Why you need to add Russian Swings to your program.
“I’m American so I do American Swings. Russian swings are for pussies.” - Those were my thoughts until my coach started programming them for me.
Kettlebells are one of the best strength and conditioning tools out there. Owning a heavy KB for your garage gym, or a collection of them to train your clients, is a must.
Although there are endless variants for Kettlebell odd object use, there are two main moves that the majority of us know and implement when thinking up Ketllebell WODS: The American Swing and the (unfortunately) lesser-used Russian Swing.
The American Swing
Like almost every type of KB movement, the American Swing is great for building total body strength and stamina. Moving the bell from below the hip crease to directly above the head takes explosive drive through the legs and hips. It also takes arm and shoulder strength to extend through the top of the pull.
Although a seasoned athlete can handle a relatively heavy bell and swing it a few times through an entire range of motion, very few people can handle American Swinging kettlebells that weigh over 100lbs. So do you leave the 48kg bells for the giants of Strongman? No. That’s where the Russian comes in.
The Russian Swing
Though it has taken me a while to realize, and longer to come to terms with, I would say that the Russian style swing is not only essential to any program, but also my go-to when training new clients.
The full range of motion of a Russian swing begins at the hip crease and finishes around eye level. Since the bell does not need to be raised above the head, you can swing quite a bit more weight for reps than you could with the American style.
Unlike American swings, where you can easily judge whether or not a rep was good and therefore rest during a set in order to complete full ROM, the Russian swing tests your grip, muscular endurance, and willpower. As long as you hold on, the bell will swing seemingly by itself, with each rep sending you further and further into the dark place.
Finally, without having to finish with a pull of the arms, the Russian swing is ideal for teaching athletes how to drive with their hips while keeping the movement simple and easy to understand.
My experience has been that giving a new client a light kettlebell and teaching them the Russian swing is not only fast, but extremely effective in starting a body awareness skill transfer. After learning the Russian, American swings and Oly lifts and other functional movements become a lot easier.
Check out the demo video to see how it’s done (super simple) and then try them out for yourself!
Need an idea to start? Grab a heavy bell, do 3 rounds of 1 minute on and 30 seconds off, using a heavier kettlebell each time.
Our best guy swung a 48kg twenty-seven times in his last minute, can you beat it?