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Better Kettlebell Swings & Get-ups

sandbag exercise equipment

For the past several years I have begun each one of our DVRT education programs the same way….

“My goal is not to get you good at Ultimate Sandbag Training so you are great at “sandbags”, but so you can do what you love better!” That honestly is how I feel about what we do with DVRT, but many people from the outside don’t really understand what I mean.

sandbag exercises
A great example is when someone asks me how to get good at any exercise. They expect me to give a long laundry list of technique points (which sometimes happens), but they are shocked when sometimes my answer is something they weren’t expecting. Many times I give the solution to their problem lies in doing a completely different exercise.

How could this be?

Let me give you a great example. One of the things most that I love about hardcore kettlebell users is that they take their training seriously and pay A LOT of attention to technique. However, some of the issues of performance have less to do with the right technique and more about just preparing your body better for the demands of the exercises.

In the kettlebell world that usually focuses largely around great exercises like swings and get-ups. You won’t find any shortage of technique videos on both and yes, technique IS important. However, during both of these kettlebell exercises there are other fitness qualities we can build to create better success.

kettlebell swings
For the kettlebell swing, for example, going from a kettlebell deadlift to swing (even power swing) can be really challenging. That is because the kettlebell swing requires great hip and core integrity and control. Yes, we want that plank, but when things go fast it can be hard to remind people how to keep that reactive core.

The kettlebell swing requires us to know how to create force from the feet up, something that is hard for a lot of people to understand and even more so, many people lack lower leg/foot strength. So, what can we do? As DVRT Master and kettlebell expert, Ian Vaughn, talks about, the DVRT MAX Lunge is a great solution.

Not because we are trying to replicate a kettlebell swing, but because we can teach the body the concepts of movement that carry over so well to doing kettlebell swings. We can vary the speed, load, and other variables that with practice, will make it easier to build success in the kettlebell swing. 

Don’t get me wrong, the DVRT MAX Lunge by itself is a rockstar, but I think many are often shocked at how well it translates to many other movements.

The same can be said about the kettlebell get-up. For years I have seen, heard, and talked to coaches that really struggled to build the kettlebell get-up into their clients’ programs. Understandably, there are a lot of moving parts and let’s face it, most people have some type of shoulder issue.

sandbag get-up
The answer for many for a long time has been to try to do a get-up with a shoe. Just working on technique, which is fine, but this misses building strength and mobility that will HELP you build a better get-up.
That is why I often am sad that people overlook our DVRT Leg Threading as “just” another get-up. Sure, it share some similarities, but man, there are some profound differences as well! Most obvious is that we can take the kettlebell from being overhead and load the shoulder with the Ultimate Sandbag.


This just isn’t to put weight on the body, by placing the Ultimate Sandbag on the shoulder and creating tension against it, we integrate the lat on the top side and start to build shoulder stability and control on both sides without the fear of the weight overhead. Not to mention, this lat connection is key to connecting the core and glutes into the movement.

Another subtle, but profound difference is the head movement we use in Leg Threading. The get-up is often called a “rolling pattern”, key in developing core stability, but here is the thing. Unless you have proper head movement, it isn’t a rolling pattern! That is because of the neurological impact turning the head creates.

sandbag get-up
With a kettlebell this isn’t a great idea because the body follows the head, so the risk of dropping a kettlebell on the head or getting out of position is a real thing. You see the BIG differences can come in the smallest ways!

Lastly, Leg Threading really emphasizes lateral core/hip strength. When you watch a lot of people perform a kettlebell get-up you may notice they struggle going through transitions of each movement. They are challenged to move seamlessly not because of their up and down strength, but they don’t have enough lateral strength.

Yes, side planks are great, but these are even better!

You see, it isn’t about using a kettlebell or Ultimate Sandbag, but how they can be used complimentary to create greater success in your fitness programs. Now THAT is what I think is most cool!

Check out Coach Ian’s programs HERE and more of our DVRT workout programs for 25% with coupon code “holiday” for a limited time!