The Great Debate: Which Way Do You Swing?

July 26, 2021
4 minute read

Written by Travis Mattern from Fitness Education Online

Which way do you swing? That’s an important question right? But it is maybe not quite the question you think it is, because I’m talking about the kettlebell swing. Get your mind out of the gutter, what were you thinking?

If you’ve been around gyms, CrossFit boxes, bootcamps and fitpros on the gram you’ll see people doing the kettlebell swing. What you’ll notice is that there are a couple of key ways to complete the swing; the Russian Swing or the American Swing. Seems pretty straight forward by the name, where each originated. But, kettlebells have been used by the Russian Special Forces, Strongmen and Athletes since at least the 1700s! Whereas, kettlebells hit popularity in North America in the 90’s thanks to the great Pavel Tsatsouline.

So what’s the difference?

In a nutshell, the big difference is how high you will be swinging the kettlebell. The Russian Kettlebell swing will stop at about chest height, whereas the American Swing will stop with the arms locked out overhead.

So what are two different options? Well, let’s first understand the purpose of the kettlebell swing. There are many different reasons someone might be adding swings to their workout routine, these might include:

  • Conditioning
  • Developing explosive power from the hips
  • Muscle recruitment of the core and posterior chain
  • Balance
  • Posture

As you can see, there are plenty of good reasons to complete a kettlebell swing. So, the next question is, what are the reasons to complete the American Kettlebell swing?

  • Greater range of motion (ROM)
  • Better standard of where the movement is complete
  • Greater ROM = harder work

Realistically, that’s the best I could come up with and each of these reasons are essentially derived from CrossFit. The general CrossFit theory is that a Russian Swing is considered a ‘half rep’, why not complete it overhead? If you increase ROM we’re working harder and finally, the finish point of arms overhead by the ears is a nice standard to count reps. This theory however falls apart, because if you never do ‘partial’ repetitions deadlifting would be obsolete because you should only ever be cleaning.

So, if you’re not a cross fitter, should you be doing the American Swing?

No and here’s why:

  • For a lot of people (me included), we’re just not mobile enough to complete the movement safely. For me to be able to hold my hands essentially together and put them overhead beside my ears, without compensating somewhere down the chain, it is (currently) near impossible for me (I say currently, because I hope one day I’ll be able to improve my mobility to be able to do it). But, I know I’m not alone with this restriction. Then, add in a 16kg weight, it just isn’t worth it (I’ll give some alternatives later).
  • It takes it away from what it is supposed to be, an explosive hip hinge movement and makes people bring into play their shoulders more to ‘pull’ the bell up overhead. Again, doing this with an 8kg bell may not be an issue for many people, but try it with a 32kg bell (or don’t).
  • Essentially, to do the movement correctly you’ll have to use a light weight, which will challenge the shoulders, but not the big muscle groups of the hips, glutes and hamstrings.

So, if you’re not American Swinging what can you do instead? Well to me, there are essentially two much better alternatives to swinging the bell overhead.

  • The first would be to do heavier Russian Swings. Remember the general goal of the swing is to develop power, what better way to do this than being able to move more weight explosively. For me, one of the best cues to help someone become more explosive and powerful is by giving them a much heavier bell (provided their technique is sound), because there is NO way they can rely on their arms to swing the bell.
  • The second exercise is the kettlebell snatch. This serves the purpose of completing a swing to fully overhead, but with a much lower risk of injury. Part of the reason for this is that it is a single arm movement. This allows for your body to move and rotate as both hands aren’t locking in together holding the bell. For novices the snatch is a pretty complicated and scary movement, which can be uncomfortable if you’ve not learnt how to complete it correctly. My advice is practice the single arm swing and single arm high pull to help pattern the snatch. Then study, get a coach, reach a book, do a course, or all of them to break down and learn the movement.

So to sign off, which way do you swing and why? Are you a CrossFit competitor or have you just been taught by someone who has learnt kettlebells through that environment.

Thank you for checking out  Fitness Education Online Blog!

Blue Side BG

Fitness Education Online are one of the leading providers in the world when it comes to the professional development of Personal Trainers. We have over 30 registered AUSactive CEC courses.  Click here to check them out!

 

About The Author: Travis Mattern
Co-founder and Director at Fitness Education Online

Travis is the co founder and director at Fitness Education Online. Fitness Education Online are one of the leading organisations in the world when it comes to providing CEC courses for Personal Trainers. Check out their website below to see their range of Fitness Australia registered courses.

