The 3 Key Positions In The Kettlebell Swing

I first started training with kettlebells in 2009

I’d read about them in an article and started doing some research.

That led me to the RKC forum where I found a group of people who were using kettlebells to “develop all-purpose strength” and “forge a fighter’s physique”.

That’s all I needed to hear.

I picked up a copy of the book everyone was talking about, Enter The Kettlebell, and started my journey.

One of the points from the book that stuck with me was the “the swing is the center of the kettlebell training universe.”

If you want to train with kettlebells, it all starts with the swing

It’s the center of the universe, the foundation that all the other kettlebell lifts are built on.

And if you want all the strength, power, conditioning and mobility improvements that come along with kettlebell training, it starts by learning the swing.

At first glance, it looks like a pretty simple exercise. But while it only takes a few minutes to learn, it takes a lifetime to master.

The first step to mastering it is to perfect the 3 positions that make up the kettlebell swing.

The Setup Position

The setup position is the position you start and finish every set of swings.

Getting it right is crucial.

If you get sloppy here, your swings are going to suck and you run the risk of getting hurt. So pay attention and get the set up position right.

Start about 18 inches behind the kettlebell with a shoulder width stance, slightly wider if you need to.

Turn your feet out a bit, but no more than about 30 degrees.

Next, hinge into your hips by keeping your chest tall and your back flat as you push your butt back.

Imagine you’re trying to touch the wall behind you with your butt.

Let your knees bend slightly as you sit back.

Keep hinging back until you can grip the kettlebell. Remember to keep your chest tall, your back flat, your chin up and your eyes on the horizon.

Finally, grip the kettlebell and angle it towards you.

Contract your lats by squeezing your armpits, like you’re trying to break the handle in half.

Make sure you still have your chest up, back flat, head up and your eyes on the horizon.

This is the setup position.

It’s where you’ll start and finish every set of swings.

The Hike Position

Every swing starts with a strong hike.

If you’re familiar with American football, you know the center hikes the football between his legs to the quarterback to start each play.

The kettlebell hike is the same idea. You’re hiking the kettlebell back between your legs on every swing.

To start a set you’ll hike the kettlebell from the ground. For the rest of your swings you’ll hike it from the top of the swing.

Either way, the hike position is the same.

Ok, so how do you get into the hike position?

Start with a sharp inhale. Just a quick sniff of air in through your nose and into your belly.

Then hike the kettlebell like you’re trying to throw it through the wall behind you.

Be strong with the hike. This loads your legs and glutes so you can get maximum power in your swing.

And make sure you keep that good hinge position as you hike the kettlebell behind you; chest tall, back flat, head up and eyes on the horizon.

You want to hike the kettlebell high in your groin. It helps to imagine a triangle that connects both of your knees and your groin/zipper area.

On every swing you want to hike the handle of the kettlebell into that triangle. You never want the kettlebell to get below your knees.

That’s the hike position. If you do it right, you’re loading your lower body up for a powerful swing.

To finish the swing, you just have to snap out of the hike position and into the standing plank position.

The Standing Plank Position

The standing plank is the position at the top of the swing.

Where you’re standing tall and the kettlebell is floating up to the top, just before you hike it back down into the triangle.

It’s called the standing plank because you’re squeezing every muscle in your body, just like you’re doing a plank exercise for your abs.

Why do you have to squeeze every muscle in your body?

Because it creates maximum power, protects your lower back and keeps the kettlebell from dragging you across the room.

So from the hike position, drive your heels through the floor and snap your hips forward.

Like you’re trying to jump as high as you can, but without actually jumping.

Stand up tall and squeeze everything. Turn into a plank.

Push your heels into the ground. Pull your kneecaps “up” to lock your legs out. Squeeze your glutes hard. Tense your abs and pull your shoulder blades back and down.

Your arms and face should be relaxed as the kettlebell floats up to the top of the swing – about shoulder height.

That’s the standing plank position.

That’s Really All There Is To The Swing

The setup, the hike, and the standing plank

Once you know those three positions, all you have to do is connect the dots and you’re swinging a kettlebell.

So a set of 3 swings would look like this…

  • Setup position
  • Hike high into the groin
  • Standing plank
  • Hike high into the groin
  • Standing plank
  • Hike high into the groin
  • Standing plank
  • Hike high into the groin
  • Setup position

Now you’re swinging a kettlebell!

The swing takes minutes to learn and a lifetime to master

But it’s worth it.

When done properly, the kettlebell swing gives you unbelievable improvements in strength, power and conditioning.

The key to doing it properly is the master 3 important positions.

  • The Setup Position
  • The Hike Position
  • The Standing Plank Position

Keep practicing and your swings will improve dramatically.