The Russian Kettlebell Swing

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The Russian Kettlebell Swing

  • by Matt Jennings
  • June 19, 2017

How you execute every rep of the kettlebell swing matters. This is how we teach the swing at The Lift Gym.

The Russian Kettlebell Swing should start on the floor with the kettlebell a foot in front of the athlete. Next the athlete grabs the horn with hips back, hamstrings a bit taut, spine rigid in neutral and chin tucked. With a deep belly breath in he then hikes the bell back and high just below the groin (‘attack the zipper’). The kettlebell is then hip thrust up to chest level, creating a 90-degree angle to your body.

Russian KB Swing Photo

This variation of the swing is quick and efficient. It is a hip hinge movement, often described in the kettlebell community as a ‘violent hip thrust’ with a little knee flexion  under 30 degrees. The power of the swing is generated from the hips while the spine is held perfectly stable and neutral throughout.

At the top of the swing, the kettlebell is brought to chest level, and the athlete’s glutes are contracted (dirty money), quads are engaged, the midsection is rock solid and braced for impact (gut punch ready), and lats are actively keeping the shoulders down away from the ears.

The Russian swing should be performed with proper breathing. Filling the abdomen(belly) on the bottom motion of the swing and forcefully exhaling while bracing the midsection, at the top of the swing.

The Russian Swing is a great modality to teach athletes how to break at the abs, lats and glutes while using their bodies in a more efficient manner. More lat recruitment is also required at the top (finish) of the swing in order to control the height of the swing.

The goal of the kettlebell swing is to increase hip hinge power output, and sometimes as a conditioning exercise. The weight of the bell is dictated by ability of the athlete and purpose of the movement. e.g exploiting high power output=heavier bell. Conditioning using high reps/time=a moderate to moderately heavier bell…i.e. a bell that is on your mid-scale (not too hot…not too cold…but just right)