Follow & Connect

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Post
What is a Group Fitness Instructor?
How to become a Personal Trainer in Australia (2024)
What is a Group Exercise Leader?
Do I Need an ABN as a Personal Trainer?
Can I Deliver Outdoor Fitness with Certificate III in Australia?
How to Become a Group Fitness Instructor in Australia
Does an Exercise Science Degree Qualify you as a Personal Trainer in Australia
Best Personal Trainer Insurance Options in Australia (2024 Version)
5 ways to support weight loss and maintain muscle mass
What is SIS30321? Exploring the New Standard in Fitness Certification
What is a Gym Instructor?
How much does a Personal Trainer earn in Australia?
How difficult is a Personal Trainer Course?
Everything Cortisol
Everything Oestrogen: Essential Knowledge for Fitness Professionals
Supporting Clients with Endometriosis: Insights and Strategies for Fitness Professionals
The Fitness Pro's Guide to Embracing Period Dysfunction: Why It's a Game Changer
The Hidden Key to Optimising Your Client's Fitness: Tracking the Menstrual Cycle
The PCOS Advantage: A Game-Changing Guide for Fitness
What is the difference between Cert 3 and 4 in Fitness
Osteoporosis: How Diet, Exercise And Lifestyle Can Help Fight Osteoporosis
ANZAC Day Workout
Do you need a Cert III in Fitness before a Cert IV?
How Much Do Personal Trainers Make
How to become a Personal Trainer in Australia
Fitness Registration Bodies in Australia
Fitness Expo 2023
Personal Trainer Cancellation Policy
Adult Exercise Pre Screening Tool
How long does a Cert 3 in Fitness take?
Boxing Bag Workout: The “10, 2, 2”
12 Days of Christmas Workout
Functional Training Circuit for Small Group Training and Bootcamp
Fitness Games for Bootcamp: The “1, 2, 3” Game
Boxing Partner Workout
Boxing Drills using a Resistance Band
Boxing Workout for Bootcamp – “The EMOM”
Is exercise alone enough to lose a significant amount of weight without changing other lifestyle factors?
Boxing Workout for Bootcamp: The “Power / Speed” Drill
Personal Trainer Success Story: Karla on Online learning
Personal Trainer Success Story: Terry “Go for it regardless of your age"
Boxing Drills for Bootcamp: The “4 Combo’s: 4 uppercuts”
Personal Trainer Success Story: Jane Juggling a career and family life
Kickboxing Drills for Bootcamp: “3 Body Rips, 3 Roundhouse Kicks”
Boxing Circuit Workout Ideas: The Agility Ladder Interval Drill
Kickboxing for Bootcamp and Group Fitness: Should I use “Thai Pads” or a “Kick Shield”
Bariatrics 101
What Does Cert 3 In Fitness Allow You To Do ?
How to raise your rates as Personal Trainer
Mastering your day to maximize your efficiency as a Rent Based PT in 2022
Supporting the Bigger Client
Boxing Workout for Bootcamp 15, 30, 45, 60
Boxing Workout Ideas for Bootcamp: “The 2-10’s”
How To Structure a Boxing Workout for Bootcamp
“Exercise Considerations for the Bigger Client”… Health and fitness at any size
Should Women Stop Lifting Heavy Weights During Menopause?
Boxing Circuit Workout Ideas: The “Punch, Run, Bodyweight”
Boxing Courses for Personal Trainers: Should you do one?
How to Become a Highly Profitable Rent based Personal Trainer in 2022!
One Arm Kettlebell Row: 5 of The Best Variations Available
To weigh or not to weigh? Should Trainers Ditch The Scales Once and For All?
5 Questions every Fitness Professional should be asking their female clients... (especially when aged 37+)
How to Run a 30-Day Plank Challenge… Sub30 Style!
How to Help Female Clients Work With Their Hormones
10 Steps To Launch Your Fitness Coaching Business Online
Ep 322: Matt from Virtfit - the #1 fitness software/app for PTs
1 2 3 229

Want to hear about our latest post, podcast, and bootcamp idea?

Copyright 2022 Fitness Education Online All Rights Reserved
|
Google Rating
5.0
Based on 311 reviews
js_loader