18 Types Of 1 Arm Kettlebell Swings For You

One armed kettlebell swings are one of the most powerful full body exercises you can do. There are 3 reasons for this. 

First of all they strengthen every muscle from your feet to your neck and out to your fingers. 

Second, the one armed swing improves your fitness from every angle. Whether you want to build muscle, get stronger and more powerful, improve your cardio and become more mobile they’ll help you do so. 

Third, and the reason you’re reading this article is that there are more than a dozen ways to do 1 handed kettlebell swings. In this article I give you the top X. Each has its own benefits and trains your muscles differently. 

Let’s get to what you came here for, the list of the 18 types of one arm kettlebell swings. You’ve probably seen some of them. I guarantee there’s a few you haven’t. 

Once you read through it, choose 1 that you haven’t done before and add it to your workouts. Come back after months or so and swap it out for another until you’ve mastered every one. 

18 One Arm Kettlebell Swings Variations

1. Traditional One Arm Kettlebell Swing 

This is the first 1 arm swing I learned. If you haven’t done them before it’s a good one to learn since many other swings are variations on this one. 

If you can do a 2 handed kettlebell swing you’ll learn this one quickly. 

Here’s a few tips to get you started. I’ve also included a YouTube link so you can also see how to do them properly. 

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and  a kettlebell between your legs.
  • Bent over from your waist to just short of 90 degrees.  
  • Keep flat back, and knees slightly bent. Look straight ahead. 
  • Grip the kettlebell and tense your muscles to prepare them to do the swing.
  • Lift and swing the weight back between your legs.
  • Once it’s between your legs, reverse the movement of the kettlebell by straightening your knees and pushing with your glutes and hamstrings. 
  • Your shoulders, upper back, and arms are to be used mainly as stabilizers, keeping your arm extended and grip tight. 
  • Let gravity and your muscles return it to the starting position. Repeat for however many reps you want to do. 

2. One Armed Kettlebell Skier Swing. 

This exercise is named because of its resemblance to the way you use ski poles to move yourself forward. Instead of planting a pole into the snow you’ll be swinging a single kettlebell with the same motion.  

There are a few things that make them different from the traditional one arm swing. The first thing is that you hold the kettlebell by your side, outside of one leg instead of between them. 

Another thing that makes these swings unlike the traditional style is you hold the ‘bell differently. Skier swings require you to hold it so the palm of your hand faces toward your body, not toward the floor.   

The swing itself is the same as a regular 1 arm swing.  Here’s a few tips and a YouTube video that’ll help you learn to do them safely. 

I use skier swings a lot in kettlebell HIIT and cardio workouts. Something about swinging the bell alongside your body instead of between the legs makes it easy to get into the groove to do the higher rep sets kettlebell cardio requires. You’ll also feel your core muscles working. They have to work to keep your upper body from twisting as you swing the weight up much more than other variations. 

You can do skier swings one arm at a time or alternate arms on each swing like you’ll do in the next exercise.   

3. 1 Arm Kettlebell Swings With Resistance

These swings are done the same way as traditional one arm kettlebell swings. The only difference is that you are also holding a kettlebell in your other hand. Holding onto a second kettlebell gives your muscles added resistance to work against when you’re doing a swing. 

The extra weight that’s added to these swings makes them great for building muscle and getting stronger. Especially in your glutes, core, and back. Your grip will get stronger too. I usually do them for 3-5 sets of 5-8 swings per arm.

You can alternate arms with every other rep or do all of your swings for the set one arm at a time. 

4. 1 Arm Lateral Kettlebell Swings

I just started doing these in the last year and boy, do I wish I had started sooner. Why? Because they force me to use my core strength to twist and swing the kettlebell laterally. 

I think we don’t do enough exercises where we’re rotating from the hips. Even though we do so all the time, from hitting a tennis ball to picking up and taking groceries from the car to your kitchen.

