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Examining The Single Arm Kettlebell Swing

Examining The Single Arm Kettlebell Swing

The original publishing date of today’s article was back on August 13, 2015.

The single arm kettlebell swing is a unique lift that can provide a ton of benefits to your strength program. Once your technique is locked in you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about as you’ll notice huge improvements in your forearm and grip strength, as well as your core stability for having to square your body during the movement.

I know you’re going to appreciate today’s article. Read and apply.

A commonly used weapon in many strength coaching circles is the kettlebell swing. The lift itself fortifies the body in a special way by calling on the trainee to perform some of the most dynamic movements the human body is capable of producing.

Enter The Single Arm Kettlebell Swing…

The kettlebell swing fills the gaps in human performance and if there are any gaps left unfilled after the kettlebell swing then there are variations of this movement to serve and pick up the slack. Today I’m talking about the last part of that statement!

For the last 6 years I’ve utilized kettlebells in my strength and conditioning program. In a flashback I remember the UPS guy delivering a package to my front door grunting and complaining about trying to haul this heavy cardboard box up to my front doorstep.

Man grabbing the handle of a kettlebell to lift up off of the ground.

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The box included a 32kg (72 lb.) kettlebell that I intended on taking straight to the weight room to test out on my own. After 8 to 10 weeks of solid training with the iron cannonball I remember walking into the weight room with intentions on including this instrument into my day’s training after some heavy squatting.

My legs were pumped and I remember looking and feeling the growth of my grip strength, forearms, and shoulders from having utilized the kettlebell for almost 3 months up to this point. I could now crank out some aggressive swings with the 72 lb bell and felt strong when doing so. I had dabbled with other movements, but I was intent on mastering a couple of moves at a time before worrying about moving on to the next lift… and the next one after that.

However on this day I realized that I needed a challenge. With a 72 lb. bell who would’ve thought I would be seeking another challenge? The point is when you’re consistent with the basic kettlebell swing movement you get strong and adapt in a hurry.

The challenge that I decided to transition to was the single arm kettlebell swing! This had an immediate impact. Boy what a different experience that was for the first time.

The single arm swing quickly forced me to seek out stability for my entire body. Because the weight is swinging from one hand I could immediately tell the movement was different than that of the more conventional double arm kettlebell swing.

When performing the single arm kettlebell swing I had to make more certain that my feet were firmly grounded and that the arc of the swing was close to my body. If I got overextended with it then the lift started looking and feeling sloppy in a hurry. In addition to this I would immediately find myself unstable and off balance.

Aside from all of this my grip was being tested like crazy and I found it more challenging to square up my shoulders at the top of the movement.

At the beginning of this article I spoke about “filling gaps” in one’s training. The double arm swing offers a lot, but the single arm kettlebell swing can fill those needed gaps once you are comfortable with the technique of the double arm swing.

The point is that you want to pay attention to the details and paying attention to the details means you need to be able to identify the problems. Chances are the first time you attempt a single arm kettlebell swing you will experience some of those problems. When you’re confident in your technique the outcome should look something like this.

As you can see the move should be seamless and continuous just like the double arm version of the swing. Also take notice of my hand and bell rotation. I like to point out in the video that I like to teach my trainees that the loaded hand (with the kettlebell) can rotate from a palms down position to a thumbs down position at the bottom of the swing.

Of course, at the top of the swing this process is the other way around. In my experience this helps with the transition of the movement and allows for a more seamless lift.

Single Arm Kettlebell Swing: The Takeaway

Tackling the single arm kettlebell swing can be challenging and if you are going to do so you need to make sure you’re 110% confident in your double arm swing.

Are you currently using the single arm kettlebell swing in your training? 

How often do you perform kettlebell swings? 

Post up and share in the comments here below. 

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I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

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