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The Fallacy of the Heavy Kettlebell Swing

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The Fallacy of the Heavy Kettlebell Swing

Post by Dave on Sat Dec 26, 2015 9:59 pm

This is a good read:

http://perform-360.com/fallacy-heavy-kettlebell-swing/
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Re: The Fallacy of the Heavy Kettlebell Swing

Post by Cesar on Sat Dec 26, 2015 10:42 pm

I need to get back into doing them more regularly
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Re: The Fallacy of the Heavy Kettlebell Swing

Post by Dave on Sun Dec 27, 2015 12:04 am

You have no idea.  Just wait til I post my workout later.  I am almost done.  :zerk:

Hint: I am in the middle of three days off, and today is the BIG day.
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Re: The Fallacy of the Heavy Kettlebell Swing

Post by Dave on Sun Dec 27, 2015 1:05 am

By the way, in the article, he links to another one, in which he gives 5 tips for a better swing... I skimmed it, but one thing I did pick up on was he encourages inhaling on the way down, and exhaling on the way up, then he goes on to talk about how dangerous it is to breathe in the swing the way I do, which is inhaling on the way up and exhaling on the way down.  I think he is full of baloney in his absolutist approach, and between the two methods, I find I have much better performance with "reverse breathing".  I also am stable, explosive, and powerful in that style, so take what he says there with a grain of salt.  If "normal breathing" indeed works better for you, great, but I am a staunch adherent of reverse breathing, and it is what I teach my trainees, and, short of some stark personal experience revealing new insight, it ain't about to change.  If you're still learning the swing, I would encourage you to give both methods the good ol' college try and make up your own mind on what works best for you.
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Re: The Fallacy of the Heavy Kettlebell Swing

Post by Rastaman on Mon Dec 28, 2015 1:32 am

How do you find the reverse breathing with one arm swings?
Noticed with your posted videos you focus hard on explosive 2 hand shadow swings and I can understand how exhaling on the negative would work. I'm still getting the feel for one arm swings and seem to be in two minds as to how much explosive power I should be putting into the negative as compared to what feels natural with the two arm swing.  Exhaling into the standing planke helps me focus on explosive hip drive and contracting the gluten/abs.  Something I've had to concentrate hard on after my early hip injury.  Pavel advises stopping the swing if you begin reverse breathing and can no longer exhale on the way up, but that may be more to do with losing tension and technique when fatiguing.
If you can maintain tension and explosive power with good form, whatever works I suppose.
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Re: The Fallacy of the Heavy Kettlebell Swing

Post by Dave on Mon Dec 28, 2015 3:23 am

What do you mean by "shadow swings"?  I googled it and only found tennis videos.

Rastaman wrote:How do you find the reverse breathing with one arm swings?

Intuitive and natural.

I'm still getting the feel for one arm swings and seem to be in two minds as to how much explosive power I should be putting into the negative as compared to what feels natural with the two arm swing.

I agree it is easier to actively pull the bell down during the two handed swing, and with more force, for sure.  I admit I don't emphasize it as much with one arm swings, but then I don't do one arm swings as often as snatches or heavy two hand swings.

Exhaling into the standing planke helps me focus on explosive hip drive and contracting the gluten/abs.

I agree it is the more intuitive way, if you have not practiced reverse breathing as much.  But there is no physiological need to lose tension during inhaling, exhaling or in between.  You should be able to remain braced seamlessly throughout the whole breathing cycle.

Pavel advises stopping the swing if you begin reverse breathing and can no longer exhale on the way up, but that may be more to do with losing tension and technique when fatiguing.  If you can maintain tension and explosive power with good form, whatever works I suppose.

I am more inclined to go with Steve Cotter's example than Pavel's.  He just has more credibility with me for some reason.  Here is Steve demonstrating the swing.  He is not talking about breathing here, but you can hear how he does it: IKFF style, or "reverse breathing".

https://youtu.be/rt3Vq3g0Usc?t=4m6s

Ultimately, whatever feels best for you is how you should do it, but I do believe that if you try to make reverse breathing work for you, it will be what feels best. It just seems to make more sense to inhale when extending the body and exhale when contracting it. It also allows me to pull the bell down with greater force than "normal breathing", and thus reap more gains from each swing. Just my opinionated two cents!
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Re: The Fallacy of the Heavy Kettlebell Swing

Post by Rastaman on Tue Dec 29, 2015 11:01 am

Thanks Dave, took a look at Steve Cotters swing, some good tips.

Shadow Swings are just accelerated 2 hand swing negatives, not as much emphasis on the float, from 'Simple and Sinister'. Googled it myself and didn't find anything either, not surprised you asked.

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Re: The Fallacy of the Heavy Kettlebell Swing

Post by Journeyman on Tue Dec 29, 2015 2:44 pm

Decent advice in the article, but awful form in the videos. Weight on toes, head down, etc.

Re, breathing: there's nothing dangerous or wrong about an anatomical breathing match, but biomechanical will always produce more power. There's a reason that athletes in all power sports exhale with their effort--lifters, throwers, sprinters, etc. You *will* be able to produce more tension and generate more power this way. Pulling the ribs down, bracing the abs, the whole nine yards. Glute tension comes on more easily this way too.

(Now, that doesn't mean that without enough practice you won't be able to generate significant force and tension using the anatomical breathing match.)

