How To Do Kettlebell Swings

In Kettlebell Mastery by admin5 Comments

In the age of technology, we tend to be a very sedentary population as a whole. No one can really deny that. That’s the way it is and it is how our society has developed. Some people work a nine-to-five job that requires them to be sedentary, and yet, others choose to be sedentary as they form attachments to certain technological entertainment modules. Now, I’m not going to tell you how to live your life; it is your life to live however you desire. However, I will say that not only does having a sedentary lifestyle lead to chronic health implications such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease; it can also lead to numerous muscular imbalances through bad postural habits. These imbalances can result in chronic pain, injury, and even further increase the rapidity of the inevitable—physical degeneration. This makes it even more important to take that conscious effort in making sure that we are moving through all forms of exercise with good posture. You know what they say: don’t add fuel to the fire if and when you can help it. One such common exercise is that of the kettlebell swing. The video above shows how to do kettlebell swings in the most functionally correct manner possible.

Two Important Rules:

Rule #1: Do NOT pick up kettlebell with two hands.

More times than not, this action will result in the internal rotation of the shoulders. If you start out this way, the chance of you proceeding through the rest of the exercise in the same manner is much more likely.

We do not want this to happen!

It is relatively easy for us to train our bodies to maintain bad posture.

In this case, the constant habit of rotating our shoulders forward will lead to a condition known as rounded shoulders. Rounded shoulders involves the anterior/front muscles constantly being in a contracted state and the posterior/back muscles being in a constant extended state.

A muscle in a constant extended state is a rather weak muscle (as is a constant contracted muscle) and so when you partake in an exercise such as the kettlebell swing, you will automatically compensate for that weakness by predominately using a different group of musculature.

We are searching for efficiency and the whole body working together. If one area of the body is not pulling its weight, another area of the body will have to compensate. This can very likely result in either a loss in strength, muscular imbalance, injury, or even all three of them combined.

REMEMBER: The more efficient your body is, the stronger you are, and the less chance of injury that you will have.

Rule #2: Do NOT snap your hips forward.

The snapping of the hips forward will result in the activation of the hip flexors and the cessation of the gluteal muscles.

The gluteal muscles are the strongest and most powerful group in the body. To shut them down will once again cause the body to compensate for such a weakness and prevent any kind of movement efficiency.

In this case, you will more than likely be activating the lumbar spine region as well as the hip flexors as mentioned before.

The shutting down of the gluteal muscles group and the activation of the hip flexors and lumbar spine regions will overtime result in a condition known as anterior pelvic tilt.

Anterior pelvic tilt is a chronic postural condition where the pelvic region chronically remains forward resulting in an overstretch of the lumbar spine region and is often the cause of many individual’s lower back pain.

Once again: keep the fuel out of the fire if you can help it. We want to move as efficiently as possible while incorporating the whole kinetic chain in each and every movement. This will help in preventing certain structural imbalances.


These are just two of the many tips that were introduced within the corresponding video. To learn more information on how to do kettlebell swings, check out the video displayed at the top of the article—Naudi Aguilar explains the concepts in a very sufficient manner.

Greg Pearson is an exercise science major at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania with minors in biology and coaching. He is also a lifelong athlete – involved in the sports of basketball, baseball, football, track & field and volleyball growing up. Competed at Shippensburg University in the shot put, discus, and hammer events as a Division II Track & Field athlete. You can contact Greg via e-mail: [email protected] or his  linkedin profile.


  1. Do you drop your shoulder when in bottom of swing?

    I mean do you round your shoulder when sitting back?

    I mean will you let shoulder out from the socket when swinging back?

    Should the kettlebell be in the socket all the time?
    And when keeping it in the socket should you rotate your upper body so the kettlebell does not hit your knee and is in the middle of feet.
    So the one arm swing is completely same as two arm swing except the upper body rotation.

    1. Author

      It depends on which style you’re doing it in. Hardstyle you keep the shoulder in the socket the entire time. In girevoy sport the shoulder is kept relaxed. Some slight rotation in the upper body is fine, because you definitely don’t want to hit the knee 🙂

      1. Fast answer, thank you.
        So which is the correct style?
        Do you have a source for that girevoy statement?
        I have a rounded shoulders and I exercise to get rid off it. When I keep relaxed shoulder I use my upper trapezius and cannot engage the hip power. I use my upper trapezius and thats bad because those are overdevelopped. When locked shoulder and in socket hip is really engaged. But its kind of hard like you mentioned because of tight core and rotations. What you recommend for rounded shoulders?

        1. Author

          Neither is correct. It depends on what you’re going for. No source I can point you to, just knowledge from training.

          It sounds like for what you want to achieve you want to keep the shoulder in the socket the entire time.

  2. Thank you for your advice.

    So there is no official girevoy advice or tutorial for shoulder placement.
    In terms of mechanics the kettlebell needs to be placed in the middle of trajectory between feet. It is been done by dropping your shoulder or rotating your body. Which one it is? Shouldn’t this info be somewhere? Do you know.

    I think when dropping shoulder the core is not connected because shoulder is loose. The scapular retraction muscles are in a constant extended state because you want the hips to do the work. How you corporate the whole “kinetic chain” thought with swinging with loose shoulder?

    Do you have any youtube links that you approve where you can see the shoulder when swinging or clean?

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