The Single Rep Dead Stop Swing, Clean, Snatch Workout

by Andrea Du Cane on July 1, 2015

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Master RKC Andrea Du Cane and Senior RKC Timothy Spencer Demonstrate the RKC Arm Bar

As I travel around teaching HKC and RKC workshops, 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 stand 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. It was not focused or properly executed. There must be an intention and preparation before the 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):

  • Place the kettlebell a foot or two in front of you.
  • Bend forward and grab the kettlebell handle.
  • Pull the kettlebell slightly toward you, while engaging your lats.
  • Set your weight way back on your heels, while keeping your feet planted & spine neutral.
  • “Hike” the kettlebell back behind you—fast.
  • 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 kettlebell up and rocking it 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: someone has just finished a great set of swings, but on the last rep they fall forward while rounding their back and then dropping the bell down in front of them.  They nearly topple forward.

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

In both cases—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 to 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.

The truth is, they are HARDER than continuous reps because 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 kettlebell 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 for any level 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 for 5 reps

Continuous:   2-handed for 10 reps

Repeat as long as you wish

OR use timed sets for 25-30 seconds of work to equal rest


Intermediate: (proficient with cleans and snatches)

SR-Swings 1-arm   5-10 reps left/right

Continuous 1-arm   10 reps left/right

SR- Cleans 1-arm   5-10 reps left/right

Continuous 1-arm   10 reps 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   5-10 reps

SR-double cleans   5-10 reps

Repeat as desired or timed sets


Andrea Du Cane is a Master RKC Kettlebell Instructor, CK-FMS, CICS, and RIST, ZHealth certified, she has a BA in Psychology from the University of Minnesota and is also a Pilates instructor. She is the author of several books and dvds including The Ageless Body, The Kettlebell Boomer, and The Kettlebell Goddess Workout She has over twenty years of aerobics, weight training and fitness experience, with an additional background in… Read more here.

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  • Peggie Larsen

    Rock on Andrea! ❤️

  • Andy

    This was a really helpful article. Because I live in a relatively isolated area of Northern New England and do not have access to an instructor, information like this is essential for preventing injury and gaining maximum benefit. Additionally, because I’ve reached my sixties, the potential for injury tends to be more serious than when I was younger. Just as with martial arts, it is crucial to be reminded of basic technique again and again. I especially liked the fact that the video used multiple reps and several angles demonstrating each move. Thanks again.

    • Andrea Jackson DuCane

      Andy, you are very wise in paying attention to correct form and technique. It is hard to learn the nuances from videos or books. I do recommend visiting an RKC for a technique check sometime.
      This workout will make you pay attention to the initiating the movement from the hips. It will encourage safety at the start and end of each set. Best wishes.

  • I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!!!!! Four workouts and a video! 🙂 THE BEST!!!!

  • Kettlebell King

    Excellent information!

  • Andrea, I always recommend the Dead Stop Swings to any of my students. Great piece!

  • We did dead-stop snatches and swings this morning in classes, so your points really hit home Andrea. When I am teaching people this, I compare it to the athletic start required in any sport — with muscles and mind on ready to fire with power and precision.

    • Yes, it does SO much for the body and the learning curve of the student, and yet it is easy to overlook. People like to gas out fast, and this just FEELS different. I like to call it “Mindful Power and Ballistics”.

  • I love start-stop swings as a way to mix things up…! I find for a lot of people (Total beginners to advanced) that start-stops not only tune up form, but they’re also a very simple way to keep the mix interesting. With new students, it’s difficult to find a good variety while the student builds their “tool kit” of exercises.

    A really fun mix is start-stop then crawl around to shake it out!

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