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The One-Hand Slap

May 14, 2008 02:12 PM

Swinging a kettlebell is a terrific, total-body workout. Do a couple hundred swings with a moderate weight and you will quickly discover that your forearms, shoulders, back, and legs are all involved in the exercise.

Exercising with kettlebells prepares the body for many other activities and sports. It is also a relatively safe training method. However, training with kettlebells IS NOT easy! And, I suggest that you DO NOT try to make it easy. Make it harder. This will make it safer as well.

Get your abs involved in the kettlebell swing to help protect your back. As the kettlebell athlete becomes fatigued there is a tendency to drive the hips forward and lean back slightly. This is because the signals from the brain instructing the body to tighten the glutes, hamstrings, and back muscles override all other instructions. This can also put stress on the lower back.

 Notice how she is leaning back.

The ideal kettlebell swing is accomplished by actively firing the hips forward into braced abs. There should be abdominal tension pulling the ribcage downward toward the pelvis as the kettlebell reaches chest high.

 Notice how her abs are engaged.

The ONE HAND SLAP is a technique that will
  1. get your abs involved in the kettlebell swing
  2. help protect your back
  3. make the kettlebell swing more difficult (and therefore make it an even more effective exercise).

Begin the exercise by swinging the kettlebell with one hand. Use the other hand to slap your soft underbelly just as the kettlebell reaches the apex of its swing. Tapping on these muscles causes an automatic tightening response. (You may strike your abs with more force if you are interested in hardening these muscles.)


Breathing becomes problematic when your abs are tight. You must learn to "breath behind the shield". Once you have mastered the ONE HAND SLAP, continue to try to duplicate this feeling during all of your kettlebell swing practice. You will be rewarded with reduced risk of injury to your lower back and a much more efficient workout.

Jay Armstrong is an RKC Team Leader. He holds a rank of 5th degree black belt from The World Tae Kwon Do Federation. Together with David Cogswell, RKC they founded The Kettlebell Club near Houston, Texas in 2005. The Kettlebell Club holds instructional workshops and offers daily group kettlebell workouts.

Contact Info:
Jay Armstrong
The Kettlebell Club
629 Hwy 3 South
League City, TX 77573