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Kettlebell Swing form detail

Eric Stone

Level 1 Valued Member
Assuming the hip hinge is explosive enough to raise the bell high enough, is one supposed to limit the height of their swing by a lat pull-down/decelerating action? Or is the "float" achieved by upward deltoid engagement?

Background: I'm a skinny 5'7.5" and 130 lbs. I went to an SFG because I wanted to start on Simple & Sinister. He started by building my capacity with DLs, and when I independently started swinging, he was pleased that my form was as good as it was just from reading S&S and watching videos. That said, I'm trying to tease out the nuances. I naturally swing the 16 to about face level, though initially I was "helping it along" with deltoids. Even when I avoid that, it certainly wants to go higher than chest level. Is part of the game limiting the height of the swing? And is producing "float" at the top of the swing more of a positive or negative action?

As long as I'm at it, I suppose I should ask if there's supposed to be any intentional muscle engagement on the downswing, or is it really just a controlled drop? Of course, I'm not talking about bracing core, maintaining form, etc. I mean is there anything one does to help it along.


BJJ Shawn

Level 6 Valued Member
I'll preface with the fact that I'm not an SFG. I have found that the answer is, it depends. With lighter weights, I do all the above that you are speaking about (use lats to stop the swing height, forcefully throw the bell downward rather than letting it drop) but with that lower weight my goal is not the same as with a bigger bell that I may not be able to do all of that. With a bigger bell, my goals change to focus more on a snappy hip hinge and I don't try to throw the bell as much.

Daniel Vintila

Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
The only thing your lats should be doing is stabilize your body, together with your braced abs in the top position.
As stated previously the power of a swing and bell height they all come from the hip and leg drive,and it also depends on the direction in which you are projecting that power. If you give 100% the bell doesn't necessarily have to go to eye level.

In hardstyle swings that top position plank is seen as your rest period when pefroming swings so let the bell float and then drop on its own. Your arms act as a ropes connected to the bell.

There are instances when you could actively drive the bell down and cancel that short rest at the top, but depends on your training. For S&S let the bell float.

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Team Leader Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I naturally swing the 16 to about face level, though initially I was "helping it along" with deltoids. Even when I avoid that, it certainly wants to go higher than chest level.
Yes, this question will answer itself when you swing 24 or 32kg or something more calibrated to your leg/hip power. Not that I'd rush to that, but once your swing is solid and your weight is enough for a challenging weighted hardstyle swing, it will naturally go about to chest height and generally won't go higher until you get really good and powerful with that weight (time to move up!). Also, higher than chest height isn't a fault, per se, but it could indicate some things about the swing that could be improved. Or it can just indicate that you're not swinging a challenging weight. Or that you're doing a different style of swing (i.e. Crossfit style, raised overhead).

The float is felt when you explosively propel the bell up. So it's achieved with the "up" effort. In contrast, if the "up" effort is slow and laggy (not explosive), it will feel continuous and the momentum of the bell will be missing that "pop" feeling. It will just kind of go up, and then come down. Stay tight and snap your body explosively to the plank position, and you'll feel it. It's a great practice point! It helps you refine your effort and timing. So it's a matter of BOTH trying harder (a more forceful contraction getting to plank position) but also trying less hard, by limiting the duration of the effort. This is where some of the efficiency comes from, when you find you are able to do 10 swings with 32kg or more with the same effort you once felt you were putting out with 10 swings with 16kg.

Yeah the down is more of a controlled drop, though there are types of swings (shadow swings, overspeed, more or less the same thing... drills where you have a band around the bell, a partner pushing it down, etc.) that can be used to improve swing technique, engage the abs more, speed the cadence of the set, or other purposes. But the basic hardstyle swing just has the lats engaged enough for good control, not actively pushing the kettlebell down.
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