What is proper kettlebell swing form? In this article I’ll show you. But the truth is you won’t just find one answer because there are multiple ways to do the swing, and to do it correctly. Part of this depends on your goals. So some people may say this way is right and that way is wrong, but they’re wrong, because both forms work, it’s a matter of application.
To start with we’re going to dive into the classic RKC kettlebell swing form. This is a great video from Delaine Ross who I had a chance to meet at an RKC many years ago. It very well describes the proper form for hardstyle swings.
The benefits of this swing form is that it does keep your back in a safer position. The effect of these swings is primarily in your hips, glutes and hamstrings. This is a powerful movement that allows you to generate maximum force. If you’re looking for more power this is a great way to go. Swings will generally be done with a lower number of reps per set.
Now we move to the far-end of other kettlebell swings, with the girevoy sport style. While the hardstyle form emphasizes tension and explosion, the GS style is all about relaxation.
Here you allow momentum to do as much work as possible, and using your body efficiently. This means you’re not just using your butt and hamstrings, but your whole legs and back was well for the movement. By spreading the load no one area is working that hard. The breathing is also done opposite from the hardstyle version to aid in the relaxation.
The benefits of this kettlebell swing form is that it allows you to go for much higher reps. You can go further with it as a conditioning movement, and especially spare the hands, which is important in the sport application of kettlebell lifting.
So which form should you use?
Firstly, it depends on your goals. If you want more explosiveness then the hardstyle version, or something similar to it, will suit you best. If you want to go for hundreds or thousands of reps then the GS style works. But this isn’t set in stone. My friend Bud Jeffries does more of a hardstyle swing, but in a more relaxed manner for his thousands of swings workouts.
Secondly, it is wise to be able to do both. This gives you more ability and you can then alter what you’re doing for whatever you happen to be working on. Especially if you are a kettlebell trainer, you should be intimately familiar in both styles, even if you primarily teach one. You owe it to yourself to be well-versed in all aspects of kettlebell training.