Spice Things Up By Swinging A Little Differently

Written by Travis Mattern from Fitness Education Online

The Kettlebells swing is undoubtedly the most popular Kettlebell exercise and is in my opinion one of the best bang for buck options: Why? Well it has a super quick learning curve, is safe, works the posterior chain, challenges the cardiovascular system and it still resistance based training.

I’ve written previously about some of the common technical errors with the swing (you can read that here  Today I’m going to share with your some of the amazing variations you can add in to spice up your swings and why these are important.

I want to start with what I believe is the biggest non technique error when it comes to swings. In my opinion the biggest mistake people make with their swings is not going heavy enough. I’ve been a part of many bootcamp and coached many people and the amount of times people say, ‘oh 8kg that is too heavy for me.’ Realistically, almost any gen pop person should have ZERO issue swinging an 8kg Kettlebell. The common reasons this problem plagues most people are; Fear, due to not knowing how to complete the movement correctly; or coaches/trainers not having access to equipment, not having enough heavier kettlebells. Now, it’s this second reason why having swing variations are important.

To perform each of the following variations the technique is pretty similar. If you’re after more in depth info check out our Fitness Australia registered Kettlebell CEC courses.

1)      The first option is pretty straight forward. It is the single hand swing. This is great because all of a sudden your working unilaterally (one side at a time) and that light weight essentially just got twice as hard. Not only is it tougher, it’s also a great way to hide in double the repetitions as you work the left and right side individually. The other benefit with the unilateral exercise is that it challenges the core much more as the force is only applied to one side. The most important thing here is if changing hands whilst swinging, change at the top of the swing, not at the bottom. Finally, you can simply double the load by using a kettlebell in each hand, now this in my opinion doesn’t actually make it harder because it also evens out the load. Simply swinging a heavier single bell is more challenging.

Single Arm Swings

2)      Skier Swing – This option is great for a few different reasons. Firstly, it changes the path of the kettlebell further away from the midline of the body, making it more challenging and secondly, it is great for people who may have issues with making space between their legs for swings. Again, being a unilateral exercise, it is a great way to work in extra repetitions and also becomes more challenging for the core. Again, use two kettlebells to increase the load (again, this in my opinion isn’t harder, using a single heavier bell would be harder than two lighter bells). Technically, you stand with your feet pretty close together and the kettlebell will pass to the outside of the legs. Everything else remains the same. Start slow, build the confidence to avoid slamming a ball of metal into your knees.

Skier Swings

3)      The final variation is a little bit different, it is the pendulum swing. The reason I love this one, is that it changes the path of the kettlebell. Normal swings are just forwards and backwards (sagittal plane). Yes, working unilaterally, adds an element of anti-rotation, but that is nothing compared to the pendulum swing.  This swing is done in front of the body, going left to right (or vice versa) and you pivot on the back foot to square the hips up. The reason I love this variation so much is that it is such a similar pattern to so many athletic movements, think; swinging a golf club, tennis racket, cricket bat, baseball bat; throwing a punch; throwing a ball; you name it, so many movements involve pivoting on the back foot to create explosive power.Pendulum Swings

These are my 3 favourite variations of the kettlebell swing. Where and why would I use each one? Essentially, as previously mentioned for three key reasons; first, I don’t have access to heavy enough kettlebells and would still like to provide a challenging workout; secondly, to work unilaterally. I like the single arm options as it is a great way to add in extra volume to your workload, because you’ll work each side separately; and finally, simply variety. Sometimes swinging the kettlebell the same way over and over again can get a little boring. I have done programs personally where I do 300 swings a day for a month, it is nice to throw in some variety to this after the first day.

Thank you for checking out  Fitness Education Online Blog!

Fitness Education Online are one of the leading providers in the world when it comes to the professional development of Personal Trainers. We have over 30 registered CEC courses Click here to check them out.

Feel free to join our Free Facebook Group with over 14 000 other Fitness Professionals Click here to Join


Travis is the co-founder and director at Fitness Education Online. Fitness Education Online is one of the leading organisations in the world when it comes to providing CEC courses for Personal Trainers.


Travis is the co founder and director at Fitness Education Online. Fitness Education Online are one of the leading organisations in the world when it comes to providing CEC courses for Personal Trainers. Check out their website below to see their range of Fitness Australia registered courses.


Get In Touch With Us

Related Articles

Themed Workout

Themed Workout

When you have your clients showing up to your sessions day in and day out, it should be pretty clear that they are getting something out of it that is of benefit to them. They either love your style of training, you as a trainer/friend, their team mates or maybe the...

Accumulator Workout for Large Groups!

Accumulator Workout for Large Groups!

A super effective, bodyweight only session which works perfectly for large groups and if you have limited equipment. As the name suggests, its all about accumulating as many reps as we can in 20 minutes, similar to an AMRAP but adding 3 reps on to each round.  I like...

Warm up for Bootcamp

Warm up for Bootcamp

A great 5 - 10 minute warm up for bootcamp to improve our muscles dynamics so we are less inclined to injury, prepare us for the rigors of exercise. And getting a light sweat on without fatigue is key in our group sessions, but it also helps to get both ourselves and...