There are many videos online that demonstrate the kettlebell swing. If you’re like me, you’ve probably watched several of them to observe proper technique. The majority I’ve come across, that are performed by certified instructors, show the hip swing variation. However, there were a few that didn’t look quite right to me, almost unnatural.
In these particular videos, I noticed that a squatting motion was done each time the bell descended from the swing. There was usually no mention of this squatting style swing being different from the norm. These demonstrators pretty much explained it as this is the kettlebell swing. Since the demonstrations were typically from lesser-known trainers, I always believed the more prominent and elite trainers’ method of the hip swing was the only and correct variation. What I didn’t know is that, if done correctly, either style is perfectly acceptable.
A Closer Look at Squat Style vs. Hip Hinge Style
Honestly, I’m surprised that there isn’t more awareness between these two styles. Searching online only yielded a couple of videos that showed the difference in detail. The below video does a great job of showing the proper technique for both styles. As you’ll see, the instructor alternates between the two to highlight the differences and make them more apparent.
Although the squatting motion is subtle, it’s definitely noticeable when compared to the hip swing. This particular squat swing isn’t as exaggerated as some others that I’ve seen. The motion is fluid and natural, while other demonstrations almost look like a hindrance to the overall performance of the swing. See below!
A Bad Example of the Squat Swing
This video shows several kettlebell exercises performed by a fitness trainer in tandem with an anchor, Elicia Dover, for an ABC news affiliate. It’s clear that this trainer is taking it easy as evidenced by the extremely slow movement of each exercise. You’ll see basic exercises like the deadlift and row, but the very first one, the swing, is painful to watch the anchor re-enact.
I’m not even talking about the banter between the two. I’m sorry but it is just not believable when you claim to feel it in your muscles after 1 or 2 reps at a snail’s pace. What’s more egregious is the entire performance of Elicia’s swing. After a few of these swings, she asks the trainer if she is “doing it correctly”, to which he responds, “Yes ma’am”. In my opinion, this outright lie is a disservice to their viewers. If the base of the kettlebell is always pointed down during the swing, it is not correct! Where’s the momentum and power of the thrust?! Besides that, her swing is an extremely elliptical motion. At the lowest point of the swing, the kettlebell nearly touches the floor!
Insight From a Professional Kettlebell Instructor
Cavemaintraining’s Taco Fleur is a certified kettlebell teacher and author of the popular Kettlebell Workouts and Challenges 1.0 book. Reading his take on the squat style swing does a great job of explaining why it is an acceptable variation.
In his post, he emphasizes that the squat swing (provided it is done correctly), is perfectly fine but that the distinction between the two should be made clear. He also points out that any shoulder raising done in a swing pretty much makes that exercise no longer a kettlebell swing.
The last video comparison between the two styles shows Taco’s movements in super slow motion. He even goes so far as to draw lines showing the angles and peaks of each swing. Although his squat swing also shows the kettlebell closer to the floor, it never comes as close as Elicia’s. Of course, the base of the kettlebell is always facing outward too! It’s a much more accurate, natural, and realistic demonstration of the squat swing.