Beyond the Swing: 12 Kettlebell Experts Share Their Favorite Exercise

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There’s not just the Swing. The Kettlebell is a versatile tool, and it would not do it justice to use it only for one exercise. So we have asked 12 Kettlebell experts to share their favorite exercise – besides the Swing. Here is the result.

Ryan Shanahan

ryanRyan Shanahan has been a fitness trainer for over 25 years and is the #1 selling Kettlebell instructor with over 2 million DVDs sold all over the world, translated in 5 different languages.

What’s your favorite Kettlebell exercise besides Swings?

The Kettlebell Irish Get Up a.k.a The Bottoms Up Half Get Up.

Why do you like it?

Because a single set of 5 to 8 focused reps per side is all that is needed to feel it. You will see results the next day.

What does it do for you?

EMG tests have shown that the Kettlebell Get Up has 100% peak activation of all core muscles including Rectus Abdominis, External Oblique, Internal Oblique and Erector Spinae. Plus my Irish version also engages your gluteal muscles, rotator cuff and deltoid. The Kettlebell community has praised the core-activating benefits of the Turkish Get Up for many years. It’s taken quite a while for some strength coaches to catch on but nowadays most coaches are having their athletes perform this exercise in their warm-ups. Good job, Kettlebellers!

Lisa Balash

lisa-balashLisa Balash is a Pilates and Kettlebell trainer in Las Vegas, NV since 2003. Certified in weight loss management and worked with NFL Quarterback, Tyler Palko to Sister Wives reality television star, Janelle Brown. Released two instructional DVDs, Kettlebell Bombshell Vol 1 and 2, reached #26 on Amazon’s top 100. Webside: www.kettlebellbombshell.com

What’s your favorite Kettlebell exercise besides Swings?

Clean and Jerk or Long Cycle as it is referred to in Kettlebell competition.The Jerk is explosive as you use the lower body to “bump” the weight from the hips which uses the leg muscles and the upper body stabilizes the weight in the under squat position and overhead in the lockout position.Jerk Broken DownThis exercise requires strength and stamina and it burns far more calories than any other exercise and it is also the exercise I teach all of my clients and especially ones who need to lose weight. Jerks are a safer way to press as there is less stress on the shoulders since momentum is used to get the weight overhead instead of isolating the shoulder muscles. Check the video below:

Why do you like it?

This exercise is the absolute best, because you are using every muscle group in your body.

  • The Clean incorporates the calves, hamstrings, glutes, lower back and biceps.
  • The Jerk requires power from the hips along with calves, quadriceps, chest, shoulders, upper back and triceps.

Del Wilson

DelDel enrolled himself on a FutureFit REPS (Register of Exercise Professionals) level 3 certified course. This culminated in a Personal trainer/advanced instructor certificate and a diploma in nutrition and weight management. webside: www.kettlebellnation.com

What’s your favorite Kettlebell exercise besides Swings?

Kettlebell Snatch. Once you have a confident and accomplished Swing, the Kettlebell Snatch is a great progression. It is one of the lifts used in Kettlebell competitions and certainly a favourite of mine. As Snatches are a single hand exercise, progress from two handed Swings to one handed Swings first.

Why do you like it?

Snatches are a very co-ordinated movement requiring speed, balance, strength, cardio and a solid technique.

What does it do for you?

More than any other Kettlebell exercise, Snatches have been responsible for improving my grip, explosiveness, strength endurance, cardio and enjoyment of Kettlebell training. With Snatches you just know when you’ve nailed your technique as they will flow beautifully. They take time to master, but once you do, your overall fitness will take a quantum leap forward.

Adrien Cotton


Adrien Cotton
Adrien started Fitness on the Run in 2004 to help people achieve a healthy lifestyle. She pushes her clients as hard as they are able and works to set an example for them with her own training and lifestyle. Adrien is certified in personal training and nutrition and is trained in Crossfit Level 1, Hard Style Kettlebells.

What’s your favorite Kettlebell exercise besides Swings?

Most Kettlebell exercises are superior to any other movement because of their ability to help us move better and more efficiently, strengthen our bodies and increase metabolic activity. My favorite is The Get Up. Before attempting to complete this movement on your own, get trained by a certified Kettlebell instructor. Although it is one of the best exercises, it can also be dangerous without proper instruction.

How to do

We will use the Kettlebell in the right hand.

