Sunday, January 06, 2008

Question of the day...

Swing height? How high and why?

Swings are the center of the RKC universe as Rif has so eloquently stated and as such they are essential to master. One of the recurring questions is how high to swing the Kettlebell during swings. My answer is - between waist and shoulder height with an "ideal" of chest to shoulder high.

The swing is about projection of energy not elevation of energy. So if I feel like putting a kettlebell overhead I will snatch it not swing it. Can you swing to the top? Sure - as long as you got there by projecting the kettelbell along its arc of movement and did not "lift" the kettlebell to the top. But most people will begin to lift instead of swing and miss the point of the exercise.

In the swing the movement is more important than the motion - meaning a short, crisp hip snap will provide far more benefit than an incomplete hip snap with a lift of the kettlebell with the arms. Try doing a "progressive" swing where you start with shorter hip motions (but always finish the hips) and gradually over several reps increase the amount of hip motion and kettlebell motion. See where your "best" swings are occuring. I am willing to bet it will be at chest to shoulder level.

And here are three more tips to improve your swing:
Tip #1 - Connect the arms to the body
Stand straight and tall like you have finished a swing and hold your arms out in front of you at shoulder level - now bring the arms down so they connect to your body and are tight against your ribs. Leave your arms there and push your hips back like you are at the bottom of a swing and then reverse the movement with the hips leaving the arms on the ribs until the hips bump the arms off.
Tip #2 - Hike the kettlebell
If you have connected the arms to the body as described above then hiking the kettlebell will come naturally. On the descent with the KB do not let it pull away from you toward the ground but rather connect the arms to the body and hike it back behind you high and tight in the groin.
Tip #3 - Hips lead the race
Once you have connected the arms to the body and hike passed the kettlebell you begin the swing by extending the hips. Obvious - however, you should finish the hip snap/extension long before the kettlebell reaches the top of the swing. And once th kettlebell is decending again and you have reconnected the arms to the body - it is the hips that push back first. Put the hips at the lead of the hip extension and the push back (once the arms have reconnected) and you will gain power and coordination with the swing.
Once you have mastered these tips on the swing try implementing them on your snatches and see if you don't get a great carryover.

And my upcoming workshops...

Jan 26-27 FMS workshop in Pittsburgh
Register on (go to courses and workshops and you will see the dates mentioned for an FMS workshop)
email me at with any questions.

February 1 Secrets of the Shoulder workshop at the Sporting Club in La Jolla
Email Paul David - for details and to register.

February 2 Intermediate Kettlebell workshop at Iron Core in San Diego


Mark Reifkind said...

great psot Brett! absolutely required reading, as is your article in this months hardstle on prep for the RKC. well done.!

Brett Jones said...

Thanks Rif - I appreciate you reposting on your blog - lots of exposure there.

Martin Schap said...

This is an interesting article, but there was one part I didn't really understand. Any chance you could elaborate on what you mean when you say "The swing is about projection of energy not elevation of energy"? What do you mean by elevation of energy? I know what projection is.

Brett Jones said...

You are projecting the Kettlebell out along an arc (with a fixed point of rotation - your shoulders). Snatching the kettlebell is about "taming" the arc and getting the kettlebell overhead.

Brett Jones said...

Getting the kettlebell overhead in as efficient an arc as possible.

Rannoch Donald said...

Great Stuff Brett. The simpler I keep it the better it gets. If in doubt...swing. Thanks for helping us keep our eyes on the essentials.

Oh, and A Happy New Year.



Unknown said...

And that is why you are a Master RKC Instructor....

Martin Schap said...

That helps. Thank you.

Unknown said...

Excellent info. It drives me nuts to see my dad pick up one of my bells and then proceed to "swing" them up over his head. i wish i could get him to an RKC, but he seems convinced he is doing more work that way and i dont seem to be able to convince him that it's not the party way! bad comrade. Question, how far behind you should you hike the bell?

Unknown said...


Any chance you have video showing this proper technique in action? I've seen quite a few out there that show more of a "what NOT to do" movement and a picture/video to go along with your instruction would help me out, bigtime!

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