33 Kettlebell Swing Variations: From Basic to Advanced Techniques

When becoming familiar with kettlebells, beginning with the three primary movement patterns will help you get your start. You have to be able to press, row, hinge at the hips, squat, and rotate your body. When starting out, you will need to resist unwanted rotation. Take your time mastering the basics and move into the later, more advanced techniques once you have gotten familiar with the basics. Keep your body aligned to make your movements efficient, effective, and safe.

Key Takeaways 

  1. Start with the basics
  2. Start with a lighter weight
  3. Use proper form to avoid injury

Introduction to Kettlebell Swings

Overview of Kettlebell Swing Benefits

Kettlebells are a great alternative to dumbbells for gaining muscle and improving balance, flexibility, and endurance. There are a few reasons why kettlebells are great for improving core strength and stability. First, many kettlebell exercises are a form of ballistic training. Ballistic training works on explosive power by maximizing acceleration and minimizing deceleration. These movements stimulate the abdominal muscles and work your core. Kettlebells significantly improve core strength, even when not necessarily targeting your core like you would with crunches or sit-ups.

Importance of Technique and Form

Focusing on proper form throughout your kettlebell workout is essential to avoid back injuries. Most of the force should come from your legs and glutes, not your shoulders and arms. Focusing on the hip-hinge movement during the lowering phase will allow you to build power and momentum safely. You can’t just stop the exercise, or it may lead to injury.

Basic Kettlebell Swing Variations

Standard Two-Handed Kettlebell Swing

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart while holding a kettlebell with both hands (palms facing toward you) and arms straight down.
  2. Push your hips back (hinge your hips) and slightly bend your knees to bring the kettlebell between your legs.
  3. Contract your glutes, and push your hips forward to lift your body into a standing position. Allow your arms to swing the kettlebell as far as it will go. You want to use something other than arm strength to raise the kettlebell.
  4. Inhale and lower the kettlebell between your legs by pushing your hips back and slightly bending your knees.

Single-Arm Kettlebell Swing

The fundamentals of swinging a kettlebell with one hand are exactly the same as the two-armed swing. Some find that a single-arm swing can be easier because there is more room to swing the bell between the legs.

  1. Practice until you can perform the two-handed swing for 60 seconds
  2. Start with 10 repetitions (or 20 seconds) on each arm. Repeat for 3 rounds
  3. Practice until you can complete 60 seconds on each arm

Alternating Hand Kettlebell Swing

Alternating one-arm kettlebell swing is a free-weight exercise that primarily targets the shoulders. It is more advanced and a powerful workout.

  1. Take a kettlebell in your right hand and stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend at the waist and knees, and bring the kettlebell down between your legs.
  3. Stand back up and swing the kettlebell up to shoulder height.
  4. Take your hand off the kettlebell and catch it with your other hand.
  5. Immediately go into the next repetition.

Advanced Kettlebell Swing Techniques

High Tension Kettlebell Swing (Hard Style)

High-tension swings are dependent on the ballistic action of the legs and back, holding a rigid posterior chain; high-volume swings are much more dependent on counterbalance and a relaxed swing path.

Dead Stop Kettlebell Swing

  1. Place the kettlebell on the floor, then take two steps back, setting your feet just about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Push your butt back towards the wall while reaching forward with your hands to grab the handles.
  3. Make sure to hinge at your hips and allow a soft bend in the knees. It’s critical that you maintain a neutral spine and avoid flexing your lower back to prevent injury.
  4. “Hike” the weight through your legs.
  5. Stand up, driving your hips forward and squeezing your glutes. 
  6. On the descent, you’ll “hike” the kettlebell through your legs.

One Arm Kettlebell Swing with Rotation

This is a complex exercise for a more experienced kettlebell user! Use ONE arm and add the rotation that beginners should always avoid.

  1. Deadstart Rotational Clean to Rotational Press 30 seconds per side
  2. Half Rotational Snatch 30 seconds per side
  3. Pendulum Swing 20 seconds
  4. Rotational Halo 30 seconds. Rest as needed. Perform 2-4x

Alternating One Arm Kettlebell Swing With Rotation

The alternating swing will require some timing, which gets us into one of my favorite benefits of ballistic kettlebell work: coordination and awareness. As the bell approaches the movement’s peak, you’ll release the bell, catch it with your other hand, and perform the downswing.

