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. You will need a greater hip drive to propel the kettle bell overhead for the Americanizing but ultimately you will perform a lot less reps than with the regular swing.
As I mentioned above the AmericanKettlebellSwing 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.
The Americankettlebellswing requires an even greater hip drive than the regular swing often leading to an overuse of the arms due to a lack of power. 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. The initial part of the AmericanKettlebellSwing is the same as the conventional swing except the kettle bell is taken overhead rather than stopping at chest height.
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. The classic kettlebellswing, the Russian swing, is a fundamental exercise that every guy should do.
It’s an explosive and natural expression of hip extension, a key portion of your vertical leap and your sprinter’s stride, too. You stand grasping a kettle bell with both hands, core tight, toes pointed ever-so-slightly outward, knees slightly bent.
From there, you push your butt back slightly and hinge at the waist, letting momentum take the kettle bell behind your thighs. Momentum carries the kettle bell upwards and in front of you, and your arms drive forward, typically until they’re parallel to the ground, in the process.
The American swing is very much like the classic swing in its mechanics, except it has a different end goal: The kettle bell winds up overhead. In practice, the American swing frequently takes the emphasis off your mammies and glutes, and average gym-goers over-involve muscles that aren't meant for the job, such as the shoulders and lower back.
In general, you always want to choose exercises that minimize risk and maximize the benefits that’ll push you to your goals. You should evaluate all exercises this way (and not be afraid to question your group fitness trainer either -- it’s their job to answer you).
American swing fans have two key arguments that fail to account for the way the general population actually moves. It’s a demonstration of true shoulder flexion at the top of each rep, that your mid- and upper-back muscles will fire.
In this way, it’s a total body exercise, and superior and more “complete” than the Russian kettlebellswing. So that means, by default, they’re destined to perform the American swing incorrectly (and I've seen “fit” folks wreck this move, too).
Targeting muscles is important, even if “all-workouts-should-be-total-body” nation doesn't understand that, because it's a key method of correcting weaknesses in both your mechanics and your physique. Quick test: Lie with your belly on the ground, arms and legs long in front of you.
Driving the shoulders into true overhead position isn’t as natural as you may think. When forced to hit a true arms-directly-overhead position, many people compensate with movement in other areas, often arching their upper or (worse!)
The basic swing lets you move a fairly heavy weight, since it relies on two of your body’s most powerful muscle groups, the legs and glutes, to generate the majority of the force. If those muscle groups can’t power the bell to the dumb American standard, the shoulders and lower back do the brunt of the extra work -- except they’re not meant to move the same load as the glutes and mammies.
So the shoulder muscles and smaller upper-body stabilizers take over that large load. The American swing crowd might contend that this isn’t all that different from a snatch anyway, hamstrings and glutes firing.
Thing is, both the barbell and single-arm snatch versions let you drive weights overhead while rotating and spreading your shoulders more freely to create joint space for your rotator cuff tendons. They rely on high rep loads, and, eventually, fatigue piles on.
Station-to-station randomness makes things worse: if the American swing ’s your first move, your mind and your shoulder blades aren’t fatigued. You could go “lighter” on the weight with the American swing, both in a class setting and in your own workouts, focusing on form.
Except then, your hamstrings and glutes, the targets of the classic swing, simply don’t get to move as much weight. Unless you compete in CrossFit (where the American swing sometimes shows up in competition), the wildest part about the stupidity of the Americankettlebellswing is that there’s a much simpler way to achieve the super-aggressive hip extension and explosive glute contraction that it is supposed to bring.
There’s a smarter, less injury-inducing way to push your glutes and hamstrings to “pop” more than they do on your average Russian swing. Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is the fitness director of Men's Health and a certified trainer with more than 10 years of training experience.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. As compared to the Russian version, it engages your deltoid more and allows you to move the KB through a greater range of motion.
Start the movement by holding a kettle bell (weighing about 20-25 lbs) with both hands using an overhand grip just below your groin. Use a lighter weight to maintain shoulder stability and move the kettle bell through the entire range of motion.
The biggest difference between the American and Russian Swing (AKA Conventional KettlebellSwing) 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 Americanizing with a very heavy weight.
