The Fatal Flaw In the Kettlebell Swing: The Kettlebell Coaching Series

You’ve probably seen headlines like this before…. kettlebell swings and saving your back OR the one thing you need to fix in your kettlebell swing OR the guide to the most effective kettlebell swing. Yet here you are… you still clicked… Why?

jillian2Teaching the kettlebell swing (a good, safe one) is as hard as teaching Olympic Style Lifts because so many things can go wrong. Plus… there is more bad info out there than good as evidenced by Fit EDU’s “go to resource for kettlebell swings” and celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels. If you haven’t picked up on the sarcasm please try your best to keep up.

Here are a few critical elements of the swing we will assume you know how to teach (if not you can find an link to article on that topic below):


  1. How to hip hinge through the clients full range of motion
  2. How to brace at the top of the swing 
  3. How to ensure explosiveness (from the bottom to the top)
  4. How to breathe (biomecanical breathing match and diaphragmatic breathing)



*Note: any of the above can also be fatal flaws, but we are assuming you already know how to address all of the above because you’re an awesome movement coach** Oh by the way… we offer 2 levels of kettlebell seminars. Check them out

Ok… now that we have gotten this far its time to focus on the one thing that separates good kettlebell coaches from great ones. SEQUENCE in the downswing. You can see poor sequencing in the first portion of this video. Liz (sorry Liz!) hip hinges before closing the gap between her body and the kettlebell. In other words, she does a poor job of allowing the kettlebell to get close to her body before hinging.

Here’s another example illustrated by Coach Erik (while he is discussing explosiveness in this video it is still very applicable).

Let’s do a lame/generic review of physics and then apply to the swing.

Center of mass- The point, about which the distribution of these individual weights is symmetrical, is the center of gravity of the body. Thus, if a body has more mass distributed in its upper part, the center of gravity will be closer to the top of the body.

External load- A load (kettlebell in our case)

Ok… so time to apply these terms to kettlebell swings. In the kettlebell swing the further the external load (kettlebell) is from the body and more specifically center of mass to greater the stress on the body. Huh? The further the kettlebell is from our body the harder it is to control and the more likely we are to allow the spine to flex/extend which increases the likelihood of injury.

Now that you can identify bad sequencing in the downswing (if you’re still not sure watch the videos above one more time). We need to make one more point before we talk fixes…



Above all else we have a natural instinct to keep ourselves free of harm. Logical. However, this is to our detriment in the swing. We often hip hinge early because our instincts tell us to… so the kettlebell doesn’t hit us in the crotch (even though it won’t).  We have to fight an instinct that goes back tens of thousands of years so please be patient with your clients. This will take time. The bottom line is they need do the equivalent of “play chicken with your manhood” as Coach Erik so eloquently puts it. He’s a wordsmith. Not truly applicable when training women, but using this cue still works and usually gets a chuckle.

To the fixes:

Medicine Ball Drill

Long Lever Drills: Core Blaster / Rope

We have more… many, many more, but these are a good start. We really like starting with the medicine ball drill as there is immediate feedback. Bad sequence… you hit the med ball. It’s a bit jarring, but doesn’t hurt. It quickly gets the point across. If this doesn’t resolve the sequencing issue then we go the the rope or core blaster. For more info on sequencing and to make “Play chicken with your manhood” actually make sense check out this article.

If you interested in formal education in this area, but don’t want to go broke or feel like you are joining the military check out our Kettlebell Coaching Seminar. We are preapproved for 8 CEUs by all the major certifying bodies and most of the others will accept our curriculum with an appeal.

Have questions? Email us

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