When I got into kettlebells back in 2002, THE exercise that was most intriguing to me was the kettlebell swing. It might have been that it was so incredibly unusual of a movement at the time, or could have been that it was being sold as a much more enjoyable way of doing cardio (which I hated going on treadmills and ellipticals for 30 minutes at a time), it could have also even been the fact it was being promoted as a way to help low back issues (which even back then were a struggle for me).
The kettlebell swing is now so common it is hard to see a workout program that doesn’t use them in one form or another. However, just because the kettlebell swing is popular, it doesn’t mean that it is often done well. I was reminded of how many people are still learning the kettlebell swing when a couple of weeks ago I was teaching our first live Progressive Kettlebell Movement certification in Japan.
While most people really need to focus on the foundations for quite some time, the other side is many have been performing the kettlebell swing for awhile and looking for smart ways to progress.
Once we have the right foundations of the kettlebell swing, where do we go in our training? Thanks to the internet, everyone has an idea of where the kettlebell swing should go in exercise progression. Some ideas are much better than others, but we do want to avoid some common mistakes…
-Building more unilateral strength: The kettlebell swing can easily be progressed from two to one handed swings, but we can also build to more single leg types of kettlebell swing movements. However, this has caused some odd variations like holding onto a rack, wall, etc, while trying to do a kettlebell swing single leg. This artificial stability takes away from the benefits of doing a single leg movement. Which begs the question is doing more single leg kettlebell swing progressions possible? As you can see below, the answer is YES if we look for more incremental progressions.
-Random kettlebell swing movements: Just like in our DVRT program, in our Progressive Kettlebell Movement system, every progression is done with great meaning and intent. We avoid the “oh, you can do this or you can do that” type of mentality. Instead, we look at how we change load, body positions, and planes of motion like you can see in the progressions below.
A good kettlebell swing progression is based upon incremental changes like we would do with the weight or repetitions we perform. Changing from two to one hands can be quite significant, going from a stable bilateral base to a sprinter stance can be a big change, and so on. The point is learning how to apply these concepts in thoughtful ways so that we can keep building upon the great benefits the kettlebell swing can offer.
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