My opinion is that the Americanizing gets a bad rep within the kettle bell community because CrossFit athletes are not taught the conventional swing first, without this fundamental foundation it will promote the athlete to primarily use their shoulders to do a lot of pulling, rather than hip and leg drive to get the weight up with the swing, hence the reason it’s called American Swing. 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 American Swings 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 Americanizing 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. “On first being introduced to the kettlebellswing 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. For any given time period, the power would be equivalent only if the Russian swing rate was twice the American swing rate.” — Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit
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 Americanizing but to general kettle bell exercises employed within CrossFit boxes.
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 kettlebellswing and snatch efficiency in CrossFit.
The biggest difference between the American and Russian swing (AKA conventional kettlebellswing) is the height at which the kettle bell ends, the 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.
The American swing gets a bad rap within the kettle bell community because CrossFit athletes are not taught the conventional swing first. Without this foundation, it encourages the athlete to primarily use their shoulders to do a lot of pulling, rather than hip and leg drive to get the weight up with the swing, hence the reason it’s called American swing.
When you consider 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 becomes a recipe for disaster and injury, especially with high reps and an awkward overhead position.
The second problem is that one needs good shoulder and thoracic mobility before being able to put the kettle bell overhead with such a narrow grip, and most people don’t have this. Why force the shoulders into such an awkward position and a movement they are not ready for?
You don’t grab the barbell and do overhead squats with a narrow grip straight away, do you? When it comes to programming, if you want to work the shoulders, throw some American swings in.
Of course Greg Glassman would say, “Most of our guys can easily do an American swing with 32 kg,” and in fact, I’d be really surprised if by “most of our guys” he was referring to most of the guys from all boxes across the world, because that sounds really unlikely and very dangerous for most of ‘his guys.’ The American swing movement standard requires the kettle bell to balance upside down above the head, with arms locked out. Safety Weight Repetitions Objectives Audience Experience
“On first being introduced to the kettlebellswing, our immediate response was, ‘why not go overhead?’ Generally, we endeavor, somewhat reflexively, to lengthen the line of travel of any movement. Work performed divided by the time to completion is equal to the average ‘power’ expressed in the effort. Power is exactly identical to the exercise physiologist’s ‘intensity’.
So more work in less time, or more weight moved farther in less time, is largely a measure of an exercise’s potency. When we swing the kettle bell to overhead, the American swing, we nearly double the range of motion compared to the Russian swing, and thereby double the work done each stroke. For any given time period, the power would be equivalent only if the Russian swing rate was twice the American swing rate.” — Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit made a huge mistake by focusing on the American swing for years, which I believe has been causing unnecessary injuries* and inefficiency, not only in the swing, but also their kettle bell snatch, simply because the foundation for the snatch and American swing had not been laid properly.
I also think it’s a lot of bull to justify the American swing by saying it is more natural to complete the movement. I also don’t think the comment only referred to the American swing but to general kettle bell exercises employed within CrossFit boxes.
The American swing is such a controversial topic in kettle bell training that I wanted to devote some time to it, and I’ve hopefully given you enough information to make a sound decision, and the ability to reply appropriately if ever caught in the American vs Russian swing war. Scream of joy Do my own thing Walk out Don’t care either way
Therefore, make your own judgment on whether you see a lot of injuries due to this exercise. The fact that we are asking such questions is far more important because it means that, regardless of which answer you choose, the situation has gotten bad for everyone.
What will happen when the average kettle bell enthusiast finally realizes that his whole life, his house, children, car and even his dentist, is under threat? Things are not dark yet, but the world has apparently entered a sort of twilight state, limbo if you will.
In fact, some experts would argue that a new Cold War between the American and Russian Swing could very well be more hazardous than the first. “This Cold War, its epicenter on Russia’s borders; undertaken amid inflammatory American, Russian and Ukrainian media misinformation; and unfolding without the stabilizing practices that prevented disasters during the preceding Cold War, may be even more perilous.”
The power of the swing is generated from the hips while the spine is held perfectly stable and neutral. At the apex of the swing, the kettle bell is at chest level, and the athlete’s glutes are contracted, quads are engaged, the stomach is rock solid and braced for impact, and lats are actively pulling the shoulders away from the ears.
The Russian Swing is a great modality to teach athletes how to break at the abs, lats and glutes while using their bodies in a more efficient manner. If the goal of the kettlebellswing is to increase hip hinge power output, doesn’t it make sense to use the best weight to achieve the desired result?
