Kettlebell Training – Perfecting the American Kettlebell Swing

We previously ran an informative piece on tips to becoming a better Olympic weightlifter, and now we cover how you can get rid of any chinks you might have with your American kettlebell swing technique.

Kettlebell Training - Perfecting Your American Kettlebell Swing-edit (1)

The American kettlebell swing is a common CrossFit movement where the range of motion in the kettlebell swing stops above your head with your arms locked out, nearly doubling the range of motion compared to the Russian kettlebell swing, which stops as the kettlebell reaches just above your shoulder height, with your arms extended in front of you.

This exercise is highly beneficial and commonly seen in CrossFit and other functional fitness, and when performed correctly, it will exude immense gains.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to perform a proper American kettlebell swing…


Step #1
Start by deadlifting the kettlebell up to hang between your legs, with your feet planted and shoulder width apart. Hold it with both hands by the horns; make sure you have a good grip.

Step #2
From this point and throughout the swing, keep your head in fixed position as if you were holding a tennis ball under your chin. Similarly, ensure your shoulder blades are pinned back and your back should be straight.

Step #4
With the kettlebell now hanging between your legs, swing it backwards between your legs and then forwards, thrusting/punching your hips, thighs and lower back muscles forward so that the kettlebell gains momentum for the swing. Remember to keep your chest up, core tight and arms relaxed.

Step #5
As it swings forward and upwards, contract your abdominal muscles and glutes. As it travels along its path, slightly bend your elbows, allowing the kettlebell to stay slightly closer to your body than if your arms were stretched out.

Step #6
As the kettlebell moves upwards and almost reaches directly above your head, punch straight up hard with the kettlebell and use your lats (Latissimi dorsi) to stop it there. At this point, your knees, hips, shoulders, elbows and the kettlebell should be locked out and should all be in one straight line, when viewed from the side profile.

Step #7
Now release the kettlebell back downwards, so that it swings back following the same path that it took going up (elbows bending again slightly). As it moves back down between your legs, it should pass through the back of your legs so that if somebody is looking at you from a side profile, they will be able to see the kettlebell peeking out behind you.


American kettlebell swings are phenomenal for functional fitness. Using proper form is going to help you see results very fast. Form and technique take president over weight and intensity! Stick to these guidelines and you will soon master this awesome technique.

How often do you see kettlebell swings coming up in workouts? How good are you with American or even Russian kettlebell swings?

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