Kettlebell Technique: GU, Swing & Goblet Squat

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Level 6 Valued Member
Hi, all -

I just thought I'd share the following on this forum. It is a compilation of various tips and technique points I've gleaned from various sources over the course of many months. Take from it what you will, and please feel free to chime in. I also have done the same for the Clean, Press and Snatch, if anyone is interested.

I hope some of you find this helpful!

Remember to be “robotic” and hold each position as if someone is taking your picture. Always “breathe behind the shield,” exhaling during the transitions into each step. Inhale through the nose when you are in a static holding position.
Step 1: Roll to Press
• From the fetal position, grab the handle by the inside corner, closer to your midline, and roll onto your back.
• Press the weight overhead and “lock” your elbow with your knuckles flush with the ceiling. If your elbow bends, focus on “over-gripping” the ‘bell and goosenecking your wrist slightly.
• Turn your palm to face your feet. “Pack” your shoulder - imagine sucking your upper arm into your shoulder joint.
• Bend your working knee to ~90 degrees, keeping the heel close to your glute. Splay the free arm and leg fairly wide and parallel to each other.
Step: 2: To Elbow
• “Roll” toward the opposite elbow while driving the working heel into the ground, rotating the pelvis onto the hip. Ever so slightly “move” the ‘bell in the direction you are rolling.
• Think about driving the elbow down and behind you, “rowing” your body into place (practice this same technique on the way down to avoid “collapsing” to the floor). Play with the angle of the non-working arm (e.g. ~45 degrees away from the body up to ~70-80 degrees) to see what enhances a smoother roll.
• Stay tall and maintain space between your head and shoulders. Continue “packing” the working shoulder - imagine trying to keep your shoulder blade in your back pocket.
• If you have difficulty keeping the extended leg down, push the heel away from you while pulling your toes back. This will activate the glute and keep that leg from “popping” up. Remember that this step is a roll, not a crunch or sit-up. Imagine that leg as an axis to rotate around while keeping your abs braced.
• Everything should be vertically “stacked” - shoulder over shoulder over elbow.
Step 3: To Hand
• Keep the “bottom” shoulder packed. Rotate your hand so your fingertips point ~45 degrees away from your body. Fully extend that arm and “screw” your hand into the ground, turning your biceps out as far as you can.
• Continue lengthening your spine into a “tall sit” position.
• To the best of your ability, try to sit both hips evenly on the floor. Without optimal mobility, you will probably shift to the non-weighted side.
Step 4: To Lunge
• Push your bent knee (which until now has been pointing inward via internal rotation of the hip) out and in line with the heel to direct leg drive.
• Push down hard with your palm and working heel, lifting your hips high enough to sweep the opposite leg back.
• Make sure when planting the knee that it is in a straight line with the foot and hand. You will be in a “90/90” windmill position, with the working hip hinged to the side and the spine rotated but not bent.
• Push the chest out and the shoulders down and back, continuing to “screw” the bottom hand into the floor - “cinch up the X” before moving on to the next step.
• Hinge the hips back and shift your weight toward your trailing heel to form a perpendicular angle to the working leg. Simultaneously remove your hand from the ground, come to a kneeling position, and then “windshield wiper” the trailing leg into place.
• Until this point, your eyes should remain on the ‘bell. Once reaching the kneeling position, look straight ahead.
Step 5: Stand Up
• Adjust your stance and stand up – strive to keep the shin vertical and knee out.
Step 6: Get Down
• Step back with the opposite foot. Keep your hips squared to the front and lower your knee slowly to the floor.
• Recreate the perpendicular angle discussed earlier. From there, “trace” your hand down your thigh to the floor while hinging your hips back. Focus not on reaching the ground with your hand, but on hinging the hips sideways.
• Do not allow the working elbow to flex on the way down. This will compromise shoulder packing. Visualize “pushing yourself away from the kettlebell.”

