3 Keys to the Perfect Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell is a versatile piece of gym equipment that is a great tool for any strength and conditioning program. Kettlebells can be used for various squatting, hinging, carrying, pressing, and pulling exercises. Furthermore, the kettlebell can be used to perform power exercises, and in this example:  kettlebell swings. The kettlebell swing exercise incorporates the hip hinge movement pattern and is performed at a high velocity and explosive manner.

The Movement 

The kettlebell swing exercise begins with the kettlebell on the floor slightly in front of you, with your feet approximately shoulder-length apart. As you first lift the kettlebell off the ground, you pull the kettlebell between your legs as you hinge at the hips and your chest lowers to the ground. Once the kettlebell is in its lowest position, you should feel an increased muscle tension in your hamstrings. This position is commonly referred to as: “The Catch.” 

Once in this position, you will begin the hip thrust motion that is commonly referred to as: “The Drive.” As the hips drive forward, the kettlebell will naturally follow the momentum of the body and rise to the waist or chest level. During the Drive phase, it’s important to focus on squeezing your glutes and hamstrings. Once the Drive phase is completed, gravity will naturally bring the kettlebell back to the ground and you must decelerate the speed of the kettlebell as you hinge in the hips to return to The Catch position.

Three Key Components

  • Efficiency

The most efficient way to complete the Kettlebell Swing exercise is to keep the kettlebell as close to your body as possible. This is also important for maintaining the safety of your lower back during this exercise. Be sure to maintain your breathing and keep your abdominals engaged.

  • Rhythm

As stated above, the kettlebell swing is a mixture of the Catch phase and the Drive phase. However, the transition between the two should be seamless. As soon as the kettlebell reaches the Catch position, you should rapidly Drive it back forward so that it reaches waist height again.

  • Velocity

The Drive phase of the kettlebell swing should occur at a high velocity. This is what makes this exercise designed to improve power. Power exercises are important to enable muscle to reach the maximal force in the shortest amount of time.

See our video for a full explanation of kettlebell swing mechanics and tips for good technique. If you are having pain while lifting weights, please contact us at Balance Physical Therapy. We have locations throughout the Central Coast, including Salinas, Prunedale, and Monterey. We offer a wide variety of services to help decrease pain, improve strength and mobility, and optimize overall function. All of our highly trained clinicians will be able to provide you with an individualized program in order to meet your goals and improve your quality of life. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Blog Post Written by Dr. Nikky Gonzales PT, DPT, CSCS


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