Regarding tension, there should be a cycle during the swing. It's a cyclical movement. If you're 'braced seamlessly throughout the whole breathing cycle' you either aren't generating power with your breath, or you've got your brakes on the entire time. There should be a cycle of relaxation and tightness. Yes even if you're breathing anatomically... watch a GS lifter up close and listen to their breathing. They are definitely alternating between tension and relaxation though the patterning will be a bit different from 'hardstyle'.

As for which form to choose, each will have different carryovers. If I wanted to focus on moving a moderate weight for as many reps as possible I'd use double knee bend, and an anatomical breathing match. Hey... sounds like GS. If I wanted to move a bigger weight, period or a lighter weight with more power I'd tighten up maximally and use biomechanical breathing. Hey... sounds like HS. The distinction is simple.

One more thing: for GS moving the kettlebell is a lift. For HS, it's just an exercise. Something to keep in mind.

If you want credibility, don't listen to Cotter. If you want GS info listen to the top GS coaches or at least someone who's made the master of sport ranking.

Overspeed eccentrics/shadow swings are a great tool for power generation and making a lighter bell feel heavy... supposedly 30% of your bodyweight is a good point for these but I don't know how the research was done. About 24kg does feel pretty good to me though. There should be no float whatsoever with overspeed swings (there is still a tension cycle), it's a tug of war.
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Re: The Fallacy of the Heavy Kettlebell Swing

Post by Dave on Tue Dec 29, 2015 3:22 pm

Anatomical breathing match = what I called reverse breathing?

When I said "braced seamlessly throughout the whole breathing cycle", I did not mean that the tension was maxed out throughout, just that there is still muscular tension throughout the whole movement.  My bracing is more emphasized at the top in the plank, and on the way back down.  It is less emphasized during the explosive contraction of my glutes; I still try to actively maintain a brace during this phase, but I don't force it.  I should have been more clear.

But your post makes me want to try biomechanical breathing again.
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Re: The Fallacy of the Heavy Kettlebell Swing

Post by Dave on Tue Dec 29, 2015 5:08 pm

Afterthought: Anatomical = efficiency, biomechanical = power output. Jman, do you agree with this simplification? It seems to me that (if this is the case) anatomical would be ideal for high reps and biomechanical would be ideal for low reps.
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Re: The Fallacy of the Heavy Kettlebell Swing

Post by Journeyman on Tue Dec 29, 2015 6:11 pm

Not necessarily (especially with the kb) but in general, yes.
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Re: The Fallacy of the Heavy Kettlebell Swing

Post by Dave on Tue Dec 29, 2015 9:07 pm

Elaborate?
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Re: The Fallacy of the Heavy Kettlebell Swing

Post by Journeyman on Tue Dec 29, 2015 11:10 pm

Breathing isn't the only difference between HS and GS. HS form is probably going to be more efficient with biomechanical breathing even with a light weight/high reps. Likewise, GS form is probably going to be more efficient with anatomical breathing even for lower reps.

GS involves using the bell's pendulum nature to the maximum, and also using the passive musculoskeletal structure to support and move the bell. HS is really just muscleing through using the form that generates the most power, so in either case the breathing matches the movement moreso than any particular rep range.
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Re: The Fallacy of the Heavy Kettlebell Swing

Post by Journeyman on Wed Dec 30, 2015 4:39 pm



Floating swings vs overspeed/shadow swings. Great example.
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Re: The Fallacy of the Heavy Kettlebell Swing

Post by Rastaman on Wed Dec 30, 2015 9:34 pm

Solid form. Really hi-lights stable base and tension in the standing plank.
Great example of maximum late hip hinge, can see where the power on the hip drive comes from, something I'm still working on.



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Re: The Fallacy of the Heavy Kettlebell Swing

Post by Dave on Wed Jan 20, 2016 2:24 am

Al Ciampa wrote:“A proper swing is a tug-of-war between the opposing body lines: posterior v. anterior. The glutes, hamstrings, and quads forcefully catapult the bell forward, while the lats, abdominals, and hip flexors catch it and throw it back—compress the posterior spring, fire the spring, compress the anterior spring, fire that spring, then do it again. Both the hinge and plank position are maximally tight—maximum feed-forward tension—for the time the bell spends flying out, one is “relaxed- tight”.

Pretty much what I meant when I said "braced seamlessly throughout", though he definitely explained it better than I did.

Journeyman wrote:Breathing isn't the only difference between HS and GS. HS form is probably going to be more efficient with biomechanical breathing even with a light weight/high reps. Likewise, GS form is probably going to be more efficient with anatomical breathing even for lower reps.

GS involves using the bell's pendulum nature to the maximum, and also using the passive musculoskeletal structure to support and move the bell. HS is really just muscleing through using the form that generates the most power, so in either case the breathing matches the movement moreso than any particular rep range.

This make a lot of sense, thanks!  Hardstyle to prioritize power development, and Girevoy Sport style to prioritize movement efficiency and positional stamina.
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Re: The Fallacy of the Heavy Kettlebell Swing

Post by Journeyman on Wed Jan 20, 2016 2:30 am

"Maximally tight." Happens with the biomechanical breathing match only, really.

The main difference with overspeeds is using the lats as powerfully as possible to throw the bell back down into the hinge. Artificially increases the load and gives you a bit of reflex action to push the bell back out, kind of like using band resistance on barbell lifts.

I don't do a lot of overspeed eccentrics but I do enjoy them... the 'place to start' is 30% bodyweight for 3 sets of 5-10 as activation before heavy squats and deads.

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