Lateral swings are also a great way to really strengthen your obliques since they get an added workout from start to finish.

Here are some tips to help you master lateral kettlebell swings. 

  • Start in the same position as when you’re doing a normal one handed swing 
  • Extend your knees and hips to swing the kettlebell up and get ready to twist
  • As the weight is beginning to swing, pivot on the balls of your feet and twist from the waist. 
  • Once it reaches shoulder height lower the swing by doing the exercise in reverse until its back to the starting position. 

You can do these swings doing all of your reps for one side of your body before switching to the other or alternate arms. 

5. Dead Stop Swing 1 Arm Kettlebell Swing

This is a good variation to do when you want to make regular 1 arm swings more challenging. Stopping and putting the kettlebell down after each swing requires you to set up and start fresh every rep. Without the momentum you get with regular swings you’re forced to work much harder. 

Here’s a few tips to help you learn dead stop swings. 

  • Start with a kettlebell between your legs and on the ground.  
  • Keep your back flat and eyes forward and grip the kettlebell.
  • While tensing up your muscles, pick up the kettlebell and swing it back between your legs.
  • Extend your knees and use your hamstrings and glutes to move the weight forward.
  • Let the kettlebell get to shoulder height then use your body to control the weight down.
  • When the kettlebell is between your legs, fight the urge to swing it back up.
  • Instead place the kettlebell on the ground where it was before your first swing. 
  • Repeat for however many dead stop swings you choose to do. 

6. Split Stance 1 Arm Kettlebell Swings

This variation has you put one foot in front of the other, as if you’re walking or setting up to do a lunge. By changing up the position of your feet you go from using both legs equally to swing the weight up to having one leg do the majority of the work. 

This is a great type of swing for you if you play pretty much any sport, especially those where you run and sprint or jump and kick off of one leg. They’re also great for improving your balance and coordination, something I know I need to improve. 

These swings are a little trickier to learn then regular 1 arm swings. Here are a few tips that will help you learn this variation quickly. I also recommend watching the video below.

  • Stand with one foot about a shoulder’s width distance in front of the other.
  • Pickup and hold a kettlebell between your legs so your palm faces backward.
  • Swing the kettlebell up by extending your legs and flexing your hips like you’re doing a hip thrust. 
  • You should feel that you’re using the forward leg more than the rear.
  • Slightly bend your knees and return the kettlebell to the starting position.
  • Repeat for however many reps you choose. 

7. Walking 1 Arm Kettlebell Swings

Think of these as a more challenging version of split stance swings. As you perform your swing, you’ll walk forward. Every step you take will include a step and a swing. 

Here’s a few tips to get you started.

  • Stand with 1 foot in front of the other, as if you’re walking.
  • Holding the kettlebell between your legs, swing the weight back.
  • Once it’s fully behind you, extend your knees and use your glutes to swing the weight forward.
  • As the kettlebell goes up, take a step forward. 
  • Your front foot should be hitting the ground at about the same time the kettlebell is shoulder height. 
  • Repeat for another swing, this time stepping forward with your other foot which should now be in front.
  • You can do them with the weight in the same hand or switch hands every step. 

Watch this video to see how walking swings are done. 

8. Side Shuffle Kettlebell Swing With 1 Arm

Great for mixing up your workouts and getting benefits you won’t from regular swings. One is that you’re moving your body laterally by stepping to the side as you swing. Like rotational exercises, we don’t do enough where we’re moving laterally either.

While they’re more advanced than other 1 arm swings, everyone should do them from time to time. If you play a sport where you’re moving laterally, i.e. tennis, basketball, soccer, etc., you should do them regularly.  

