The Kettlebell Swing

by James Kerrison on January 13, 2011

Hey guys, today I have a guest post from New Jersey Kettlebell Training guru, Eric Moss, showing us the ins and outs of one of my favorite exerises!

Take it away Eric….

The kettlebell swing is a simple exercise that somehow gets demonstrated incorrectly by well meaning but misinformed personal trainers. A quick google search can come up with anything from a squatting front raise to an explosive good morning to some overhead thing that puts your back in a position that I shudder to look at and just about everybody misses the boat on how to perform this correctly. Practicing the correct and safe way to swing can make the difference between a back that is lean and durable and one that makes your chiropractor upgrade to the “L class”.

One famous kettlebell instructor once implied that the swing alone was better then 99% of the strength and conditioning programs out there. It cements the foundation for the ballistic kettlebell movements that make kettlebell training famous for being effective and it is an awesome exercise by itself. Once you are proficient with the swing you can quite easily plug it in to any fat loss program you may already be doing even though it in itself can stand on it’s own.

Part of the magic of the kettlebell swing is that it brings all of your muscles into play (particularly in the posterior chain). The execution of it spreads the load so evenly across your body that you won’t feel it in any one area of your body unless you are performing it wrong or have a weak link that is suddenly exposed. Often times what gives out first is your will to keep going because your lungs get a heck of a workout as well. The movement resembles a deadlift but without loading on your spine at the top since your arms should be relaxed. Many backs owe their rehab to the swing and many lean midsections do as well…including mine.

A correctly performed swing begins in your hips and ends with your glutes locking out so that you are standing up straight. To set yourself up to do this correctly position yourself much like a football player would just before the hike pass. Literally hike pass it back behind you while looking forward and quickly snap the hips forward. Once the hips are snapped the forward momentum from the kettlebell will force it to float up on it’s own accord. Your arms are merely supposed to act like ropes that attach your upper body to the kettlebell. Picture like a pendulum on a clock or like a wrecking ball.

Here watch this quick demonstration.

Notice that it is a quick movement and that once my hips have snapped and locked out that the kettlebell keeps moving. It is very important that this does it on it’s own rather then being lifted with the shoulders. The back of the swing can’t have any lag time, picture one of those net things that you throw a baseball and it reacts and throws it back. Your hips have to be much the same way. At the top your glutes have to be squeezed and locked out straight while doing a forceful exhalation. As a demonstration I want you to put your hands on your abs right now and make the sound tssst tssst tssst. You notice that ab contraction? That keeps your back safe.

Alright so you have the top of the swing which is locked out, tense and tight at the bottom but loose during the movement portion of it. Tense, loose, tense, loose in a rhymic fashion like that. Learn the kettlebell swing. Insert it into your program and enjoy how fast your body fat says goodbye. Come check out my blog at and let me know how it works out for ya.

I want to thank James Kerrisson for the opportunity to let you try my brand of tea :)

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