5 Variations to Add to Your Kettlebell Swing

5 Variations to Add to Your Kettlebell Swing


The Kettlebell swing is a powerful movement that helps the strongest and most powerful athlete get even more explosive. Two hand swings are great and have their uses, but here are five swing variations you might not have tried before.

One Arm Staggered Swing 

Here you’re going to take the mechanics of the swing (strong hip drive, tense upper body, tall standing position), but instead of staying in a bilateral stance with your feet at an equal distance you’re going to stagger your feet. This allows you to focus slightly more on one side (your front leg) as you drive through to the top of the exercise. On this variation avoid rotating your torso on the downswing. Sink into your front glute on the downswing to add a greater unilateral focus to the movement. 

Alternating Staggered Rotational Swing 

This is by far one of my favorite kettlebell exercises. You get the timing of the alternating position from the hand to hand transfer as well as your foot position, the benefit of a powerful rotation through the torso and the explosiveness of the swing. For the advanced kettlebell-er this is a great variation to add power and rotation to your training. 

Triple Extension Swing

Triple extension (extending the ankle, knee and hip) is typically reserved for plyometrics or explosive barbell work. This is about creating power, timing and in the case of the kettlebell about deceleration through the downswing. After a few reps of traditional two hand swings, you’ll incorporate a mid pull (not quite a high pull) and time the top of the swing to match the full extension of your ankles, knees, and hips. This is going to help you create a lot of power, and get more lower body engagement.

Two Hand Rotational Swing 

This is another favorite for the fact you’ll be doing some explosive, rotational work which feels incredibly athletic. The combination of the pivot from the ground as it transfers up through the knees and hips will help you create speed and transfer that load to the end position across your body. Unlike slam balls where you release the weight you’ll be changing the direction and decelerating the weight back across your body and repeating. This helps create full body awareness to transfer power rotationally with far better timing to allow you to move even more weight explosively. This has great carry-over to just about any sport, particularly sports with high amounts of rotation (golf, tennis, striking sports, etc).

Outside Leg Swing

Last, but not least is the outside leg swing. This is a great core exercise (as they all are) in that your opposing side will be taxed far more to help your body maintain center. As the weight swings on the outside of your body you’ll have to root harder to maintain a stable surface to swing off of. You can intensify this by alternating sides, adding a staggered position, or even doubling up the weights.

If you’re up for a challenge give these a go. Test yourself by adding one advanced variation into your program and progress with it the same way you would with two hand or one arm swings. Remember that it’s not just about going heavier, but also about smoothing out your technique and becoming a more proficient mover with the kettlebell. 

For full kettlebell programs check out some of the four week programs available on Living.Fit!.

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