Here’s a few tips and a video to help you learn how to do 1 arm side shuffle kettlebell swings.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a kettlebell between your legs.
  • Bend from your waist, keeping your back flat and eyes forward until you can grab the kettlebell with one hand. 
  • With your arm extended and pick up the kettlebell.
  • Swing the kettlebell between your legs until it clears them.
  • Immediately reverse the movement by extending your knees and thrusting the kettlebell forward squeezing your glutes as forcefully as you can. 
  • As the weight swings up, take a shoulder width step to one side.
  • Lower the weight to the starting position as you’re finishing the step.
  • Repeat the process. You can continue with the same direction or alternate stepping to the left and right with every swing. 

Here’s a video that shows how to do them. 

9. Reverse Walking 1 Arm Kettlebell Swings

This variation is done just like walking swings. Just in the reverse direction. Make sure you do this one a few times a month, or more if you like. Doing a swing while walking in reverse is tricky and requires practice to get to where you can do them smoothly.

Walking backwards has lots of benefits alone. Adding swings to them turbocharges these benefits. 

Here’s a few tips to get you started.

  • Setup to do a 1 arm kettlebell swing. Waist bent, back flat, looking straight ahead.
  • Swing your kettlebell back until it’s behind you.
  • Then, straighten your legs and thrust your hips forward to swing the weight up.
  • As the kettlebell moves up to shoulder height take a step backward. 
  • Let the weight fall back down to the starting position.
  • Repeat the process for however many reps you want to do. Start with 2-3 until you get the movement perfected. 
  • You can do these swings stepping backward with the same foot for every swing or alternating which foot you use every other swing. 

10. Single Arm Kettlebell Swings With A Flip

This 1 arm swing will test your coordination and give you a strong grip. They’re a cool way to impress someone and show them how fun kettlebell workouts can be. 

Make sure you wear shoes when learning these. And be ready to quickly get out of the way when you drop or miss the kettlebell.

Use these tips and video below to learn how to do a perfect 1 arm kettlebell swing with a flip.

  • Setup as if you’re going to do a 1 arm kettlebell swing. See the tips in exercise #1 of this article for more information.
  • Swing the kettlebell up quickly by forcefully flexing your hips forward.
  • When the weight gets to about shoulder height quickly ‘flip’ it backward and let go.
  • Catch the kettlebell after it’s done a complete backward flip. 
  • Lower the kettlebell to the starting position and repeat. 

11. One Arm Kettlebell Swing with Squat

Here’s another swing that requires a bit of athleticism. You can even do these swings as a full body workout when you are pressed for time. Throw in a few sets of push ups or overhead head presses and you can train every muscle.

Do these the same way as traditional swings or 1 arm skier swings. The only difference is that you’ll do a full squat when the weight is returning down to its starting position.

Here’s a few tips and a video to get you started. 

  • Setup like you do a regular 1 arm swing.
  • Swing the weight up as quickly and explosively as you can.
  • As the kettlebell moves up, squat to parallel.
  • When the kettlebell reaches shoulder height, stand up.
  • Let the kettlebell fall to its original position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps. 

12. Kettlebell Swing with Lunge (Forward/Reverse)

Consider these an advanced version of walking swings. Master those first before you do either of these swings. I find these help my running, surfing, and BJJ performance a lot. 

I think it’s because you have to learn to control your body from going too far forward, over your toes to do a proper rep. Same as you do at times doing these and other sports. 

Follow these tips when you’re ready to give them a try.

  • Stand as if you’re going to do walking swings.
  • Swing the weight back and then flex your hips to lunge forward with either leg.
  • Your front foot should be hitting the ground as the kettlebell reaches shoulder height. 
  • Lunge until your thigh is parallel to the ground.
  • As the weight swings down, stand back up and return your front leg to its starting position. 

13.  1 Arm, 1 Leg Rack Support Single Kettlebell Swings

As you’ll see in the video below, this is a very unique type of swing. Unlike the others on this list you’ll be standing on one leg while holding onto a squat rack or something stable.

You then ‘swing’ the kettlebell up. You’ll see that you’re really forced to use your core muscles and legs to get the weight up. This is another great kettlebell swing for any athlete who has to run or step forward repeatedly as quickly and powerfully as possible. 

