10 Kettlebell Swing Variations to Take Your Workout to the Next Level

Brett Williams, NASM, Emily Shiffer
·3 mins read
Photo credit: Eric Leija - YouTube
Photo credit: Eric Leija - YouTube

From Men's Health

Trainer Eric Leija (a.k.a. Primal Swoledier) is all about utilizing kettlebells to enhance your workouts. Leija specializes in crafting challenging routines using the versatile fitness tools—along with his Men's Health Kettlehell workout program on All Out Studio, Leija has recently shared a grueling single kettlebell total-body session.

But there's more to kettlebell workouts than flows. Now, Leija is teaching some of his favorite kettlebell swing variations in a helpful YouTube clip.

Before you grab a bell and get swinging, you should know how to do the basic version of the move first. The kettlebell swing is a super-effective exercise that can help you to build size, strength, and hone explosive power through your posterior chain. Check out this helpful guide to learn the basics.

Variation 1: Kettlebell Two Hand Hike Swing

Rather than cycling through multiple reps of the exercise, you'll return the weight to the ground and reset between each. Make sure that you avoid rounding your back when you set the bell down.

Variation 2: Kettlebell Two Hand Swing

This is the standard version of the exercise. Follow the tips in the above guide and you'll be good to go.

Variation 3: Kettlebell One Hand Swing

Change your mechanics around a bit to use just one arm. Tip: move your non-working arm in tandem to stay balanced. You might have to lower the weight you're using to keep your mechanics on point—don't be afraid to go light.

Variation 4: Kettlebell Alternating Swing

Switch your grip at the high point of your single-arm swing. Again, prioritize your mechanics over weight here.

Variation 5: Kettlebell Staggered Stance Swing

Instead of a square stance, place one foot slightly in front of the other. Otherwise, your feet should be just as wide as in the standard single-arm swing, and your mechanics should stay consistent.

Variation 6: Kettlebell Alternating Staggered Stance Swing

Start at a staggered stance, then shift your feet as you switch your working arm on each swing. Think about the motion like this: swing up, step forward to neutral stance, let the weight fall back in the hole, step back to staggered stance.

Variation 7: Kettlebell Forward Traveling Swing

Perform a standard swing, then take two small steps forward as the weight reaches its peak. The steps should be short enough that you can maintain proper form throughout the movement.

Variation 8: Kettlebell Lateral Traveling Swing

Perform a standard swing, then take two small steps to the side as the weight reaches its peak. Again, the steps should be short enough that you can maintain proper form throughout the movement.

Variation 9: Kettlebell Chaos Traveling Swing

Mix up your steps here as you swing, moving forward, to laterally, and diagonally—but never backwards. Keep the steps small to keep your form solid.

Variation 10: Kettlebell Chest Loaded Swing

Keep it close to the chest with this variation—instead of extending your arms, hold the weight bell-in to your sternum and focus on the hip thrust of the movement. Exaggerate the squeeze of the glutes even more than the standard exercise here.

Photo credit: Men's Health
Photo credit: Men's Health


Want more kettlebell workouts from Leija? Check out his Kettlehell program on the Men's Health All Out Studio streaming platform.

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