Force profile of the two-handed hardstyle kettlebell swing performed by an RKC-certified instructor

Neil Meigh*, Wayne A Hing, Ben Schram, Justin Keogh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Other contributionDiscipline Preprint RepositoryResearch


The effects of hardstyle kettlebell training are increasingly cited in strength and conditioning research, yet reference data from a proficient swing is scarce. The aim of this exploratory study was to investigate the force profile of a two-handed hardstyle swing performed by a Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) instructor.

The subject is a 44-year-old male, body mass 75.6 kg, height 173.5 cm, with six years of regular hardstyle training experience. Two-handed hardstyle swings were performed with a series of incremental mass kettlebells (8-68 kg). Ground reaction force (GRFs) was obtained from a floor-mounted force platform. Force-time curves (FTCs), peak force, forward force, rate of force development (RFD) and swing cadence were investigated.

Data revealed the FTC of a proficient swing is highly consistent and dominated by a single force peak (mean SD = 47 N), with a profile that remained largely unchanged to 24 kg. Pearson correlation analysis revealed a very strong positive correlation in peak force with kettlebell mass (r = 0.95), which increased disproportionately from the lightest to heaviest kettlebells; net peak force increased from 8.36 ± 0.75 (0.85 × BW) to 12.82 ± 0.39 (1.3× BW). There was a strong negative correlation between RFD and kettlebell mass (r = 0.82) that decreased from 39.2 to 21.5 There was a very strong positive correlation in forward ground reaction force with kettlebell mass (r = 0.99), expressed as a ratio of vertical ground reaction, that increased from 0.092 (9.2%) to 0.205 (20.5%). Swing cadence exceeded 40 swings per minute (SPM) with all kettlebells.

Our findings challenge some of the popular beliefs of the hardstyle kettlebell swing. Consistent with hardstyle practice, and previous kinematic analysis of expert and novice, force-time curves show a characteristic single large force peak, differentiating passive from active shoulder flexion. Ground reaction force did not increase proportionate to kettlebell mass, with a magnitude of forward force smaller than described in practice. These results could be useful for coaches and trainers wanting to improve athletic performance, and healthcare providers using the kettlebell swing for therapeutic purposes. Findings from this study were used to inform the BELL Trial, a pragmatic controlled trial of kettlebell training with older adults. ACTRN12619001177145.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
Publication statusSubmitted - 2 Nov 2021

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