There are 2 basic kettlebell swings:

1) Russian Swing = swing to eye level
2) American Swing = swing it all the way overhead.

If you’re new to Crossfit and are just doing kettlebell swings for the first time, we’ll generally start you out with the Russian Swing, and then bump you up to the American Swing once you’ve displayed proficiency with the movement. Unless stated otherwise, the prescribed(RX) version used in the Workout of the Day(WOD) is the American Swing: all the way overhead with your head with your head clearly “through the window.” Why does Crossfit recommend the American swing over the Russian swing? In a nutshell, the Russian Swing would need to be performed with loads nearly twice that of the American Swing to exact similar power and intensity demands.

While the American Swing has an advantage over the Russian KBS in building work capacity, it’s a lot easier to do incorrectly. Here are are some common faults:

Fault #1) Snatching it up. You may have seen CrossFit athletes use the snatch version of the 2-handed swing during regionals and often during training. As an athlete whose sole purpose is to get more work done quicker, the snatch version does offer an advantage in competition. However, it does not deliver the same training stimulus as the regular swing. By snatching it up, you miss out on a lot of posterior chain development, which is a large part of why we do the swings in the first place. You’ll see more benefit from the regular swing than by snatching it up.

Fault #2) Bending your arms and/or breaking at the wrists so that the kettlebell drops down at an angle and does not extend from the arms in a straight, continuous line.
Keep your arms straight. If you can’t keep them straight, drop down to a lower weight.

Fault #3) Midline broken at the top.At the top of the kettlebell your body should be in a good position, often refered to it as the “hollow” position. Do not arch your back, but instead squeeze your belly to your spine, keeping your midline active and strong. It is common to see a “broken” position with the ribs flared out at the top and back arched, as the kettlebell comes overhead. This puts a lot of strain on the lower back and is not a smart way to train. If you see someone arching his back at the top of a kettlebell swing, do them a favor and yell “BROKEN”!

Fault #4) Arms not locked out at the top.This is often fixed by not snatching the weight up (your arms will be straight the entire time if you do the kettlebell swing correctly). Make sure your arms are completely locked out at the top of the swing. Don’t let yourself get away with sloppy bent-arm kettlebell swings at the top of the movement.

Fault #5) Kettlebell not vertical at the top.Standards for the 2012 Crossfit At the CrossFit Regionals, the kettlebell had to be perfectly vertical at the top so that the bottom of the kettlebell was straight up over the athletes head. Make sure to finish with the bottom of the kettlebell facing directly up towards the roof.