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Kettlebell Swing Tutorial part III – the 1 Hand Swing

This is part 3 of the kettlebell swing tutorial, in case you missed the earlier episodes, click here for part I and here for part II.

This episode is about the single arm swing. Once you’ve mastered the two handed swing it is only natural to move to the single hand version. This then forms the foundation for all future kettlebell work as the bell is usually held in a single arm for lifts such as the clean and snatch, or you hold a bell in each hand for more advanced lifting.

Like all unilateral or single limb exercises the single arm swing is extra challenging for the core musculature. We discussed in the last episode the importance of keeping the shoulder blade anchored and the back arched, these points become even more important now. When the bell is held in both hands, the load is spread across both shoulders and the force is directed through the core in a purely sagittal plane and the core is preventing the spine from being pulled into forward flexion. Now with the bell in one hand the force is travelling through the body in a diagonal, or more accurately spiraling, pattern from the loaded shoulder, through to the opposite hip. This, if unresisted will pull the spine into forward flexion AND rotation. It is the job of the core musculature to protect the spine and keep it safe. Many of my clients after learning the one handed swing tell me it leaves their abs more tired than a hundred crunches!

Keeping the shoulder anchored is also of greater importance, all the centrifugal force generated by the bell swinging is being directed through one shoulder. If the Shoulder blade is not anchored down there is a risk of rotator cuff injury. this is most problematic at either end of the swing, the top where many relax the shoulder allowing the bell to pull them forwards and the bottom of the swing where

Check out this dude's droopy little bell

the body is in a stretched position.

So done right the single arm swing offers an excellent opportunity to strengthen injury prone areas of the body (upper and lower back) while developing an extremely strong and reactive core unit and a huge amount of endurance while you’re at it. Done wrong and you run the risk of pulled muscles around the scapula and low back pain. With proper instruction (which this video is no replacement for……) and slow, gradual progress, the rewards outweigh the risks tenfold.

As always, progress slowly and do your best to find a GOOD instructor (they do exist, you just have to do your homework).

Here’s the video


We teach the single arm swing on our Level 2 workshop, dates for upcoming workshops are on the side bar.



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