If you were to superset that with an overhead shoulder mobility exercise aren’t you achieving the desired effect in the same time in a more efficient way? Patrick McCarty wrote a great article for Breaking Muscle about the benefits of the Russian Swing where he states:
The goal is not always simply to “do more work.” And you’ll never convince a powerlifter dead lifting 750lbs that he is only doing a “half rep.” If the workout is kettle bells and burpees and you choose to do Russian swings but turn up the heat on the burpees — by resting less, going a little faster, or wearing a vest — can you, in theory, do as much “work” while keeping the swings from causing an uncomfortable shoulder impingement overhead?
While the American version of the kettlebellswing moves the kettle bell through a greater range of motion, it places the shoulder joint, which is highly unstable, in a compromised position at the top portion of the swing. This somewhat obvious point is actually even greater than one might think because once the arms and kettle bell are moved beyond parallel with the ground, the athlete is at a disadvantage.
The other problem is that the time to complete the rep is much longer — which reduces the power output. Everyone doesn’t have access to heavy or multiple kettle bells and not all fitness enthusiasts want to train for explosive hip drive.
If you are a trainer or a client of a boot camp style training session, the Americanizing is an excellent way to increase your work capacity. If you only have access to a light kettle bell, bringing the swing all the way to the overhead position increases the amount of hip drive required to get the kettle bell overhead which, in turn, increases the work capacity of the exercise.
But, in the last decade or so, they’ve seen a resurgence in popularity, not least because they are a part of so many CrossFit workouts. But Tim Ferris says “the two armed kettlebellswing is the king and is all you need for dramatic body recomposition results”.
It takes time to master the kettlebellswing, but once you’ve got it nailed, this exercise has a wide range of benefits. Your heart rate will also soar when you swing a kettle bell, which makes kettle bell swings one of the best strength training exercises for fat loss and weight loss.
Tim Ferris's writes glowingly about the fantastic benefits of the kettlebellswing for rapid fat loss and body recomposition in his New York Times Best Seller The Four Hour Body.” Image Credit Tracy & Mark Ranking Many fitness enthusiasts believe that squats and dead lifts are the kings of exercise.
But Tim Ferris says, “the two armed kettlebellswing is the king and is all you need for dramatic body recomposition results.” Increased cardiovascular fitness Kettlebellswing training is excellent for your heart and lungs, as well as your muscles.
Because they are a full-body movement, kettle bell swings will drive your heart and breathing rate sky-high, which makes them a beneficial and challenging cardiovascular exercise. Kettle bell swings are fast and explosive, while dead lifts are much slower.
Better posture Kettle bell swings are one of the best exercises for undoing the effects of prolonged sitting. Swings work your posterior chain, which are the muscles responsible for holding you upright against the pull of gravity.
In many instances, this will also eliminate the back pain often caused by poor posture. Quadriceps — located on the front of your upper thighs, the quads as they are known, are responsible for knee extension.
Gluteus Maximus — known as the glutes for short, this is the most massive muscle in the human body and is responsible for hip extension. Core — the muscles that make up your midsection, which is responsible for keeping your spine stable.
Latissimus Doris — the side/upper back muscles, the lats are responsible for shoulder extension. Forearm flexors — the muscles in your lower arms that are responsible for keeping a firm grip on the kettle bell.
Because kettle bell swings involve so many muscles and joints working together and at the same time, there’s a lot that can go wrong with this exercise. But, if you master a proper kettlebellswing, you can enjoy all the benefits this exercise has to offer while avoiding all the risks.
Hold your kettle bell in front of your hips with an overhand grip. Standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart, pull your shoulders down and back, and brace your abs.
Focus on your hip drive to pop the kettle bell upwards, not your arms. Use your lats and abs to stop the weight swinging upward and then let the kettle bell fall back down.
As Described in “The Four Hour Body” While there are several types of kettle bell swings, the two main variations are the Russian kettlebellswing and the Americankettlebellswing. Russian kettlebellswing — the kettle bell is swung forward and up to roughly shoulder-height.
Americankettlebellswing — the kettle bell is swung up and overhead until the arms are vertical. Russian kettle bell swings generally allow you to lift more weight, and they are easier to learn.
However, it’s all too easy to inadvertently shorten your rep range by not swinging the weight high enough, i.e., below shoulder-height. Swinging the weight up until the arms are vertical ensures that each rep is the same, making them easier to judge and quantify.
However, raising the weight so high will increase stress on the lower back, which could lead to injury. The increased range of movement also means you won’t be able to lift as much weight.
