For beginners overhead exercises can cause real problems because basic stabilization strength has not yet been developed. More advanced lifters can also have issues with overhead exercises due to a lack of shoulder mobility leading to compensations further down the kinetic chain.
As a dead lift based exercise that works predominately into the buttocks, hamstrings and core muscles I don’t see the benefit of jeopardizing the shoulders by lifting overhead. Most people nowadays due to more sedentary lifestyles suffer with mobility issues concerning the shoulders or thoracic spine.
When you swing a kettle bell overhead tight shoulders or a limited upper back will lead to a compensation of movement further down the body. Repeated overhead swings will continually arch and aggravate the lower back as you compensate for the lack of movement in the upper body.
For most of the people I coach I want to get in more reps in less time to promote cardio benefits, so the Overhead Kettle bell Swing is less efficient for this. As I mentioned above the AmericanKettlebell Swing requires a greater force production from the hips to drive the kettle bell overhead.
In order to power the kettle bell overhead you will need to use less weight than the conventional swing to avoid bad technique and compensations in movement. First beginners need to master the basic hip hinge movement, then how to isometrically hold the back flat during dynamic movement, and finally how to avoid overextension at the lower back all while coordinating timing with the arms and the kettle bell.
A lack of power from the hips will also see an excessive lower back extension and many participants will lean backwards just to get the kettle bell into the top position. Repeatedly swinging overhead with the hands together put the shoulders at risk, aggravates the lower back, reduces the amount of work and promotes bad form in beginners.
Repeatedly swinging overhead with the hands together puts the shoulders at risk, aggravates the lower back, reduces the amount of work and promotes bad form in beginners. Kettlebellswings were introduced to the US by Russian fitness expert Pavel Tsatsouline at the turn of the 21st Century.
Since their introduction, Russian kettle bells have become a familiar sight in many gyms and a popular choice for home workouts. They also come in a wide range of weights, which means that you can use them at any stage of your fitness journey and can benefit whether you’re an experienced or novice user.
The two-handed swing uses the hamstrings, glutes, quads, hips, core, back, trapezium, shoulders, and forearms. The intensity means that you will feel the burn after a decent set, and with a good 30-minute workout you will be sweating profusely, your heart will be pumping faster, and oxygenated blood will be coursing through your veins.
As long as you maintain good form, you don’t have to use a heavy bell, especially for cardio training. He also advises having two additional, heavier, bells for progression and for use in some other types of kettle bell exercise.
As the kettle bell descends from the swing, gravity ensures that the bell will feel a lot heavier, especially as you reach the end of your set. As with any exercise, but perhaps more so with a full-body kettle swing workout, good form is vital to ensure the best results.
When performing the swing, all your weight should be placed on the heel and middle of the foot and should never transfer to the toes. You should also keep your neck and head in alignment with your back so ensure that you are always looking ahead at the horizon while performing this movement.
The height you raise the kettle bell will be determined by the amount of power you can muster from your hip thrust. The number of reps and sets you need to perform depends on your fitness level, what you’re trying to achieve, and the weight you’re using.
The length and frequency of your kettle bell workouts depends on the intensity and difficulty of the session. Kettlebellswings are a full body workout, and whether you are training increasing strength or stamina, or even to lose weight, research suggests that shorter sessions are more effective.
They utilize virtually every muscle in the body, and they are effective for weight loss as well as explosive strength training. They also require very little equipment, and the intensity of the workout can be increased so that you continue to make the gains you’re looking for.
The biggest difference between the American and Russian Swing (AKA Conventional Kettle bell Swing) is the height the kettle bell ends at, explosiveness required and the involvement of the shoulders. There is also the fact that you simply shouldn’t do an American Swing with a very heavy weight.
Take the fact that everything else in CrossFit when it comes to barbell work is pretty much pulling, it’s quite easy for athletes to mistakenly apply that concept to the swing. This then all becomes a recipe for disaster and injury, especially with high reps and awkward overhead position.
The second thing is that one needs good shoulder and thoracic mobility before being able to put the kettle bell overhead with such a narrow grip, most people don’t have this, so why force the shoulders in such an awkward position they’re not ready for? You don’t straight away grab the barbell and do overhead squats with a narrow grip, do you?
