Kettlebell Vertical Swing – Tutorial
First of all, sorry about the random picture of Tim – I forgot to take a still picture for this tutorial when I was filming it and I couldn’t be bothered getting changed and all that, so Tim is my stand-in LOL – who could resist his clueless face
You will often see me perform this exercise in my workouts, even combined with a half burpee too. I think, although not technically a swing, this exercise is excellent for the cardio vascular system, strength (weight dependent), endurance and, to some degree, explosive power. I didn’t make this exercise up as it is one I have done since seeing Steve Cotter demonstrate it in his encyclopedia of Kettlebell Exercises, which I am sure can be downloaded from somewhere (must look it up again). He explains that as it is not a horizontal movement, this is why it’s not really a swing. I believe some people may called it an extended or overhead high pull?
Anyway, why I love this exercise is because it is near enough a full body exercise, utilising the legs, arms, shoulders, back and core.
Key teaching points:
- Power comes mainly from the legs, and the arms take over from chest height.
- Keep it close to the front of the body as it should always be a vertical movement.
- At the bottom of the exercise quads should be close to parallel to the ground, back straight, head up, shoulders pulled back and down.
- At the top of the exercise, knees and hips should be fully extended, glutes tight, thumbs should be facing the ceiling (meaning the KB handle rests in the crook of the hand, meaning you will not loose your head if your grip gives out), if you look up with your eyes only, you should not be able to see the KB, it should be right over your head.
- As the KB moves up and down the body, the hands slide around the handle to adjust the grip.
- Remember thumbs up at the top
How to do it:
- Stand right over the kettlebell, in a sumo squat position (legs wider than hip width).
- Squat as low as you can, keep the head up, back straight, shoulders back and down.
- Reach down and grab the handle of the kettlebell, using an over-hand grip (thumbs under the handle at this stage).
- Using the legs, power up to a standing position but use the energy from the legs to allow the kettlebell to move up the front of the body as if you were doing an upright row.
- As the kettlebell travels up in front of your face, begin to slide the hands under the handle, so when the kettlebell is above your head, the thumbs face up.
- When then kettlebell is above the head, ensure the shoulders are pulled back and down, allowing the kettlebell to be right over your head.
- As you reverse the movement, keep the KB close to the front of the body, and let the grip return to an over-hand position.
So, this is how to do the Vertical Swing. For beginners, just use a lighter weight, until you are happy with the technique. Another adaptation, if you are not comfortable with holding a kettlebell over your head, is to do an upright row (lifting the kettlebell no higher than chest height), instead of the above. The change in grip position should prevent any mishaps with the kettlebell above the head.
I hope this is enough direction to allow safe and correct execution of this great exercise. Thanks.
PS. No one has ever dropped a kettlebell on their head in any of our classes