Potomac – Wednesday 140903


“The Short-Arc Kettlebell Swing” by Kyle Swinford

In the sport of kettlebells (yes there is a sport where people swing kettlebells) two hands are rarely if ever used with one kettlebell. When the two-handed swing is used in kettlebell teaching it’s mainly meant to be Russian-style for beginners where the kettlebell reaches the top of its arc around head level. As CrossFit became more and more popular the two-handed swing garnered a lot of attention as did the idea of then swinging the kettlebell over the head (American swing). So why go overhead? Well, it’s my belief that it’s easy to describe and easy to judge. Here’s a look into the American swing and how to be more efficient with it.

The overhead swing isn’t exactly the most natural of movements. While the shoulder has plenty of range of motion to offer, going overhead with both arms so close together presents some problems. Everyone has some degree of shoulder impingement and the closer the hands are together the more likely that impingement is to present itself. You may have pain, you may compensate by arching your bike, or just may not be able to raise your arms over your head in that manner. The important point is to not force that range of motion if it’s not there. Inevitably it may lead to injury.

In the sport of kettlebells, efficiency tells us to keep the kettlebell as close as possible. While a long arc, straight arm swing is easy to teach the beginner, the short arc swing with relaxed elbows comes out on top. Hip mechanics remain the same, the only difference is that as you swing the kettlebell it should follow a path closer to the body with bent elbows and finish with a little pull and punch at the top to get the kettlebell inverted and the head through the window of the arms. As gravity pulls the kettlebell back down, make sure to lean the torso back slightly to allow for the kettlebell to remain close to your center of mass. To implement this swing, first try 5-10 reps of 2-3 sets of a Russian-style swing honing your hip hinge and grip. When you feel you’ve got that down go for the same set and rep scheme with the American swing. Make sure to breathe! Controlling your breath with deliberate exhalation at the top of the swing is the last step to knocking out high volume kettlebell swings.

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  • Strong Man class goes at 0830 Sunday mornings at Patriot with Coach Mollie! This class is free for members, drop-ins pay a $20 drop in fee.

  • Warmup: EMOTM 8 Min
    3 Good Morning Squat
    3 Superman
    Alt: 3 Kipping TTB/3 Inchworm Pushup


    RX’d Level II Level I
    3 Rounds For Time:
    400m Run
    10 OHS 95/65
    Push Jerk
    3 Rounds For Time:
    400m Run
    10 OHS 75/55
    Push Jerk
    3 Rounds For Time:
    300m Run
    10 OHS 55/35

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