Fix Your Kettlebell Single Arm Swing

I just got back from the San Jose Level One RKC where I was an assistant instructor for the first time. My team performed well and we all learned a ton about Hardstyle kettlebell lifting.

Having observed numerous candidates perform kettlebell movements not only this past weekend but in my own gym, I realized that I should add to my Fix your Kettlelbell…series. In this installment I focus specifically on the single arm swing and how to make it strong and smooth.
Dragondoor San Jose RKC Group 2-2013

First Thing’s First

If you are just beginning to start kettlebell swings I would suggest learning how to perform 2-arm swings safely and effectively before attempting too many 1-arm swings. This progression will make kettlebell swing advancement much easier and seamless. Check out my Fix you Kettlebell Swing video to learn more about proper swing technique.

After you have become comfortable with the 2-arm swing, which involves demonstrating proper technique with consistent repetitions, it is time to start incorporating more 1-arm swings.

Main Principle to Keep in Mind

When starting out with the incorporation of 1-Arm swings the most important principle to keep in mind is that your 1-arm swings should look, feel and be performed just like your 2-arm swings. Too many times I have seen people transition from 2-arm swings with great technique to single-arm swings where they look like they are contorting their bodies in ways I didn’t think were possible.

Retracted shoulders, even hips, strong glute snap and breathing are all the key swing principles that should be utilized in the all the swings you perform. I assume in this article that you have a technically sound 2-arm swing and just need to add a few tips to make your 1-arm swing just as good.

Also it is OK to go with a lighter kettlebell when transitioning from 2-arm swings to 1-arm swings. This will help solve several technical problems you might encounter in the beginning. I know brilliant concept right?

Get Both Sides Involved

One of the most common problems when transiting to 1-arm swings is body position. With proper technique you see nice square and packed shoulders when the two hands are on the kettlebell. However, when first transitioning to 1-arm swings, it’s common to see a more T-ed-off position where the kettlebell side is much more forward.

Typically people are so focused on the kettlebell side they lock down their opposite side and it does not move freely like the swinging side and you get one shoulder more forward than the other. In order to fix this incorrect body position, you have to involve your non-weighted side.

To involve the other side, pretend you have a kettlebell in your free hand. Have a good backswing with the free arm and involve it with the hip snap on the upswing as well.

Single Arm Kettlebell Swing

Don’t Slow the Kettlebell Down

What happens when we grab a heavy weight in one hand and it begins to fall? Our brain tends to tell us to tighten up our body and slow the object down to give us enough time to get out of the way to avoid getting pegged by the falling object.

When learning the 1-arm swing you have to initially override this message from the brain. As mentioned earlier, use a lighter weight to make this process easier. If you do too many reps slowing the kettlebell down not only will you not be able to perform the swings properly you will take much of the load with your lower back and we all know what can happen then.

Use a lighter kettlebell and learn to let it free-fall into the backswing under control and guide it into the back swing. You want to have a big backswing to stretch the posterior chain muscles to get a better elastic effect to make you next swing powerful.

Incorporation of the 1-Arm Swing

One of the most effective ways I have found to transition to a successful 1-Arm swing is performing the 2:1:1 swing. For this swing you want to start by performing 2-Arm swings and then transition to the 1-arm swing with the intention of making the 1-arm swing technically similar to the 2-arm swing.

The 2:1:1 swing also allows you to transition to that heavier kettlebell without the need to perform several 1-arm reps in a row where the technique can be compromised.

I have made a video below highlighting what I have talked about in the article above. Check it out and make those 1-arm swings strong.

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Aj’s Deep Six Kettlebell Complex

Aj shares his “Deep Six” kettlebell complex circuit. This includes five repetitions of the following five exercises on one side: swings, snatch, clean, press and front squat. This is followed by one Turkish get up. After one side is complete go to the other. Repeat for five rounds.

Check out his video and see if you are up for the challenge.

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Monday, August 27th, 2012 Kettlebell Training, Videos No Comments

25 Kettlebell Quick Tips

Recently I have taught a few workshops on how to perform basic kettlebell movements. After the numerous hours of teaching these workshops, I have noticed that there are many common hurdles that people run across when working with kettlebells. In this article I am going to present a quick list of the 25 tips you can implement right now to fix some of the most common kettlebell technical mistakes I have come across.


1) Make sure that the shoulder blades are retracted by pulling them down and back. An easy way to do this is to rotate your elbows towards each other.
2) To use the hips more to extend the body (and alleviate pressure off the knees) keep the shins straight and push the floor away with your mid-foot; don’t think about the knees at all.
Goblet Squat:
3) Remember to force the knees out when performing a squat. This will open up the hips and activate the glutes to assist with the concentric portion of the lift.


4) Make sure the hips always finish (get the hips fully underneath your body); this not only ensures proper technique but you are also going to save your low back.
5) You want to properly propel the kettlebell upward (not forward) using your hips.
6) No leaning back, you want a “tall body” posture at the top of the movement.
7) When performing the backswing wait for the kettlebell to almost hit you before you hinge. The kettlebell should be above the knees in the backswing. Hinging too early can cause a sore lower back or even worse problems.
8 ) During the 1-Arm Swing it is important to swing the empty arm as well during the movement. This will keep your shoulders square (proper posture), add some momentum to the swing and also make hand switching much easier.
Check out my Fix Your Kettlebell Swings video below to see more tips.


9) First thing is first; get a solid rack position
10) Before you press, imagine there is a sponge full of water in your armpit; squeeze this virtual sponge to activate the Lats to help you press.
11) Make sure you are pressing against the contact point between your forearm and the kettlebell. If you rotate your forearm too much, you will lose this contact point and your pressing strength will decrease
12) Crush the handle when pressing a heavy kettlebell
13) When pressing, do your best to keep the weight directly over the hips so the structure of your body supports the weight.
Check out my Kettlebell Press video below to see more tips.


14) Keep the upper arm close to the body; don’t let it get away like in a traditional 1-Arm Swing.
15) Clean the kettlebell towards the middle of your body with your elbow near your beltline. Do not clean it up high towards your shoulder.
16) Don’t grip too much; let your hand slide through the handle.
17) On the backswing do not cast the kettlebell forward; simply let it fall and then push it through your legs to create a backswing sufficient enough for the next rep.
Check out my Fix Your Kettlebell Cleans video below to see more tips.


18) Always build off of a good swing.
19) Practice high pulls to train the shoulder retraction.
20) Do not keep a tight grip on the handle at the top. Spear your hand through the handle and upward towards the ceiling to have the kettlebell rest without pummeling your forearm.
21) Keep the kettlebell close to your body on the backswing. Casting the kettlebell too far will pull your body forward and wrench your lower back.
Check out my Fix Your Kettlebell Snatch video below to see more tips.


Get Ups:

22) Don’t move too fast; stabilize each position before transitioning to the next.
23) Make the small adjustments with your base to keep you in the most strong and stable position.
24) Practice the high bridge position not only to strengthen your hips but to make as much room as possible for the leg to sweep through.
25) When returning back to the supine position from the top; from the lunge position find the floor by pushing your hip out and reaching out to the side with your hand. Do not sit your hips back.
Check out my Fix Your Kettlebell Get Up video below to see more tips.

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Monday, May 28th, 2012 Kettlebell Training, Videos No Comments


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