This morning at the Club I noticed a man with a kettlebell doing a very powerful exercise called a swing. The swing (think swing in your backyard, as opposed to a squat) is the hallmark of kettlebellers everywhere, including me. I keep a 35# red kettlebell on my front porch and my warmup includes 50 swings before every run.
However, this morning, much to my great dismay, this man doing swings did an excellent demonstration of the AMERICAN swing. Perhaps you’ve seen someone utilizing this technique, whereby the kettlebell goes way up overhead.
I had my friend Zach demonstrate this technique.
He starts out okay, and loads his hips properly, but then up go his arms almost straight overhead as seen below:
Up, up, up….
That makes my stomach hurt! Worse than that, it can wreak havoc on shoulders. There have been studies done with force plates and the physics of the situation can damage shoulder joints badly.
The man who was doing the swing took a rest and came to have some water from the drinking fountain near me. I couldn’t resist, saying, “Albert, did you know that the style of swing you are doing is called an American swing, and the force plate studies say that the kettlebell at that height can wreck your shoulders!”
He reached over and rubbed the A-C joint, which is basically the tip of the shoulder, and said, “Hmn. I didn’t know that, and maybe that’s why my shoulder has been hurting!”
The fix is to keep your swing at the RUSSIAN level- that is, don’t break 90 degrees if someone is watching you from the side.
Here is Zach again demonstrating the proper RUSSIAN swing:
Great start and his hips are hinging and the focus of the load….
That kettlebell comes way back and his forearms are touching the insides of his thighs…
Boom! Snaps his hips forward using both glutes and hamstrings, driving thru the heels, weight on the big toes, with a snake breath to stabilize the core…
And STOPS at ninety degrees.
Go RUSSIAN with your swings, dear readers, please, for the good of your shoulders and my stomach!
Give me feedback on your preference in the comments below….but you’d better back it up with some research if you’re going to argue for the AMERICAN version!