Tag Archives: kettlebell

The 1-Arm Kettlebell Swing

In the world of Kettlebell sport the 1-arm swing is the foundational movement. The contested movements are the kettlebell snatch and the kettlebell clean & jerk. Success is predicated upon a firm grasp of the 1-arm swing which underlies both the clean and the snatch. Nonetheless, the 1-arm swing is a great exercise on its own which has tremendous carryover to other athletic endeavors.

Unfortunately, the kettlebell is underutilized and misunderstood amongst the crossfit community. The 2-arm American swing, the go-to-exercise in CrossFit) is a great exercise in regard to its ability to deliver a potent training stimulus. The 1-arm swing, however, might be a better tool in the development of athletic movement. Specifically, the development of rotational power.

All unilateral movements (1-arm or 1-legged movements) demand an athlete either generate rotational forces or resist rotational forces. Running, punching, kicking, throwing, swinging are all powerful unilateral movements where rotational forces must be managed. It is in the teaching and developing rotational movement that many CrossFit coaches and athletes have a blindspot. As CrossFit has developed into its own sport that ultimately tests for power output, we have cornered ourselves into a relying on a body of movements that only operate in the sagital plane. As most of our daily battles in the gym are against gravity we have become extremely adept at moving up and down. However, in nearly all other sports we need lateral and rotational movements on the field of play. And coaches and gyms that have a bigger picture of fitness beyond purely CrossFit style competitions recognize this and program and teach accordingly.

Let’s get back to the point, the 1-arm swing. The basic understanding of how to perform this movement is flawed in the general public. The bottom and top positions are both done incorrectly for purposes of power, alignment and transferability. I have detailed here what the important aspects of the top of the swing are.
1) Square the hips and shoulders at the top
2) Keep your shoulders down and back
3) Relax your elbow down and squeeze your armpit closed
4) Turn your thumb to about 45 degrees above horizontal
5) Stop at about shoulder height with the bell in front of your nose.

1-arm kettlebell swing top position analysis from Force Distance Time on Vimeo.

I have detailed here what the important points are for the bottom of the swing.
1) Have the bell completely back through your legs
2) Have your arm glued to your body
3) Have your shoulders rotated
4) Keep your legs relatively straight and work on hinging forward rather than squatting down
5) Make sure the non-swinging arm is swinging as well to assist in proper rotation

1-arm kettlebell swing bottom position from Force Distance Time on Vimeo.

Finally let’s look at a few swings in their totality to get a sense of how they should be performed.

1-arm kettlebell swing analysis from Force Distance Time on Vimeo.

I encourage you to go and pick up a kettlebell and start swinging and record yourself and see if you can dial in the 1-arm swing. Once you do, then we can move towards the snatch and the clean. Have fun and train hard.

“Stick to the basics and when you feel you’ve mastered them it’s time to start all over again, begin anew – again with the basics – this time paying closer attention.” – Coach Greg Glassman

Day 8 – KB Armbar Stretch

The Kettlebell Armbar Stretch is a unique move. It doesn’t feel like a stretch; it’s awkward; but it leaves your shoulders feeling great. What it does is set your arm deeper in the shoulder socket essentially putting the golf ball on the tee (the humerus on the glenoid fossa). You are doing an isometric hold of the scapula in retraction and depression and letting gravity set your shoulder. Trust me, it’s worth the price of admission. You can do this with a kettlebell, dumbbell or even a band but you’re going to need some resistance to make it work. Start light until you feel comfortable and secure holding the weight, then load it up.

Use two hands to pick up the kettlebell while laying on your back. Press it up over your shoulder. Keep your core tight as you roll over onto your side. Turn your hips over and point them toward the floor. Rest your head on your arm and keep your eye on the bell. Press your shoelaces into the floor, squeeze your butt and retract and depress your scapula. Stay there for up to two minutes. Initially, you may not be able to hold the weight for that long. That’s okay. Perform the armbar stretch two or three times on each arm for as long as you feel safe holding the weight. Use both hands to lower the weight slowly and place it on the ground.

Kettlebell Armbar Stretch from Force Distance Time on Vimeo.

Here are the rules for the 30-Day Stretch Fucking Harder Challenge. Each day do the deep stretch, post it on Instagram and tag some friends to do it with you. Post your stretch with the tags: #stretchfuckingharder #supplepandas #30daypandachallenge Tag me @coachpanda. Come back here to my website or vimeo channel to see more details on each stretch and modifications and scaling options. Try to stay in each stretch for at least 2 minutes per stretch per side. Remember to breathe slowly and deeply and start gradually and move deeper over time. Back off if it hurts.