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Old Forum Training the KB swing for strength,power and conditioning.

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As most of you know the swing saved my life. And my wife's. For many many years all I could train was the one hand swing and the snatch ( occasionally). Two hand swings and two bell swings locked up my back due to asymmetry.
But little by little the one arm swing did it's magic and now I can do all the swing variations heavy and often with no problems.

I think that for many the swing is a great alternative to the squat or deadlift as the centerpiece of their training practice.
For most of my Iron life I lived for the squat and did the deadlift because I had to. I learned to program this one simple exercise many different ways,depending on the goal I wanted to accomplish.

I'd like to do this now with the swing and want to present this simple approach to organizing your swing training as you would a 'lift' and not just an 'exercise'  with homage to Mark Rippetoe.

It's very simple. Choose a kettlebell size. If you want to concentrate on the conditioning side of things use one around snatch size. If you want more strength go up to a bell that challenges your for  sets of 10 and upwards of 100 total reps. This is for two hand swings. If you want or need to use one hand swings or hand to hand swings make the adjustment.

Pick the time period you want to train: 15 , 30 or 45 minutes. It's up to you. Pick the swing variation you want,again, your  choice. A swing is a swing is a swing.

Do between 5-10 reps per set and rest as little as possible and as much as necessary between sets. Do as many sets as you can for the time period you allotted. Tally the reps at the end of the practice. This is your 100% for the moment.Multiply the weight times the reps and get your total volume lifted.
You might be amazed at the work done.Or at least surprised.

Now, once a week do this:

Wk 1 75% of total reps done at 100%

Wk2 80% of total reps

Wk 3 90% of total reps

Wk 4 105% of total reps. New Best.

Wk 5 start over at 75 %

In no time at all you will amazed at how many more total work you are doing in the same time period. A nice indicator of increased intensity AND work capacity.

Pick a new weight and or a new swing variation and start over. OR, just stay with it and master that movement and bell.

"The swing is the best strength and conditioning exercise for 100% of all people 99% of the time."


Treat the Swing as the Lift that it is and be prepared for strength, muscle mass, power, stability and just inner grit from doing  all that pure work.
In the past ~5 years of KB work, I continue to be TOTALLY AMAZED at how often The Swing transfers over to pretty much EVERY athletic and movement endeavor I take on.  AND does not beat my body up like running, powerlifting, etc, etc, etc...

Great stuff as always. I haven't thrown in the Highland games since last September and plan on throwing at the Joplin Games 6 weeks from today. My plan is to run a Modified Program Minimum 3x per week, and Throw heavy once.

The Swing is the backbone of my program. I have wanted to experiment to see how just using Bells and focusing on the swing would effect my throwing, and since I  haven't lifted or thrown since Late September this should prove interesting. The biggest thing I want to see is the reaction to the WOB  (Weight over bar)

The WOB isn't a true hard style swing but the swing I feel develops the power for the WOB. The WOB is a hip hinge but you need to reach further back than the traditional swing for a greater radius and instead of focusing on snapping the implement forward you have to drop your hips and drive upward. It is going to be interesting to see the results!

Pavel said that heavy swings 100-200 of them is sufficent for conditioing.  I am using a 70lb bell 1/3 of my weight, the main purpose of the swing for me is conditioing, how would I use the bell of that size for the purpose of endurnace?  I know you said in the post use a lighter snatch weight bell for that.  I love the strength it builds, but I am really looking for the other piece of the puzzle


I am doing Naked Warrior, so once a week Swings sounds great for me. I will try your program.

Thanks Mark!

I'm a little slow. After you've determined your 100% and are in weekks 1-5, Do you time the 75-105% efforts to match the original time or  do you focus on just take thenlittlemas possible and enough as necessary approach and note the total time?

I hope I'm not over-complicating this.


thanks, I too am amazed at how much versatility there is in this simple movement. I am coming back to re focusing on the swing in my heavy saturday workouts instead of the snatch. While the snatch is the Tsar of the KB lifts the Swing is the King  imho.

At least for me and most of my students.
Plus I can go heavier, which is always fun. :)
Mark wrote: "Pick the time period you want to train: 15 , 30 or 45 minutes. It’s up to you. Pick the swing variation you want,again, your  choice. A swing is a swing is a swing."

Would you apply this to the rhythmic, soft-style swing as well, or is this a different enough movement that it would not fit this template?
"Pure work" is true, too. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, just you and the bell and one simple thing to do.

I have some friends in Highland games and always wondered why they didn't focus more of kb swings for the weight over the bar ( WOB) event. Yes it is a slightly different groove but the essence of mechanics is the same.It's almost like a combination of the hardstyle swing and a kettlebell sport swing.
Let us know your progress

you could absolutely use that bell for conditioning,even according to my plan above. Just use two hand swings for 10-20 sets of 10 in as short a time as your recovery allows( going by HR) 30% bell weight is perfect for power production as well so you're set.

I don't see why you couldn't use the kb sport swing in this protocol. Just adjust for the goals ( time length and or grip work) and swing away.It seems that the gs swing is done for higher reps and longer times but that still fits in the program; once you find your CURRENT personal best, just use the percentages to progress it and then re test.

It depends what the goal(s) is ( are) If your goal is to do the same amount of reps in a shorter time then you would have to work on decreasing rest periods. If the goal is more reps with the same weight then you wouldn't worry about the total time as much.

Rarely do I personally like to push the cardio component so I am usually focused on doing more total reps in the workout even if it takes awhile. One could also do more reps per set to get the total up without increasing the overall workout time,

The suggestion to "pick a time period" is more about setting up the amount of time one wants to practice.Some people only allocate 15 minutes for their training while others like to train for an hour plus. The point is that the swing training is adaptable for any of those time periods.
I hope that is clear.:)
Mark, I was breaking this down with Laura Dill, most think the barbell Back squat is what makes the WOB go, and it isn't. You can't squat the event technique, it is a hip hinge.

So I listen to them argue and just nod and smile and go on...
Hi Mark,

This would work with a T bar instead of  kettlebell, i ask as i work on an oil rig and my Kbs are at home :-( so i could get a good go with the basic idea, i made  T bar so i could at least do some swings.

I would most likely go for the 15 mins swings with 30k , follwed by some pressing then a bit of Bagwork ( i kickbox, so i lilke to do a little every workout if i can in lieu of a coach and partner)

one of the best things about this approach is it's variability. You can get personal bests for any time length, bell size or rep approach. the key is just to progressively cycle your training , hit a new best and then re cycle. have fun!


you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them think:)
cheers, mark,

I base my training on a 6 day rota when on the rig, 2 days on 1 days rest, 1st day conditioning work, 2nd day strength, so that should fit in nicely on the 1st day of the 6 :)

1 Tbar swings

2 O lifting practice

3 rest

4 Body weight conditioning

5 Barbell strength work

6 rest

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