Single Arm Kettlebell Swing
The one arm kettlebell swing is often referred to as the single arm kettlebell swing or one handed kettlebell swing.
Swinging the kettlebell with one arm is a natural progression on from the two handed kettlebell swing. It is possible to perform a dumbbell one arm swing but it feels a lot more comfortable with a kettlebell due to the centre of gravity being below the handle.
If you have not mastered the two handed kettlebell swing then it is very important that you begin with this kettlebell exercise first.
OK, so you are comfortable with the two handed swing now lets look at the one arm kettlebell swing in a little more detail.
One Arm Kettlebell Swing Benefits
The one handed kettlebell swing has the same benefits as the two handed kettlebell swing except it has a few hidden extras.
Swinging the kettlebell with one arm rather than two puts extra demands on the shoulder and also attempts to pull the body into rotation.
Your shoulder stabilising muscles will have to work much harder in order to keep your shoulder in good position and prevent the arm from being pulled from its socket.
Your core muscles also have to work extra hard in order to balance the forces of the kettlebell trying to pull you into rotation.
The upper back muscles on the swinging arm will also need to be strong to maintain good scapular position.
The grip strength of the hand holding the kettlebell will also be challenged as the swinging forces try to take the kettlebell away and out of the hand.
The kettlebell will also feel more comfortable when swinging between the legs because there is more room because the other arm is not involvedAre You Ready.
A quick recap on the single arm kb swing benefits:
- Increases demands on the shoulder stabilising muscles
- Improves core anti rotational muscles
- Strengthens upper back scapular region on the swinging side
- Drastically improves grip strength
- Feels more comfortable passing down and in between the legs
The above benefits are on top of the regular swing benefits of increasing: cardio, full body strength, power, posture and being superb for fat loss.
One Arm Kettlebell Swing Muscles Used
There are not many muscles that the one arm kettlebell swing does not help activate and strengthen.
Here are the main muscles that are used with the single handed kettlebell swing:
- Hamstring Muscles
- Gluteus Muscles
- Quadriceps Muscles
- Abdominal Muscles
- Oblique Muscles
- Rhomboid Muscles
- Trapezius Muscles
- Deltoid Muscles
On top of all these main prime mover based muscles their are also hundreds of smaller stabilising muscles including the shoulder rotator cuff muscles.
One Handed Kettlebell Swing Technique
The fundamentals of swinging a kettlebell with one hand are exactly the same as the two handed kettlebell swing.
Many people actually find the single handed swing a little easier because there is more room to swing the bell in between the legs.
Also if you are guilty of muscling up the kettlebell with your shoulder muscles with two hands then the single handed kettlebell swing encourages you to use more of your hip drive to elevate the kettlebell.
To see more posts about hip hinge workouts, go here.
Watch a tutorial video of the 1 Arm Kettlebell Swing below:
One Arm Kettlebell Swings Progressions
It can be a big step to go from the two handed kettlebell swing to one handed kettlebell swing because effectively you are doubling the load on the shoulder.
As a simple guide to follow here is how I recommend you progress from two hands to one.
- Step 1: Practice until you can perform the two handed swing for 60 seconds
- Step 2: Start with just 10 repetitions (or 20 seconds) on each arm. Repeat for 3 rounds
- Step 3: Practice until you can complete 60 seconds on each arm
- Step 4: Increase the weight by 4kg’s and return back to Step 1.
Please ensure that you progress slowly following the steps above.
Kettlebell Hand to Hand Swing
The next progression on from the one arm kettlebell swing is the ability to change hands without having to put the kettlebell down in between repetitions.
Once you can swing from hand to hand it makes your kettlebell training flow much better enabling you to easily transition from one exercise to the next.
Watch a tuition video on the kettlebell hand to hand swing:
Single Arm Kettlebell Swing Workouts:
Practice makes perfect and there are lots of different kettlebell workouts for you to try:
Swing Workout 1
- Single Arm Kettlebell Swing – 10 reps each side
- Rest as much as needed
- Repeat 5 rounds
At the end of this is workout you will have completed a total of 100 kettlebell swings, 50 on each arm.
You can make the workouts even more challenging by trying to perform the 20 repetitions (10 on each side) every minute.
Set your interval timer to beep every 60 seconds and then perform your 20 total repetitions every 60 seconds.
You will complete all 100 swings in 5 minutes, a great achievement.
Swing Workout 2
- Single Arm kettlebell Swing Left – 30 secs
- Slingshot – 30 secs
- Single Arm kettlebell Swing Right – 30 secs
- Slingshot – 30 secs
- Repeat 3-6 rounds
Each one arm swing is broken up with the kettlebell slingshot which gives you time to get your breath back.
Using a gentle exercise like the kettlebell slingshot in between more cardio based exercises is called active recovery which means that rather than stopping you still keep your heart rate elevated.
Swing Workout 3
- Single Arm kettlebell Swing – 15 secs each side
- Rest 15 seconds
- Single Arm kettlebell Swing – 30 secs each side
- Rest 30 seconds
- Single Arm kettlebell Swing – 45 secs each side
- Rest 45 seconds
- One Arm Kettlebell Swing – 60 secs each side
With this single arm kettlebell swing workout we increase the repetitions at the same time as increasing the rest periods.
The harder you work the more rest you require.
Once you have mastered the two handed kettlebell swing then your next goal should be the one arm swing.
The one arm swing delivers the same benefits as the two handed kettlebell swing but with a few extras included.
Don’t rush into the single handed kettlebell swing use a sensible progression because you are fundamentally doubling the load on the one shoulder.
Using the kettlebell hand to hand swing will also be useful to improve the flow of your workouts.
I’ve also listed three kettlebell swing workouts for you to use to practice your one arm kettlebell swings.
Do you use the single arm kettlebell swing? Let me know your feedback below…
Kettlebell swings work most of the muscles in the body but in particular those of the posterior chain, namely the glutes, hamstrings, spinal erectors and core muscles.
The kettlebell swing is based on the deadlift movement pattern and requires a thrust of the hips in order to move the kettlebell dynamically. It is important that the lower back is kept stable via a strong contraction of the core muscles and a good hip hinge technique.