Kettlebell Swing Styles: A Quick Overview

by admin on January 13, 2010

If I do a Google search for ‘kettlebell swing’, I turn up with 923,000 results. A YouTube search comes up with 1,330. There’s a lot of information out there about how to do a kettlebell swing -and truth be told, there’s more than one ‘right’ way to do the exercise. I’ll cover three swing ‘styles’ in this post, and how each different style can be appropriate for specific fitness goals.

The first style I’ll cover is the hardstyle, or RKC swing. This is the swing style we teach here at This style, put most simply, focuses on power production, not power conservation. It’s for increased fitness, not competition. Here’s what the hardstyle swing looks like:

In contrast to the hardstyle swing is the competition style swing. I’m by no means an expert on this style – but the basic premise is that this swing is designed for endurance and energy conservation – not for maximum power production or even fitness. As you can see in the video below, this technique is very different than the hardstyle swing.  If you’re planning on competing in kettlebell lifting, this is the way to go:

The final swing variation is the ‘American’ swing or the CrossFit swing. This is a kind of ‘bastardized’ swing version that goes overhead instead of shoulder level like the hardstyle swing. I think you can run into some problems with this style; it’s easy to let the core go soft and it’s a lot easier to screw up! However, it’s true that the ‘bell does go through a larger range of motion, which could in theory let you get more work done in less time – thus increasing your power production. Here’s what it looks like:

There are quite a few different versions of the kettlebell swing. The bottom line is that each version we’ve talked about here can be useful for different goals – there’s no one ‘right’ way. If you’re going for improved power production and general fitness like fat loss and muslce gain, do the hardstyle swing. If you’re going to do competative kettlebell lifting, practice the competition style. I’m not really a huge fan of the CrossFit style swing – but it could have its uses. It’s up to you to decide the best method for you and your goals. Good luck and keep training hard!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Polk January 13, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Thanks. I did not realize there were so many styles.


Sandy Sommer RKC January 13, 2010 at 5:42 pm


Nice post. I will continue to use hardstyle swings as the foundation of my training. Seems to work well for me and I love how it helps my clients too.


admin January 14, 2010 at 5:49 am

Thanks for the feedback guys … it’s interesting sometimes when you get a little perspective and realize that there’s more than one ‘right’ way to do things in the strength training world … seems like the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know!


Paul January 18, 2010 at 4:18 am

I am sorry but I believe you are wrong about the hardstyle swing, you can get any type of result you want with this hardstyle swing as it is proven, it all depends on your sets and reps. Just listen to Steve Cotter and even better Valery Federenko.


Theron Dominiguez February 12, 2011 at 11:28 am

Wow that was odd. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say wonderful blog!


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