Swing Theory

 Swing Theory

“The mistake most trainees make is they try to move too quickly to complex movements before getting the form down. But greatness resides in those who have the patience to master the patterns first, then add complexity later.”
~Dan John

We talk about the Swings, and we routinely practice the Swings. As far as Kettlebells go, the Swing is the most fundamental movement we have. Swing theory tells us that once we have it down, we can move on to the more complex movements of Cleans and maybe even Snatches. Still, even once we’ve “moved on” to these more complex movements, why do we continue to do & practice Swings?

One danger in doing any one movement or action too many times is the potential for complacency. Our ego tells us that we’ve got this, and our body loses interest . . . and in our movements it shows. Think of complacency as a mutiny against good form & technique. The reason we train the Swing long after we’ve got this is to put down & squash the mutiny.

Continuing to train a movement we believe ourselves to have mastered is a crucial step in mental fortitude & toughness. Anyone can pick up a weight and put it down. Real training comes from being able to harness and focus our mind on whatever task we engage . . . even if it is something as “basic” as a Swing we’ve done thousands of times.

Our bodies do not always move & respond in the same way. How does your body feel after an hour walk or hike? How does it feel after sitting at a desk under fluorescent lights for 8-10 hours? How well do you move when you’ve exercised regularly for the past few weeks? How different does it feel to come off a week-long illness?

Different factors impact our ability to move, some positively, some negatively. Having performed a movement flawlessly in the past does not mean that we perform that same movement perfectly every time we do it. Having done it correctly before means that we can do it correctly again, not necessarily that we will. At best, history tells us what we’ve done before, and gives us an outline of what we’re capable of doing again. History never guarantees present or future success.

Always be mindful in your movements. If you’ve done something well in the past, try to recreate that feeling and those thoughts in the present moment. Kettlebell Swings may seem basic, but basic should never be confused as easy, and easy should never lead to complacency. No matter what movement we practice or train, be mindful of where you are and how your body responds. This is how we train for results, and this is how our results lead us to success.

Sample Workout:

Every Minute on the Minute (frequently called EMOM Workouts) for 10 minutes, perform:

  • 10 Kettlebell Swings

This is an easy way to do 100 Swings without the monotony & potential complacency of performing 100 reps in a row. Depending on your experience level with the Kettlebells, 10 swings will take you anywhere from 15- 30 seconds, which leaves you 30-45 seconds to recover before the next round. During each set, focus on good body posture and mechanics all the way through the movement.

As a sample workout, this is just a template, and the template can be modified in any number of ways to suit your needs. One example would be to reduce the time to five minutes and the number of reps to 5. If you are a beginner, 5 consistent reps is a very good place to start, and a good number to make sure you are using good form all the way through the movement.

Another way to modify the template is to add reps per minute, either all at once, or gradually. Once you can easily do 10 reps on the minute for 10 minutes, work on 11 reps on the minute, 12 reps . . . or, do 11 reps on the first minute, 12 on the second, thirteen on the third, and so on.

No matter how you modify the workout to your needs, be mindfully present through all of your movements and through the duration of your workout.

Move towards strength,


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