  • Begin on the ground in a supine position.
  • Press the Kettlebell to a fully locked-out position holding the right arm at a perpendicular angle (while fully “screwing” your shoulder into its joint) to the body for the entirety of the movement.
  • Put the right side foot down flat at a 45 degree angle and place the left arm at a 45 degree angle from the body.
  • Hold your body in a perfectly tight “plank” position before slowly beginning to stand up by following the next positions.
  • Move to your left elbow first by pressing your right foot into the ground, hinging your hips and bracing your core and pressing your left elbow into the ground. Remember: this is not a crunch as a crunch will frustrate you and you will not complete the vital and the most important first part of the movement.
  • Next, move to a ‘Low sweep” where your left arm is locked out and your left knee is placed so you can form a 90 degree angle with your hips and right leg.
  • Sweep your lower legs and move yourself safely so you are in the half kneeling position with your right foot and left knee forming what we call “railroad tracks” ** The kettle bell is still in the pressed position above your head with a locked out elbow.
  • Push off with the right foot toes curled under and the right glute and stand up using your breathing technique to their fullest.
  • To begin the descent, step back into a reverse lunge and place your left knee lightly and gently on the floor.
  • Sweep your left lower leg so it forms a 90 degree angle just as it did when you were on the ascent portion.
  • Using proper breathing and your core, pull your left leg “through” between your left hand and your right knee and place your bottom on the ground (preferably where it was on the ascent portion.
  • Slowly allow your body to move downward by first stopping at the elbow and then back to the beginning position.

Check the video of the Get Up:

Why do you like it?

  • It is a huge challenge requiring strength, mobility and proper breathing technique.
  • When done correctly, you can continue to build your load. Keep adding weight that will only make you stronger.
  • It can give you a real heart pounding metabolic conditioning.

What does it do for you?

It is a grind movement. It requires great focus and concentration, strength and ability to use your core and breathing as a formidable weapon. If I miss a workout, I can warm up for 5-10 minutes and do The Get Up 1-1 (1 each side) for 10 minutes and I am toast.

April Doherty

April DohertyApril Doherty, SFG, FMS, is a StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor, ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor. Her website is at www.reshapewithape.com.

What’s your favorite Kettlebell exercise besides Swings?

My favorite Kettlebell move is a toss up between the Turkish Get Up and the Bent Press. Since I first touched a Kettlebell, I guess you could say I drank the “kool aid”. The Turkish Get Up is a slow grinding movement, one that you cannot rush. It is a great tool for Assessment and is always humbling when you increase the weight.

Why do you like it?

It shows mobility, stability, and it also shows what you may try to hide. The strength and movements behind the Turkish Get Up are simply incredible. The bent press is a close 2nd: it is one where I can really push the weight, and it just feels amazing when I get a crazy heavy bell overhead!

What does it do for you?

Kettlebells have changed my life because they helped me to find my inner Ape. Kettlebells have helped me gain confidence and strength, and now I can share that with all of my Reshape with Ape clients. Not only have they changed my life, but I’ve seen women grow incredibly inside and out simply from the pursuit of a Kettlebell.

 Andrey Patenko

Andrey PatenkoAndrey Patenko is a Certified Kettlebell Instructor. Former athlete with over 25 years of experience in personal and group training. Rated top 10 Kettlebell Instructors in the country by Dragon Door Publications. Former Professional Trainer of the Russian Central Police Department and served 2 years in the Soviet Special Forces. Certified Russian Systema Martial Art Instructor and awarded national and international competitions. Co-owner of Proform Fitness LLC, located at North Wales, PA, USA.
Websites:  www.russianKettlebellhouse.com and russiansystemacombat.com.

What’s your favorite Kettlebell exercise besides Swings?

One of my favorite Kettlebell exercise is the Kettlebell Combo.
Use two Kettlebells:

  • Put them on the ground, get into push-up position, preform one push-up, then jump forward and push the leg through hands to hold L position in air.
  • Get back to push-up position, jump up to squat position, clean kb to a shoulder position, squat down and preform push press over head.
  • Bring kb to the shoulder and to the ground making squat, then jump back to the push-up position.

Preform 10-12 rep. For advance training preform up to 5 pers on each movement.  I do 5 sets.

Why do you like it?

  • Great combo for the whole body.
  • Improves shoulder, and hip mobility, stability and resilience.
  • Gives great leg and back strength.

What does it do for you?

  • Great for body awareness.
  • Great cardio (if done over 20 min in a non-stop pace).
  • Builds great body strength with heavy load.

Marianne Kane

Marianne KaneMarianne Kane is s personal trainer (with Certificates in Extreme Kettlebell Training and Olympic Weight-Lifting). In 2013, she co-founded the website Get Glutes where she, Bret Contreras and Kellie Davis helped hundreds of women get strong and beautiful curves in all the right places. Find more information about Marianne and her workouts on http://www.myomytv.com.

What’s your favorite Kettlebell exercise besides Swings?

My favorite Kettlebell exercise is the Goblet squat. This is when you hold a single Kettlebell by the horns at chest height and squat, keeping your elbows in and your torso upright.

Why do you like it?

I love its simplicity and its carry-over to strengthen other movements. It is my go-to beginner exercise for clients as it helps encourage a good squatting pattern, since most newbies struggle to keep their torso upright. It is also great for more experienced trainees to improve or maintain mobility of the hips and ankles without loading a bar.

What does it do for you?

Because the load is held at the front, you use your whole body to stabilize with an emphasis on the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Another great thing about this variation of the squat is that it allows you to reach greater depth because it’s easier to keep the upper body in good alignment, compared to the front squat or other barbell squats.