2-Arm Swing
• “Screw” your feet into the floor and squeeze your glutes to create tension in the hips and stabilize the spine.
• Fold into your hips - reach your hamstrings back while striving to maintain vertical shins.
• Drive your knees apart without allowing your big toes to lose contact with the floor.
• Hook the ‘bell with your fingers and tilt it toward you to form an extension of your arms.
• “Pack” your shoulders into place and look straight ahead.
• Take a deep breath into your belly and hike the weight back with your lats. Aim to place the upper arms against the ribs and the forearms high against the inner thighs.
• “Jump through your heels” and snap the hips through to lockout while “planking” your abs, glutes and quads.
• Pretend to “throw” the weight forward. The heavier the ‘bell, the lower the swing’s peak.
• The arms must be straight but loose - like ropes. Leave them connected to your ribcage until the hips finish, at which point the ‘bell is “bumped” off the body.
• Let the kettlebell “float” momentarily. Once it starts falling, use your lats to “swim” it back between the legs.
• Your upper arms should contact your torso before you fold into the backswing (the ‘bell will be ~45 degrees from your legs). Stay upright and do not release the glutes until the last instant when you hinge your hips and get out of the way.
• Inhale sharply through the nose to “pressurize” on the backswing, and then exhale forcefully upon locking out the hips by hissing through clenched teeth.
1-Arm Swing
• At the top of each rep, focus on squaring your torso and cuing yourself to pull your shoulder straight down into your hip – squeeze your lat.
• Let the free arm swing back on the way down, and forward on the upswing to end in the “guard” position. Tap the working hand to ensure you are staying square.

• Find a stance that works for you. “Heels in your armpits,” or slightly wider, is a good starting point. The toes may face straight forward or turn out to ~15-20 degrees.
• “Screw” your feet into the floor and squeeze your glutes to create tension in the hips and stabilize the spine.
• Take a deep breath into your belly and brace your abs.
• Don’t unload the torso by flaring the elbows - keep them down, but allow the ‘bell to be away from the body as a counterbalance.
• Open the groin - “spread your side pockets” and “sit between your knees.”
• Squat as low as you can without rounding your lower back (e.g. thighs parallel to floor).
• Upon reaching maximum depth, place your elbows on the TOPS of your knees (rather than inside, as in prying). Push down with your elbows and try to lift your chest and make your spine “long.” Practice contract-relax and you may find you can squat much lower.
• Teach your legs to stabilize the squat by actively driving your knees away from your elbows. Keep the hips active and counter any forward lean by lifting your chest.
• Initiate the ascent with a grunt followed by a short pressurized exhale on the way up.
• “Feel your whole foot” and push the floor away from your body. Keep driving and maintaining alignment until reclaiming full hip extension at the top.
• You may opt to hold the ‘bell like a goblet (after swinging it into place with one arm) with the handle pointing toward the floor. If desired, perform Crush Curls for 3-5 reps.
Front Squat
• Reach forward with the opposite arm to improve counterbalance. Make a fist and squeeze hard – this will elicit much more tension in the body.
• Initiate the squat by pushing the hips back, chest up and knees out - “keep the kneecaps in line with their middle toes.”
• The rack arm may pivot out as you descend in order to keep the ‘bell in place.


Level 6 Valued Member
Nice collection. Something I always wanted to do! I hope there will be feedback from others on various cues and you can edit/tweak to maintain it! I am certainly bookmarking this post.

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
That is a good collection, thanks for sharing. I'd like to see what you have for clean, press, and snatch.


Level 6 Valued Member
Here is what I have for the Clean, Press and Snatch. Remember, most of these technique points are what have helped me personally. Hopefully some others get something out of this as well!

• Grab the handle by the inside corner, closer to your midline.
• Hike the weight and immediately tuck your elbow, “sticking” your upper arm to your ribs.
• This exercise is all about a powerful backswing and explosive hips - the 'bell should just float with your hand as you come up. Think about the movement, not the 'bell.
• Maintain a loose grip in order to facilitate the “soft” catch. At no point should you tightly grip the ‘bell - it should travel straight up your midline, rolling over the back of your hand into a “soft” rack position.
• The weight should go down almost exactly how it comes up. Drop the ‘bell down your midline and fully straighten your arm.
• Don’t let the ‘bell yank your elbow on the descent. Keep your armpit “shut” and absorb the load with your hips.