  1. Deadstart Rotational Clean to Rotational Press 30 seconds per side
  2. Half Rotational Snatch 30 seconds per side
  3. Pendulum Swing 20 seconds
  4. Rotational Halo 30 seconds. Rest as needed. Perform 2-4x

Specialty Kettlebell Swings

Chest-Supported Kettlebell Swing

  1. Stand with feet between hip and shoulder-width apart and hold the kettlebell by its horns, pulling the bottom of the bell into your lower sternum.
  2. Draw your shoulder blades together and down. Take a deep breath and root your feet. Then bend your hips back. Keep a long spine with your tailbone tilted slightly up.
  3. When you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, extend your hips and squeeze your glutes, tucking your tailbone under as you lock out.

Double Kettlebell Swing

The double kettlebell swing is a swing with two kettlebells, similar to the regular kettlebell but with minor changes. First, your stance is wider to swing kettlebells between your legs. Toes pointed forward. Second, to swing the two kettlebells between your legs without taking anything out, you grip them with a neutral grip.

Double Kettlebell Swing Outside

The Double Kettlebell Outside the Body Swing is a ballistic swing that focuses on loading the lower body in the front-to-back direction and mainly incorporates the muscles concentrated on the backside – lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. Again, this is an advanced move, so ensure you are ready for it!!!

One Arm Half Kneeling Wide Kettlebell Swing

With this variation, you will change the level while building strength. Use a soft pad to keep your knee planted on. Plant the knee of the opposite hand holding the kettlebell. This is another excellent variation for those who need help reinforcing the hinge since you reduce the distance the bell travels. 

Two Hand Lateral Pendulum Kettlebell Swing

This will be the first variation that you take the kettlebell out laterally from the body. To be as safe as possible, you will keep two hands on the kettlebell to maintain as much control of the bell while reinforcing trunk stability and tension. You’ll feel this movement throughout your entire core. You’ll quickly pull and change the movement’s direction with a narrow stance while maintaining a solid hinge position.

Rotational Kettlebell Swing

This variation will further what was started with the two-hand pendulum. You’ll finish the movement with only one hand in full hip extension, bringing the kettlebell laterally. As the bell returns to the start position, you’ll quickly hinge and receive the bell laterally to the other side and repeat. This will require timing and coordination and will build strength through the shoulder complex. 

Squat Kettlebell Swing

This is a great squat training movement. It places the workload on the quads, glutes, and core.

  1.  Instead of the Hip Hinge movement in a traditional Kettlebell Swing, you sit back into the movement as the bell drops back behind you.
  2. You need to drop into as low of a squat as possible in the movement.
  3.  The height of the Kettlebell squat swing will be low, a little out in front of you. You will be standing up straight.
  4. In finishing the swing, your head will look down at the floor in front of you.

Bullfighter Kettlebell Swing

With this variation, you’ll move, rotate, and change foot positions with each rep. You’ll alternate from a bilateral stance, pivoting into a rotation and hinging. The goal of this movement isn’t to go extremely heavy but to be incredibly mindful of each step and movement. This is more of a swing and shuffle movement, and I suggest asking a trainer for help when beginning this movement to avoid injury.

Alternating Bullfighter Kettlebell Swing

Like the bullfighter, this will require constant movement as you alternate back and forth. This will take you through multiple planes and positions, forcing you to create output and maintain tension in somewhat compromised positions (pivoted and hinged). This variation will help build an incredible amount of awareness.

Double Kettlebell Swing Staggered

This will double the load of the staggered swing and challenge your structure even more. One bell will go between your legs and one on the outside, with the front planted leg getting the brunt of the work while challenging your back, grip, and shoulders.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart but with one foot slightly in front of the other and your knees slightly bent.
  2. Using an overhand grip, hold each kettlebell between your legs
  3. Staring straight ahead, arch your lower back. Bend at your hips until the kettlebell is behind your legs.
  4. Squeeze your glutes, push your hips forward, and swing the kettlebell upward.
  5. Bend your hips and knees slightly as the weight swings back between your legs.