But, unless you are training for CrossFit competitions, the Russian swing is potentially the safer one, which may mean it’s the best choice for most exercisers. As recommended by the American Council on Exercise, ACE for short, this kettle bell workout is best done three times a week on non-consecutive days, e.g., Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
With this workout, you do a set of kettle bell swings at the start of each minute, and whatever time is left over is for resting. *Note: kettle bells are popular home workout gear, and some items are not yet back in stock, so you might need to be preordered.
AmazonBasics Vinyl Coated Cast Iron Kettle bell Weight With the Noose Fitness Kettle bell Handle, you can add as many or as few standard weight plates as you like, making it both ideal for a range of users and also saving you from buying several sets of kettle bells.
Kettle Grip Kettle bell Adjustable Portable Weight Grip No other kettle bell exercise offers so many benefits and is so easy to learn.
Kettle bell cleans and snatches come close, but they are much trickier to master. Whether you want to burn fat, get fit, or boost your dead lift performance, kettle bell swings will help.
Remember, to get the most from this exercise; you need to do them correctly and give yourself time to recover between workouts. Dead lifts are one of the best exercises on the planet to change your body dramatically, no matter what your age.
Related Posts:Footnotes:Please take a moment and share 5 Epic KettlebellSwing Benefits for Total Body Conditioning: 5 Epic KettlebellSwing Benefits For Total Body Conditioning In today’s world we spend the majority of our days doing things in front of us with terrible posture.
Cubicles) for hours at a time not moving and making the front of our body even tighter. If You’re Not Doing The Kettle bell Swing, You’re Destined To Stay Fat, Tight & Weak For The Rest Of Your Life!
This overuse of the muscles on the front side of our bodies is called “anterior dominance” and it is plaguing our society. Anterior dominance results in imbalances in our muscles causing us to move and perform at sub-optimal levels.
And because of our terrible posture — because our anterior muscles are shortened and tight pulling us forward — we give the illusion of being weak and unconfident as opposed to standing erect with our chins up. It’s no wonder that we’re generally unhealthy compared to previous generations that didn’t live a convenience lifestyle in this information age.
And there is one exercise — that if you incorporate it into your daily routine — can easily combat the ill effects of anterior dominance and the Western Lifestyle. FrequencyExercise TypeIntensityRepetitionsRest up to 7x per week strength training high intensity varies by workout varies by workout Once labelled “hard core”, kettle bells are now popping up in every gym, garage and backyard because of their portability and reputation for fast results.
Go into any gym and you’ll see inexperienced exercisers turning a swing into a front squat and shoulder raise exercise further tightening our hips, quads, chest and shoulders and just adding to the anterior dominance issue that I told you about above. A hip hinge — like a dead lift movement — forces you to use those posterior chain muscles to move the kettle bell.
It will allow you to loosen your tight hips and strengthen your butt so that you’ll develop the rear end of an athlete. It will bulletproof your low back by creating an armored brace around your midsection, and it will get rid of that paunchy gut.
“If You’re Not Doing The Hard style KettlebellSwing, You’re Destined To Stay Fat, Tight & Weak For The Rest Of Your Life!” As opposed to starting your set of swings from the standing position like how you see most amateurs do it, the hike pass allows you to overstretch your lats — a powerful muscle in your upper body with a direct relationship with your glutes — and get more “juice” out of your swing.
Push your hips back keeping your butt high and bend your knees slightly. Always making sure your shoulders stay above the level of your hips, “hike pass” the kettle bell through your knees by contracting your lats.
When you push your hips back keeping your butt high and your shins vertical, you are hinging. This is good because most people today are hip flexor and quad dominant (your anterior muscles), so learning how to load and use your posterior chain creates a natural balance between front and back that will help in preventing knee and hip issues.
Imagine that you are growing roots through your feet and grab the ground with your entire foot. Getting proper instruction from an expert so that you can MASTER THE KETTLEBELLSWING is the best thing that you can do for your training regardless of your goal.
If you want to build strength, kettle bell swings will forge a grip of steel and will add pounds to your dead lift & squat. If you want to boost your athleticism, kettle bell swings will make you more powerful and add height to your jump and shave seconds off your sprints.
If you want to pack on muscle, swinging a heavy kettle bell will build an intimidating upper back & set of shoulders. And if you want to shed body fat, swings will incinerate blubber like butter melting in an iron pan.