Optimizing The Kettlebell Swing Part 10: Where To Next?

Welcome back everyone to our FINAL part on Optimizing The Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing.

Over the past 10 weeks we’ve covered A LOT.

From learning how to hinge your hips to creating your own custom training plan, we’ve tried our best to give you everything we know about learning, training, and mastering the Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing.

As we stressed in Part 9, referring back to the basics of the swing - hinging your hips, creating and mastering a setup routine, and dedicating yourself to a consistent practice - will yield life-changing strength.


The hardest part is simply showing up.

The difference between the best of the best and everyone else is the best MASTER the fundamentals to an extraordinary degree…

Keep that in mind the next time you want to get “sexy” with your training plan.

But where do you go once you’ve learned, trained, and mastered the Hardstyle Kettlebell Swing?


That’s where our final part of the series picks up.

In the world of kettlebell training skill progression is very much like a pyramid; the more advanced the skill the wider your skill base needs to be.

The 2-Handed Swing is a BIG piece of your kettlebell skill foundation.

1-Handed Swings

Leaving off with your 2-Handed Swing, the 1-Handed Swing is a great place to pick up.

This is your first entry point into the skills that follow (Single and Double Cleans and Snatches).

Keep in mind your 1-Handed Swing will only be as good as your 2-Handed Swing.


If you can’t 2-Hand Swing to a high degree, moving onto the 1-Handed Swing will be short lived as you’ll soon need to fine-tune your swing with the 2-Handed variation…

This post isn’t meant to be a tutorial on how to 1-Hand Swing, Clean, or Snatch a kettlebell, but instead we want to simply share with you what you can do with each variation and why you might want to aim for said skill.


That being said, one area the 1-Hand Swing tops the 2-Hand Swing is the need for core stability.


In the 1-Hand Swing the bell is trying to “twist” you at the top and bottom of your swing.


Maintaining square shoulders at the top and bottom gives you a “suitcase carry-like” feel to your swing.


You could also consider the 1-Handed Swing a “dynamic side plank”... with force and added weight…


Aside from the 1-Hand Swing requiring more core stability, it’s also your gateway to higher skill development in the Single and Double Snatch and the Single and Double Clean.

Snatches

Perhaps the “pinnacle” of kettlebell training is the Kettlebell Snatch.

Easily the most bad-ass of the bunch, the snatch is an aggressive move where the student “swing’s” the bell over head.




There are FAR more details than simply, “swinging the bell over head” but in a sense, that’s what’s happening.


Many people jump to the Snatch too soon and wind up muscling the Snatch via an upright row.



Not only is this a recipe for shoulder/neck injuries… it’s a recipe for shoulder and neck injuries…


Sorry that’s enough for us to consider the alternative!


The alternative is translating your 1-Hand Swing skill into learning the Hardstyle Snatch.



Again, to avoid turning this into a tutorial, here’s what you can expect from the Hardstyle Snatch when compared to a 1-Handed or 2-Handed Swing…



A LOT MORE CARDIO!



The Snatch doesn’t get the nickname of “Cardio King” for nothing (though honestly we think Long Cycle Clean and Jerks might take the cake on that one).

The ballistic nature of your 2-Handed and 1-Handed Swings carries directly into the Hardstyle Snatch.


In addition, the Snatch requires MORE power in order to drive the bell over your head..

This increased need for power makes it more difficult to “tame” the bell from twisting you - adding an increased demand for core stability.


Add the increased demand for power and core stability with the cardiovascular effects from training overhead and you get, “The Cardio King”.

Cleans + Complexes

We placed Cleans and Complexes “under” the Snatch in this post for one reason; we feel learning the Clean is more difficult than learning the Snatch.

While skill-wise the Snatch is often times placed above the Clean, the Clean requires more finesse as opposed to the Snatch.

Because the Snatch demands so much more power from you it’s easy to think, “rip into the swing” and you wind up with a - somewhat decent - Snatch.

If your kettlebell skills were on a volume knob where “10” is max effort, you could make the argument the Snatch would be at an “11” while the Clean might be at a “3”...

Somewhere in between you’d find your 1-Handed and 2-Handed Swings.

That’s not to say you’ll never Swing at a “3” or an “11”, we’re just painting a picture of the type of effort each skill requires from you.


The hard part with the clean is - well - the clean itself!


It’s easy to “over clean” the bell driving too much power into the floor, resulting in the bell smashing against your wrist and/or shoulder.


On the flip side is also easy to “under clean” the bell leaving you dipping under the bell trying to “muscle” it into position.


Finding that right balance of a tight, full lockout and the grace of guiding the bell into position is where the clean lives.



Cleans are like Pandora’s Box; once you learn how to clean you’ve opened a WORLD of possibilities.


Mainly, now you can create complexes…


Complexes are a FANTASTIC way to train a number of lifts in a short amount of time.

For example, once you learn the Clean you can do a complex consisting of:

  • Swing

  • Clean

  • Press

  • Squat


You can choose to do that with one bell or with two.


With Complexes you are only limited to your creativity and skill level.


For example, if you know how to Snatch, Bent Press, Windmill, and Getup, you could create a “Super Sexy” complex (maybe more like a Flow) consisting of the following:

  • Swing

  • Clean

  • Press

  • Snatch

  • Get Down (The reverse part of a Getup)

  • Getup

  • Windmill

  • Bent Press


How you choose to structure your Complexes is 100% up to you and should hinge around your training goal.


If your goal is overall strength; again don’t get sexy.


Simple, Clean, Press, Squat work - Single or Double - does a GREAT job as producing “body armor”.


Your “Complex World” begins with a Clean, and your Clean - of course - can be traced back to a great 2-Handed Swing.

Other “Spices”

If you’ve trained with kettlebells before or read other kettlebell articles online you might be saying, “Whoa, whoa. What about Jerks, Bent Presses, Windmills, and Double Snatches?”

To answer your question; “Yes.”

All are fantastic strength and conditioning exercises, but again like the Clean - all (ballistic ones that is) can be traced back to a Mastery-Level proficiency in the 2-Handed Swing.

  • Play around.

  • Learn new skills.

  • Above all, “Enjoy The Ride”


Personally, we find choosing a goal and sticking to the skills required of the goal works best in mastering specific skills.

Us coaches at Evolution will often times dedication 6-12 months fine-tuning ONE specific skill.

It’s not to say we don’t train any of the other ones, but it’s not uncommon for one specific skill to consume the “meat and potatoes” portion of our training plans…

As we said in the beginning, once you’ve mastered the Hardstyle Swing where you choose to go next is up to you…

So, Where to next?


Godspeed Heroes!

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