Lauren Brooks

Lauren BrooksLauren Brooks is a fitness and nutrition coach, Her favorite workout tool is the Kettlebell. But she loves to use many other types of equipment as well. Fitness to her is only part of the puzzle to have a happy and healthy life.
Website: www.kbellqueen.blogspot.com

What’s your favorite Kettlebell exercise besides Swings?

My favorite Kettlebell exercise is the Turkish Get Up.

Why do you like it?

This exercise literally works your entire body from head to toe. This entire movement teaches you how to get off the ground under load while moving underneath a Kettlebell. The Kettlebell remains vertical, while being held in one arm, in space during each step of the exercise from the ground up and back to the floor. With proper precision this exercise strengthens deep within the entire stabilizers of the shoulder, lats, core and legs. In addition to this exercise offering an outstanding amount of strength and stability, this exercise also provides an incredible mobility component which opens up the hips like no other.

What does it do for you?

When I first attempted this exercise my body had a difficult time moving in one fluid movement. Even an 8lb Kettlebell was hard for me to move through. With some intelligent practice and allowing my body to get stronger in this beautiful movement, I’ve now been able to pass my goal of more than a 50% body weight Turkish Get Up using 53lbs and 63lb Kettlebells. Anything is possible with proper practice. I highly recommend everyone begin with the half get up when just learning this. Take your time and enjoy the amazing benefits. I now feel like a powerhouse with the strength I’ve developed, without the bulk women sometimes fear. I’m in better shape now since having two kids via C-section than prior to child bearing, thanks to the Turkish Get up!

Corey Wesley

Corey WesleyCorey Wesley holds a Master’s degree in Kinesiology, is a certified RKC & Agatsu Kettlebell instructor and is a full time strength Coach in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.

Website: www.Kettlebellscience.com

What’s your favorite Kettlebell exercise besides Swings?

The Kettlebell Cossack Squat is a go to as my favourite Kettlebell exercise.

Why do you like it?

The Cossack is a multi-planar movement that can be incorporated as a lower body warm up exercise, or as a max effort strength move that incorporates stability & mobility simultaneously. The external rotation of the extended leg develops hip mobility and lengthens the hamstring, while the support leg musculature extends and contracts developing strength similar to single leg squat variations.

What does it do for you?

This exercise permanently increases my flexibility and groves the motion for more maximum effort lower body exercises such as barbell squats when incorporated into a warm up routine.

Amanda Green

Amanda GreenAmanda Green holds a Master Personal Trainer Certification from ISSA which includes certifications in fitness nutrition, exercise/fitness therapy, senior fitness, youth fitness and strength and conditioning. She has long been a fan of the Kettlebell and hopes to someday open a comprehensive gym/fitness center with her husband, also an SFG Level 1.

What’s your favorite Kettlebell exercise besides Swings?

My favorite Kettlebell exercise besides the obvious foundation-forming swing is the Military Press.

Why do you like it?

The Press allowed me to break through the stereotype barrier that has been set for women. Presses don’t just strengthen your upper body. They also strengthen your back, hips, core and glutes through tension and stabilization. Presses have taught me where my weaknesses are in my upper body. I’ve learned to relax my neck while lifting and to breathe properly while performing the movements, as well as how to pack my shoulder to prevent injury.

Presses have made me strong, mentally and physically. I have worked my way from a single Kettlebell press with 18 lbs to 16 kg (roughly 35.2 lbs – almost double the weight) in about two years’ time.

What does it do for you?

It has developed my shoulders, biceps, triceps and back. It has taught me the importance of full-body tension and the power that tension, as a result of musculoskeletal stability, can give you while lifting. That tension has helped me to double-press weight that I didn’t think possible for someone my size.I also learned how to avoid injuring myself and how to spot incorrect technique in others. I learned how to press effectively…namely, how to generate power using my entire body, in order to press a very heavy object over my head multiple times. There is a certain amount of pride, achievement and independence I experience at the gym when I can double-press 14 kg Kettlebells of iron while the girl next to me is curling 3 lb hot pink dumbbells. I feel liberated!

Thierry Sanchez

Thierry Sanchez

Thierry Sanchez is a physical trainer, athlete and president for Kettlebell Sport in Denmark. In 2009 he wrote a manual about Kettlebell Sport methods that is still widely referenced to in the kettlebell community. Find more about Thierry and online kettlebell coaching on http://kettlebell-fitness.dk.

What’s your favorite Kettlebell exercise besides Swings?

It’s really hard to pick a single favorite, but I enjoy renegade rows.

Why do you like it?

Because it’s simple but not easy. I am a big fan of any sort of upper body pulling movement and this one is challenging yet safe for most people’s shoulders.
Just make sure to use kettlebells that have a stable base  or use a step bench for support and do all reps on one side instead of alternating sides.

What does it do for you?

It strengthens the upper back, the whole mid-section, grip and upper arm, and gets you breathing hard. It also teaches body awareness, stabilization, coordination and alignment. You might discover discrepancies on one side of your body. It’s important to strive towards a balance between both sides.

You can decide to work on strength by training on its own, or put it in a circuit or even in a complex. It’s very versatile, fun and a great addition to your  repertoire.

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