How and Why to Correctly Swing a Kettlebell - Advanced Strength Training featuring Eric Kenyon & Evan Strong | Advanced Home Wellness



Today we are learning about strength training, specifically the Russian Kettle Bell System, with Eric Kenyon, owner and head teacher of Form is Function in grass Valley California.

And with Evan Strong who recently won a gold medal in adaptive border cross snowboard racing at the paralympic games in Sochi Russia, using this Russian kettle bell strength training system.

(Evan Strong: 2014 Paralympic Gold Medalist Sochi. Russia, In Para Snowboard Cross, 2012 World Champion, 2011 Winter X-Games Gold medalist, 12 Time World Cup Gold Medalist Para Snowboard Cross)

You may have seen kettlebells in gyms and wondered how to use them. you may have seen people doing what Crossfit calls “American” kettle bell swings, swinging the bell up and overhead.

You may have even seen people using kettle bells in incredibly creative and dangerous ways, such as this:


that guy is really lucky he didn’t hurt himself!



As with all weight training, it can be really easy to hurt yourself if don’t know what you are doing. Kettle bells were specifically designed for certain exercises and it is important not only for safety but also for effectiveness that they are used as designed.

One important thing to understand is that kettlebells are not tools for bulking up or bodybuilding so much as tools for creating functional strength and endurance. this means that kettle bells are great for athletes as well as regular people who want to be really strong in order to more effectively use their bodies.


Now there is a lot of debate around the correct way to swing a kettle bell, so I looked into why CrossFit says their American swings are superior to the original Russian as this seems to be a mighty boast considering the Russians invented the kettle bell.

CrossFit literature says they believe their kettle bell swing is superior because the arc of motion is larger and the heart rate increases a bit more, thus you are exerting more effort with this larger swing, making it a better exercise.

At first glance this seems to make some sense, at least that the CrossFit or American-style could be a more efficient cardiovascular workout.

But let’s examine this a little further. Is heart rate really the best gauge of strength building effectiveness? Are we are using weights as tools for cardiovascular exercise? Or are we using them to build muscle strength?

Sure it’s a mix of both, but mainly we are choosing to use weights in order to build strength. So why is heart rate the only metric CrossFit uses to measure effectiveness?

And furthermore we really have to ask, exactly what kind of strength is being built with these two different swings? This is one of the best questions that I heard from Eric Kenyon and I found it very enlightening on this topic…

“Are you building useful strength? What are you going to do with the strength that you’re building?”

These questions are so relevant because they highlights the real difference in the Russian versus CrossFit or American overhead swing.

The difference is that the forward lateral motion of the Russian swing develops core hip strength the way the hip is naturally designed to move and can move most powerful, that is HORIZONTALLY.

When the hip moves forward horizontally, this motion lends the lower body’s tremendous power to the upper body’s effort to also move horizontally. This is extremely useful for pretty much all sports and athletics, as well as for our daily lives.

This is an idea that Eric Kenyon understands very well, so Ill let him explain it as he and Evan give us a step by step of the number one exercise to correct poor posture:


Eric Kenyon:

“The deadlift is a hip hinge; it is a hip extension. This hip extension that is the correct deadlift, is the basis of all athletics, especially any athletics were force is going straight ahead. It’s the basis of all throwing. The first thing you do when you throw is, your hip extends and the rest of your body whips around. If you are going to strike, maybe it’s a fist, maybe it’s a tennis racket, the first thing that happens is, the hip extends and the rest of the body whips around. Jumping starts with a hip extension. Running is hip extension and hip flexion over and over and over again.

So as an athlete gets more powerful and more adept at this hip extension everything gets better that has a hip extension in it, or I should say a hip extension in the beginning of it, because that’s how almost all athletics starts: the hip move first, the rest of the body follows.

So Evan will you please demonstrate…and freeze right there.

So Evan’s hips are above his knees, they are below his shoulders.His hips are back, his lower leg is straight up and down.He has maximum access to his hip power at this point, and this is what we are teaching him.

His spine is safe because he’s in his neutral position with his lumbar curve.And these muscles are activated (glutes/lumbar spine)

And now Evan drives his hips forward.

So actually, we shouldn’t get distracted by the weight going up and down, that’s not where the force is.

“The force is in his hips going horizontally.”

Evan Strong:

“And what I’ve learned from practicing it for the last 3 & 1/2 years is, besides just becoming really really strong and powerful, its like THE #1 all encompassing corrective exercise for our modern lifestyle of being excellent sitters.

Like the glutes go offline, the hamstring go offline, then your hip flexors and psoas collapse and you have lower back pain. And your shoulders and your posture just begins to fall while you’re sitting in your chair all day.

While this (deadlift) is bringing everything back. Your glutes are firing, your hamstrings are firing, the back is firing, you stabilizer ligament in your back is making sure of where you’re going with a strong straight back…so this is like the best human anti-domestication exercise out there!”


So now Evan is going to share his preferred way of doing power swings, which is to use the first swing as a warm up.

Evan Strong:

The speed of the bell coming up off the floor from me starting it isn’t that much force. So I kind of like getting the bell moving and then second one you really get that bell moving… its so much better.


So hopefully you are seeing that the deadlift is a simple yet very powerful exercise, and that it is fundamentally a hip extension.

Hopefully you now understand that strengthening this hip extension -and its connection to our entire body- is really whole point of the kettlebell swing, as this is one of the most effective ways to maximize our useful core strength, as well as improve coordination between the lower and upper body.




Now lets look again at some good examples of Eric and Evan doing perfect kettle bell swings really illustrating the hip extension…this is what you want your swing to look like.

If your kettle bell swings don’t look like this, it is highly recommend that you find a trained RKC teacher who can teach you the original Russian techniques.

I hope this has been entertaining and educational for you, and I hope you’re inspired to learn more. You can check out additional videos on our site, see more demos, order kettle bells and find a certified RKC instructor near you.

I hope this has been entertaining and educational for you, and I hope you’re inspired to learn more. You can check out additional videos on our site, see more demos, order kettle bells and find a certified RKC instructor near you.

We have lots of videos on many health and wellness topics. Be sure to subscribe to the Advanced Home Wellness YouTube channel to stay up on all our latest videos.

A BIG THANK YOU to Eric and Evan for so graciously sharing their knowledge and insight, as well as all those at Aikido Ka Dojo and Form is Function in Grass Valley, CA!



About Kevin Asher

Kevin Asher Eyanu is a lifelong student and natural teacher with a very curious mind and caring heart. He loves to research, experiment and explore, and to share what he has discovered. He has worked as a teacher, massage therapist, landscaper, chef, organic farmer and coach, and he is a natural writer, producer and multi-disciplinary researcher. He has a B.A. in World Religions and an M.B.A. in Finance, and has various certifications and trainings such as Active Isolated Stretching, Shiatsu, Myofascial Release, Upledger Craniosacral Therapy, Qi Gong and more. He is a musician, snowboarder, surfer, yogi, martial artist and dancer who has travelled extensively in more than 20 countries, thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail & Camino De Santiago and trekked in the Himalayas and Pyrenees. He is a certified wellness coach and believes that a client-led, holistic approach is the most successful.

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