This video shows you exactly how to do this type of single arm swing.

14. Resistance Band 1 Arm Swing

When you have mastered the traditional 1 arm swing this one will help you get even more powerful and strong. It’s also a great way to make swings harder when you don’t have a heavier kettlebell. 

Attaching a resistance band to a kettlebell increases the resistance you’ll feel while swinging the weight up. 

Here are a few tips and a video to show you how this exercise is done.

  • Loop a resistance band around a kettlebell handle as done in the video below.
  • Stand on either side of the resistance band and set up as normal.
  • Perform the exercise the same way you do traditional 1 arm swing.
  • As you get stronger, use progressively heavier resistance bands. 

15. Hard Style 1 Arm Swing 

You’ll do these the same way you do traditional swings. But a little differently.

What makes these swings different from the other 1 arm swings you do is that you want to tense your muscles as much as you can throughout the swing. 

Why do this? It’ll help you generate more power throughout the swing which in turn helps you build more strength and power. Especially in your legs and core muscles. 

Follow these tips for maximal tension.

  • Get into the traditional 1 arm swing stance. 
  • After you’ve bent over, grip the kettlebell as hard as you can.
  • Make a fist with your free hand, tightening the muscles of your hands, arms, and shoulders.
  • Continue to tense your muscles by squeezing hard. Especially your legs and core.
  • Swing the weight back while keeping your muscles tight.
  • Flex your hips, thrusting forward using every bit of this tension. 
  • Keep your opposite hand tight and in a fist to stay tense throughout the swing.
  • Lower the weight and repeat, keeping your muscles tight. 

16. High Pull 1 Arm Swing

This swing incorporates 2 movements into 1. 

These tips and the video will show you how to do them properly. 

  1. Swing the weight up as you would doing a 1 arm swing.
  2. Once it reaches shoulder height, pull the kettlebell up and toward you. This is the high pull segment of the exercise. 
  3. Lower the kettlebell back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for as many reps as you like. 8-10 is always a good start. 

17. Alternating Single Arm Kettlebell Swings

This is a traditional 1 arm swing. The difference is that when the kettlebell reaches shoulder height you let it go, then catch it with your other hand. This is a great swing to do for improving your fitness and grip strength. 

Tips and video.

  • Do a traditional 1 arm kettlebell swing.
  • When the kettlebell is about shoulder high and feeling weightless, let it go.
  • Catch it with your other hand before it falls to the ground
  • Lower the kettlebell and repeat.
  • Alternate for 8-10 reps with each arm. 

18. 1 Arm Catch and Release Kettlebell Swings

Do these the same way you do alternating kettlebell swings. Instead of catching with the opposite hand you’ll quickly let go of the kettlebell and catch it again as it starts to fall. 

This is tougher for me than alternating swings. Give them a try and see which is tougher for you. Just watch your toes if you miss a catch. 

  • Do a traditional 1 arm kettlebell swing.
  • When the kettlebell is about shoulder high and feeling weightless, let it go.
  • Catch it with the same hand before it falls to the ground
  • Lower the kettlebell and repeat.
  • Alternate for 8-10 reps with each arm. 

How heavy of a kettlebell do I use for 1 arm swings?

You should use a weight that you can do the type of single arm swing you’re doing for 6-8 reps. As you get stronger and can do 3 or more sets of 10 swings per set, move up to a heavier kettlebell. If you don’t have one, use resistance bands or move on to a more challenging type of 1 arm swing that you can only do 6-8 swings with good technique. 

Conclusion

One-arm kettlebell swings are an effective and dynamic exercise for improving your coordination, strength, and endurance. Mastering them, and the 17 other types of swings on this list will build strength, muscle, endurance, and better coordination than any barbell, machine, or dumbbell exercise. Learn them all and you’ll have a lifetime of workout options to build and maintain your best body. 

Curt Pedersen
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