• Grab the handle by the inside corner, closer to your midline.
• Generate tension throughout your entire body by rooting your feet into the ground and contracting your abs, glutes, and quads. Flare your lat to stabilize the shoulder.
• Take a breath just before you press, and then release the air slowly as the ‘bell travels upward. If pressing a heavy weight, exhale on the way up, inhale while the ‘bell rests at lockout, and then exhale again during its descent.
• Crush the handle and press yourself away from the weight, keeping the shoulder packed down. Make a fist with the opposite hand to increase and balance tension.
• If you are working with a heavier weight, shift the hip more to that side so your frame can carry more of the load. With a lighter weight, keep your form strict and stand upright.
• Imagine tracing a semi-circle with your elbow as you grind the ‘bell up and away. Because of the need to keep the forearm vertical, the upper arm needs to open out a bit as you press. How far this is depends on how long your arms are - people with long limbs will need to have their arms at almost 90 degrees to the body.
• Try to keep the forearm and elbow directly under the weight. Imagine pressing from the elbow and think of your forearm as part of the weight rather than your body.
• Lockout your elbow with your bicep next to or slightly behind your ear.
• Use your lat to actively pull the ‘bell back into the rack position. Flex the bicep as if performing a 1-arm pull-up.

• Grab the handle by the inside corner, closer to your midline.
• Think of your hips as a pinball hammer, and the ‘bell as the pinball. “Pull the hammer back” by hinging the hips, and then squeeze your glutes and drive your feet into the floor.
• “Paint the fence” to shorten the arc of the snatch.
• When the ‘bell reaches it’s “float point” (approximately eye level), punch through it and open your hand. Remember that gripping the ‘bell too tightly results in a slow rotation, causing it to flip over onto the wrist.
• Lockout your elbow with the armpit “open” and the upper arm alongside your ear.
• Keep pushing up on the ‘bell when it is overhead. Avoid excessive shoulder flexion and relying on the rotator cuff to stop the trajectory of the ‘bell at the top. Imagine a “power source” in the locked elbow, sending energy up the forearm and down into the shoulder.
• Don’t just let the ‘bell fall - actively throw it into your stomach and reload your hips.
• On the backswing, sniff in some air. Exhale on the hip pop - not the catch.


Level 4 Valued Member
Corresponding pictures and videos would make this much more useful for those of us not speaking English natively :):):)

Great thread, nevertheless!


Level 1 Valued Member
These are great cues, I am sure they will help! I am very attuned to auditory learning and I know others are as well. What I am going to do is read them into my phone for each exercise, then listen to them immediately prior to performing the exercise.


Level 4 Valued Member
Thanks @Abdul Rasheed. Already did, as a sticky bookmark :)

But for newcomers it would be great to read this, even before posting first question, as probably some of the questions would be answered by this post.

Stan Kansiewicz

Level 1 Valued Member
Hi, all -

Step 1: Roll to Press
• From the fetal position, grab the handle by the inside corner, closer to your midline, and roll onto your back.

Is the full Fetal Position Roll SFG standard or is it simply two hands to upright supported?

Thanks in Advance


Level 1 Valued Member
although I've only quickly scanned your list i will be back to check it out in more detail. Despite the amount of instructions out there sometimes it is one person's explanation/phrasing that really resonates me.

Definitely curious about other people's magic moment type cues that they have come across that have really made something click into place.


Level 5 Valued Member
Thanks for sharing .as its been said easy to forget cues .you've wrote this post in a clear way even I can understand

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Is the full Fetal Position Roll SFG standard or is it simply two hands to upright supported?

It may have changed, but in May 2015 it was the roll from the side fetal position with two hands, then take the other hand away and press up from the floor (from where the elbow is on the ground and forearm upright) with ONE hand. I also have never turned the palm to face the feet, but I don't see anything wrong with it, if it works.

Steve Freides

Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
When I read a post with this many individual cues, I confess that I suffer from information overload.

I'll add it to the Sticky of Stickies in the Kettlebell Forum.



Level 6 Valued Member
Aw! I'm glad this information was helpful in some way!

I'm constantly revising my notes, so maybe I will provide an update soon.
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