The Strongman Swing: Part II

The “Original” One Hand Swing by Mark Berry

(Editor’s Note: I would like to extend a special thank you to Matt who e-mailed me a copy of Mark Berry’s original exercise description taken from the 1936 The Mark Berry Bar Bell Courses.  If you are ever find yourself without your kettlebell, this is a great dumbbell exercise.  Read carefully, Mr. Berry makes some very interesting points.  For more information on The Mark Berry Bar Bell Courses, check out


“A very pretty, although somewhat outmoded and seldom practiced lift is The One Hand Swing.   Properly executed, it makes a very neat feat to watch, and requires a certain amount of cleverness in respect to coordination and proper mastery of the necessary skill.  English lifters formerly specialized on it to a great extent and probably became the outstanding exponents throughout the world.  Very few Americans have paid attention to the lift.

Special paraphernalia is required for correct mastery – a short handle bar without inside collars (a sleeve fitted over a shout bar offering the best form of grip) so that the hand may rest against the front inside plate; a wide gauntlet should be warn for protection of the wrist; and, the bell should be loaded heavy on the rear end.  Experiment and experience will prove the best means of determining the exact adjustments that will be required.

High inside plates should be used, and the front inside plate is to rest against the forearm as the swing is being performed.  The bell is loaded heavy on the rear end so as to induce an inclination of the bell and consequent pressure against the gauntlet; the latter must be worn to protect the forearm and wrist from bruising.

Stand with the feet astride of the bell, the bar parallel with the feet, and the front plates about in line with the heels.  The left hand should rest on the left thigh, or knee, as an aid in the effort of giving impetus to the bell.  This starting position is not shown on the chart but it is very similar to the position of illustration Swing B.

Now, calling upon all the force at your command, straighten up and pull the bell to the position shown by illustration Swing A; the higher you pull the bell, the more impetus it should have, so straighten up to the limit.

Then, without pause, let the bell drop back to the position depicted by illustration Swing B; heave with everything you have and again straighten up.

This time, as the bell rises, you are to drop beneath it, as in illustration Swing C; and either through further lowering of the body, splitting of the feet, or both – maneuver into the position as shown in illustration Swing D.

Here is a pointer of importance; although the theory of the One Hand Swing is that the lifting arm should be kept straight throughout the movement, the English lifters popularized the practice of permitting a quick and snappy bend of the arm, much in the manner of a snatch; this overcomes much of the leverage and makes it possible to handle a greater poundage.

For efficiency sake, be certain to keep the arm straight until this final point is reached.”

Train Hard. Stay Safe.

Jeff Martone, RKC Sr.
Tactical Athlete Training Systems