Double Kettlebell Swing Alternating Staggered

This will create strength and power on each leg while adding a coordination benefit as you alternate foot positions. This dynamic and challenging variation is great to add in double work to challenge one side at a time without getting completely off balance. This is a great movement to build starting strength from each leg.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart but with your right foot slightly in front of the left foot and your knees slightly bent. One leg is working harder than the other.
  2. Using an overhand grip, hold the kettlebell between your legs using your left hand.
  3. Staring straight ahead, arch your lower back. Bend at your hips until the kettlebell is behind your legs.  
  4. Squeeze your glutes, push your hips forward, and swing the kettlebell upward. Swing your other arm to help drive momentum.
  5. As the kettlebell approaches the peak, release the kettlebell.
  6. Catch the kettlebell with your other hand and perform the downswing.
  7. Bend your hips and knees slightly as the weight swings back between your legs.
  8. Alternate your hands when the kettlebell is behind your legs.

Unique Kettlebell Swing Variations

Russian Kettlebell Swing

  1. Stand with feet between hip and shoulder width. You can place the kettlebell on the floor in front of you if you have experience hiking the weight back into position.
  2. Soften your knees, bend your hips, and allow the kettlebell to swing back in the triangular space between your knees and groin. It would help if you began each rep with the kettlebell in this triangle.
  3. Keep a long spine from the top of your head to your tailbone as you bend at the hips, and keep your head neutral.
  4. Drive your feet onto the floor and extend your hips, tucking your pelvis under as you lock your hips and knees out and stand tall.

American Kettlebell Swing

  1. Set up exactly as you did for the Russian swing, and begin the exercise by swinging the weight back between your legs and then extending your hips.
  2. Instead of keeping your arms tight to your sides and bending the elbows, allow the power generated by your hips to let you drive the kettlebell overhead, extending your arms instead of holding the weight back. Let the kettlebell travel overhead—it should feel weightless as it goes vertical—and then control its descent back down.

Kettlebell Side Swing / Rotational Kettlebell Swing

  1. Leaving space between the feet, start with a double arm swing and then adjust
  2. Guide the bell to the side and back from the top phase of the swing
  3. Pivot and step out with one foot to prevent pressure on the knee
  4. Brace the core
  5. Engage the obliques to swing the bell back up
  6. Make a V pattern with the kettlebell

Staggered Stance Kettlebell Swing

Staggering your feet activates more stabilizing muscles, which increases the intensity of the exercise and increases the challenge to your core. So start by staggering your feet and doing your kettlebell swings to up your challenge and WORK your core!

Half Kneeling Kettlebell Swing

Whenever you use a half-kneeling position, your core is required to stabilize more. You also resist the rotational effect of swinging the kettlebell from a half-kneeling position, creating a stronger core.

  1. Start with your right knee on the floor and your left leg bent at 90 degrees.
  2. Grip the kettlebell with your right hand.
  3. Perform a hip hinge movement and drive the kettlebell up like for a single-arm kettlebell swing.

Walking Kettlebell Swing

Doing a kettlebell swing and shuffling forward gives the legs an additional workout, but your core must work hard to maintain balance.

  1. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Drive the kettlebell forward.
  3. As the weight reaches its peak, take two small steps forward before performing the hip hinge on the return path of the kettlebell.

Side Stepping Kettlebell Swing

Get the muscles of the legs firing by including a side lunge within the kettlebell swing.

  1. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and perform a standard kettlebell swing from this position.
  2. As the kettlebell reaches the top of its swing, step sideways with your right foot and lean forward as you would for your standard swing.
  3. Drive the kettlebell back forward and drive off your right foot simultaneously to bring your feet together.
  4. When the kettlebell reaches the top of the swing for the second time, step with your left foot to the side and lean forward again as the kettlebell swings downward.
  5. Once again, drive the kettlebell back up. Keep alternating this sideways step with the left and right foot.

Kettlebell Squat Swing

You could think of this version as the incorrect movement pattern for kettlebell swings. Many people perform a squat movement rather than a hip hinge movement. This is considered the wrong form, but it is a movement you could add to your program if you do it intentionally. The squat swing will target the quads!

  1. Start with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Instead of leaning forward from the hips to grip the kettlebell, sink down into a squat position.
  3. Explosively stand up and swing the kettlebell in front of you before sinking back into the squat position during the return swing.

Kettlebell Low Pull

This single-arm exercise combines a single-arm swing with a rowing motion that targets the latissimus dorsi and the posterior. If you’re looking for a callous move, you have found it!

