Master the kettlebell swing

Kettlebell swing

The swing is a dynamic kettlebell exercise which focuses on the posterior chain muscular. This exercise is a fundamental exercise and should be one of the first exercises to learn when starting to use kettlebells.

It's a great exercise to master which will aid in the development of other exercise techniques, positions and postures.  The swing has a strong  carry over to the general activities of daily living and sports due to the powerful snapping hip extension involved.

Once the swing has been mastered then individuals can progress to more challenging exercises, such as kettlebell cleans, high pulls and the snatch.

Muscles used during the swing

With all dynamic kettlebell exercises there is a demand for large muscle recruitment.

Below are the specific lower body muscles used during the kettlebell swing.

Muscles used in kettlebell swing

Coaching points for the swing

Grasp the handles of the kettlebell with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. In a standing tall position switch on the glutes, but keep the spine neutral. While keeping the arms long and the shoulders relaxed, look forwards with the chest open.

Start the swing by lowering the kettlebell between the legs. Push the hips back, while also flexing the knees. Continue to flex at the hip - ultimately hiking the kettlebell towards the buttocks.

Drive through the heels while moving the hips forwards dynamically. As a result of the powerful dynamic hip thrust the kettlebell will arc upwards. Keep the arms relaxed as the kettlebell arc height is a consequence of the hip thrust - at the top of the arc there will be some 'hang time' Make sure the glutes are squeezed and the core braced.

Begin the downward phase by letting the kettlebell naturally drop between the legs. Push the hips back letting the kettlebell swing between the legs and keep the chest open.

How it should be executed

To be able to execute the swing correctly, it needs to be broken down into the ascending (acceleration) and descending (deceleration) phases. 

See how its should be performed in this demonstration video which we have broken down into the two phases.

Common mistakes

The swing is a dynamic exercise which has many benefits once executed correctly, however with lack of practice or poor execution then injury can occur.

When performing the swing make sure that you avoid:

Excessive knee and hip flexion (Squatting).

Excessive shoulder activation.

Excessive spinal flexion.

Spinal hyper-extension.

Alternative exercises

Once you are comfortable with the double handed swing you may wish to progress and try the following alternative exercises which are slightly more challenging;

Single hand swing.

Single alternating swing.

Overhead swing.

Travelling swing.


Download our free kettlebell exercise guide.

Download our free booklet here, explaining exactly how to complete the 7 different fundamental kettlebell exercises which will be a great addition to your or your clients workouts.



Would you like to become a kettlebell instructor? We deliver online and face to face courses, to become level 2 qualified through our Active IQ qualifications.

If you would like to enrol onto our next course or find out more information about our course click here