If you've ever worked with kettlebells, you're probably familiar with the kettlebell swing. And if you don't know what a kettlebell is...well, just crawl back under your rock. It's nice and safe under there. (Just kidding. But seriously, starting using them).
Kettlebell swings come with tons of benefits. They teach good hip hinge mechanics, they force you to activate your glutes, and they reinforce explosiveness. They're notoriously tricky to learn, though. You have to put a lot of pieces together at the right time, and there's the awkward kettlebell-in-your-crotch aspect to get used to. But once you get the hang of them, they're gold.
That brings us to the big question and the topic of this post: what do you do after you master the basic swing?
Progressing the kettlebell swing isn't any more difficult that progressing any other exercise, but for some reason it stumps people. You'll always have the tried and true option of simply varying intensity and volume, but you can also move to more difficult versions of the swing.
We're going to go through three of them today. They're listed in an ideal order of progression, but it might not be the same for everyone. Even though the band-resisted swing comes last, it's possible that you'll have an easier time with it than the other two variations.
Single Arm Kettlebell Swing
Dropping to a single arm makes the swing harder in two ways:
- First, it adds an element of rotational instability to the swing — you'll have to work to keep your torso and the kettlebell tracking in a straight line.
- Second, with only one arm able to control the kettlebell, you lose a substantial amount of your support system.
Alternating Kettlebell Swing
The addition of alternation doesn't expand on the single arm swing by much, but it's just enough to call it a progression. You'll still have to deal with the two points we talked about for the single arm swing, but this time it won't be as easy to settle into a rhythm. Plus, there's some extra coordination involved in the hand-off, especially as you increase the weight.
Band-Resisted Kettlebell Swing
At first glance the band resistance might not seem any harder than just adding more weight, but it makes quite a difference. To rock the band-resisted swing, you need to be more powerful and more explosive, and you need to own that top position.