  1. Perform a single-arm kettlebell swing.
  2. As the kettlebell reaches weight height, when it pauses before it returns to its downswing, pull the weight into your hips with your palms facing your midline.
  3. Immediately push the kettlebell forward again and allow it to return on its downward arc.

Kettlebell High Pull

Another single arm swing with a pull. This time, the high pull requires the upper traps and deltoids to be active.

  1. Start by performing a single arm swing, but as the weight starts its forward arc, pull the weight up to shoulder height with your elbows out to the side.
  2. Let the weight drop and swing back between your legs to start the next rep.

Banded Kettlebell Swing

The banded swing is performed by attaching a resistance band to the kettlebell. The resistance of the swing is increased, mainly where momentum often takes over. This increases the required muscle activation and greater strength and power gains.

  1. Loop a resistance band through the handle of a kettlebell.
  2. Get into your starting position and loop the opposite side of the band under both feet to anchor the kettlebell and perform the kettlebell swing.

Kettlebell Skier Swing

Like the double kettlebell swing, you will have a kettlebell in each hand. The difference is that the kettlebells start and finish on the outside of your body. This difference causes you to have a narrower stance, making it more challenging for the body to remain stable.

  1. Start with your feet under your hips. Grip a kettlebell in each hand and let your arms hang to the side of your body.
  2. Lean forward and then drive up to swing the kettlebells from this position.

Kettlebell Reverse Lunge Swing

This exercise has it all. The reverse lunge will get the glutes and quads burning. Core strength and stability are developed by having an offset weight and balancing on one leg.

  1. Start with a kettlebell in your right hand.
  2. Step back with your left foot.
  3. Instead of just stepping back up to the starting position to complete your lunge, do the movement explosively and drive the hips forward to get the kettlebell to swing.
  4. The left leg should drive up so the thigh is parallel to the floor.
  5. As the kettlebell starts its downward arc, step back into a reverse lunge again.

Kettlebell Swing Clean

The kettle swing clean combines swing movement and clean movement. Both movements rely on a hip hinge motion.

  1. Start with the kettlebell on the floor about a foot in front of you and your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hinge from your hip and grip the kettlebell with a single hand.
  3. Pull the kettlebell backward between your legs before driving the hips forward.
  4. Keep your elbow tucked into your body, and as the kettlebell reaches hip height, pull it into the rack position by moving your arm around the kettlebell.

Kettlebell Release Swing

This two-hand swing version involves you releasing the kettlebell at the top of the swing for a moment before catching it and starting the downward swing. This version of swing ensures that you are generating enough power from the hips to create the pendulum movement of the kettlebell.

  1. Perform a kettlebell swing as usual.
  2. When the kettlebell is at the top of its movement, around chest height, release it so that it appears motionless in the air before catching it again and performing the downward section of the swing.

Kettlebell Swing to Push Press

By performing a double kettle swing clean, you are in an excellent position to perform a squat to press.

  1. Place two kettlebells on the floor in front of you. Lean forward, keeping a neutral spine, and grip the kettlebells so your palms face each other.
  2. Pull the kettlebells back between the legs and swing them forward.
  3. Keep both elbows tucked in, and when the kettlebells are hip height, pull them up to the rack position.
  4. Perform a quarter squat and drive up, and at the same time, push the kettlebells up above your head
  5. Return the kettlebells to the rack position before starting the downward swing.

Kettlebell Single Arm Side Swing

This second version of the side swing involves only a single hand, which emphasizes the upper back and shoulders muscles.

  1. Place the kettlebell on the floor to the outside of your right leg and keep your feet under your hips
  2. Hinge forward and rotate slightly to grip the kettlebell with your left hand.
  3. Drive your hip forward and rotate to lift the kettlebell to the side.
  4. Allow the kettlebell to swing back past the front of your hips before performing the next swing.

The kettlebell swing is a potent exercise that is great to master if you want to work your entire body. There are many ways to use kettlebells and mix up your mundane workout by getting creative and putting your whole body to work!


As with any workout, you will eventually burn out if you do the same thing repeatedly. But looking over all the kettlebell options, you have at least 33 days’ worth of exercises to work with to break up your routine. Just make sure you play it safe and know your body’s limits. Get help from a trainer if you need more clarification about completing an exercise!

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