Friday, March 14, 2008

The "American" Swing

Jeff Martone has done a series of videos recently on the Crossfit site demonstrating kettlebell exercises. I have already pointed to the Turkish Get up tutorials.

Here he takes the basic kettlebell swing (which I showed him demonstrating here) overhead, into what Crossfit call an American Swing.

The basic swing taught by Pavel and others sees the kettlebell stop at around shoulder level, what Crossfit call the Russian swing. Their contention - explained in this article (pdf) - is that:

When we swing the kettlebell 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.

One thing I've noticed is that if you do a swing with a dumbbell, for me the natural end point is with the bell overhead, possibly received with a slight dip in the knees or even a split stance. That is how the old time strong men like Grimek performed the lift in competition. Remember this video?

Ross shows what I mean 3:05 into this video:


Anonymous said...

I've wondered about this, and I can't see where this doubling of the range of motion equates to a doubling of power output. I'm no mathematician, but my guess is that the majority of the output involves getting the kettlebell to the 0 degree point (straight out in front), and after that, successively decreasing fractions of the power is necessary to move it from that point to the 45 deg. point, and then to the 90 deg. point.

A friend described it this way: if you were just muscling the weight up, slowly, without momentum, then yeah, a doubling of the work required might be true. But since momentum is a large part of the swing, while you might need a slightly stronger initial effort to get the swing going, you don't need 2x as much.

So, where does the ideal spot lie? I have no clue. I do think that it's safe to say that the overhead swing isn't a doubling of the work required to get the weight straight out in front.

Dave Clary said...

I'd say an "American Swing" is roughly equivalent to a "Russian Snatch."

Chris said...

Anon - interesting point, well put.

Dave - it is similar but I think there are differences e.g. in the RKC style snatch there is a definite bend at the elbow as the arm goes past horizontal.

Dave Clary said...

Agreed. One of the drills in preparation for the snatch is a "high pull" which includes the high elbow. I may give this a try tomorrow. I'm curious to see how I am able to generate enough power to get the bell overhead without lifting it with the arms.

Anonymous said...

But you can't keep in your shoulder down, or 'packed in' in the American Swing as well as in the Russian swing. You can do that with a TGU, 'cuz its more or less static.Add momentum, your going to do some damage to your shoulder over the long term. RKC snatches are no picnic either. I think the Russian Swing is still a safer bet.