No, you work up to that, and once you’re able to do it, it becomes a show of mobility —the ultimate overhead position! When it comes to programming, if you want to work the shoulders in a workout, then throw some Americanizing in, of course people will say “but there are better ways to work the shoulders”, this is true, but it’s not always about what’s better, we’d have some really boring programs if it was, and clients would get bored quite quickly.
I can also see the American Swing as progression to the KB snatch or regression for those injured. To be honest, I’m sick of the war between the American and Russian Swing, stop trying to make one look better than the other, they’re both good after proper education and within the right context.
Safety weight repetitions objectives audience experience “On first being introduced to the kettle bell swing our immediate response was, ‘Why not go overhead?’ Generally, we endeavor, somewhat reflexively, to lengthen the line of travel of any movement.
The second reason deals with some fundamentals of physics and exercise physiology. From physics, we know that the higher we lift something, and the more it weighs, the more ‘ work we are performing.
Work performed divided by the time to completion is equal to the average ‘power’ expressed in the effort. Could it be that CrossFit simply needed a movement standard, i.e. above the head is easier to judge than shoulder height?
I also don’t think the comment only referred to the American Swing but to general kettle bell exercises employed within CrossFit boxes. Footnote: if you’re really against the American Swing, a great alternative is the Kettle bell Snatch.
If you enjoyed this article, check out the following article which delves into the explanation of using the back to lift weight incorrectly, and how to explain to your students what lifting with the back is. I’m also heading up the Kettle bells in CrossFit Project, check it out, I will soon release an e-book which covers details on how to run a workshop for kettle bell swing and snatch efficiency in CrossFit.
“The kettle bell swing is an essential foundational movement that translates to just about every single activity a person does, from standing and walking to running and jumping. For the more advanced athlete, the swing develops power and explosiveness essential for speed, jumping, acceleration, and more,” says Matt Veil, head trainer at EverybodyFights in Lexington, Kentucky.
“Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced athlete, it’s a tremendous tool to use to enhance performance and overall ability.” It’s an explosive movement, and if you’re not giving all the power to your lower body and mastering the hip hinge correctly, you could be doing more harm than good.
Including hurting your lower back —a common injury that can occur from one too many incorrect swings. “Focusing on driving the movement from your hips will help maximize hamstring and glute utilization while minimizing reliance on the quads for knee extension.
The further away from your body the kettle bell travels during this phase, the longer the lever (you arm) will be, which bleeds power and increases the risk of you using your back instead of your extensor muscles. Keep your core engaged and braced, chin tucked, and spine straight.
Driving from the hamstrings and glutes, the next part of the movement is a powerful thrust forward into full hip extension. While the hamstrings, glutes, and hips are the engine of the kettle bell swing, the brakes are just as important.
Your core is what stops the movement at the top and prevents hyper extension of the lumbar spine. The kettle bell is a major multitask er, helping you to work on your cardio and strength while torching up to 20 calories a minute.
Plus, the tool’s unique shape, which allows for unbalanced weight distribution and a constantly shifting center of gravity, will help you “recruit more of the stabilization muscles that are responsible for supporting your core,” explains June Saint-Gerard, the creator of this workout and a certified personal trainer and a head coach at Tone House in New York City. Keeping chest up, push hips back, bend knees, and lower down into a squat (A).
Push into heels to rise back up to standing as you press kettle bell overhead (B). Hinge at the hip, bending forward so your torso is almost parallel to the floor; place right hand on top of step (A).
Bend left elbow, squeeze shoulder blade, and pull kettle bell up (B). Holding a kettle bell in both hands, stand with feet shoulder-width apart; bend knees slightly and hinge at hips, allowing the kettle bell to swing back between legs (A).
With weight in heels and core tight, squeeze glutes and lift hips up so that body is in a straight line from your head to your knees (A). Holding this position, press the kettle bell straight up (B); lower arm down while keeping hips lifted.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and a kettle bell in right hand, arm hanging in front of right thigh. Bend knees, hinge at hips (A), and in one swift movement, drive through your hips and pull the kettle bell straight up to shoulder height; the kettle bell should then swivel around your wrist like a corkscrew so that the ball is resting between your forearm and biceps (B).
Bend knees, hinge at hips, lower torso, and grab handle of kettle bell (A). Keep your gaze a few feet in front of you to maintain a neutral spine.
Push into ground with feet to stand up, driving hips forward and squeezing glutes to lift kettle bell (B). To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter