The Single Rep Dead Stop Swing, Clean, Snatch Workout

The Single Rep Dead Stop Swing, Clean, Snatch Workout

As I travel around teaching HKC and RKC’s, I notice a common problem (theme – challenge), the sloppy start/stop of a Kettlebell ballistic lift.

Imagine this scenario: someone is getting set up to swing; it doesn’t matter if it’s 2-handed, single arm or double.  They get over the Kettlebell, lift it up, and rock it back a couple of times between their legs and THEN swing it back far enough to load their hips and explode up.

What’s wrong with this picture?  The set-up was not correct, was not focused nor was it properly executed. There must be an intention and preparation before start of the pull – before anything happens.

I like to say in regards to all kettlebell lifts, “you’re only as good as your set-up”.

Here is the correct way to start a swing (clean or snatch):

  1. Place the kettlebell a foot or two in front of you.
  2. Bend forward and grab the kettlebell handle.
  3. Pull the kettlebell slightly toward you – engaging your lats.
  4. Set you weight way back on your heels, while keeping your feet planted & spine neutral.
  5. “Hike” the kettlebell back behind you – fast.
  6. Explode your hips forward and feet down into the ground let your arms be propelled forward by the force of the hips.

That’s it.

Simple, no lifting the kettlbell up and rocking the bell a couple of times before hiking it back and exploding up.  One crisp explosive hike pass and forward movement is all it takes!

This is the same for ALL the kettlebell dynamic lifts; including double kettlebell swings and cleans.

Scenario #2: they have just finished a great set of swings and on the last rep they fall forward, rounding their back and dropping the bell down in front of them, nearly toppling forward.

No explanation needed here, it is simply dangerous. The most common time for an injury to occur during any kettlebell exercise is on the last rep or when the kettlebell is being set down.

In both cases, whether it’s the first rep or the last rep of a set, the lack of focus, intention and safety is to blame.

The answer to this problem is in training your single-rep or dead-stop swings.  In essence that is what the single-rep is: the start and end of a swing, clean or snatch.

Programming single-rep sets is an easy way to reinforce good technique throughout a set of any ballistic lift.

There truth is, they are HARDER than continuous reps.

You lose the assistance of gravity during the backswing.  With single-rep workouts, each rep is initiated by the power of the lifter. The hips and lats have to work that much harder to generate the force to project the kettlbell up.  Hence, an additional bonus is increased force production and explosive power.  So this type of training is perfect for any athlete.

You can also modify single-rep workouts to any level of kettlebell lifter.

Single-rep 2-handed swings are a progression to learning continuous swings, but for the advanced lifter, doing single rep heavy cleans or snatches or double swings and cleans, puts the burn in your butt!

Here are some workout examples (note: “SR” stands for Single Rep):

SR-Swings – 2-handed X 5
Continuous  – 2-handed X 10
Repeat as long as you wish
OR Timed sets for 25-30 seconds of work to equal rest


Intermediate: (proficient with cleans and snatches)
SR-Swings 1-arm   5-10 left/right
Continuous 1 –arm 10 left/right
SR- Cleans 1-arm   5 -10 left/right
Continuous 1-arm   10 left/right
Repeat as long as desired or timed sets


2nd workout
SR-Swings 1-arm   5-10 left/right
SR- Cleans 1-arm   5 -10 left/right
SR-Snatch 1-arm   5/10 left/right
Repeat as long as desired or timed sets


SR-double swings X 5-10
SR-double cleans X 5-10
Repeat as desired or timed sets

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