Old Forum American Swing???

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Level 1 Valued Member
WTF is the American Swing? It looks more like a real lazy two arm snatch to me (Shoulder is in a bad position and the risk of the kettlebell falling backwards at the top). Yet, I see tons of people doing it... even my little brother...

Is the difference between the AS and Hard-style swing basically the same between a low-bar back squat and a front squat. Meaning they are both useful but serve different purposes?

The american swing has more range of motion, as 'they' often say, but I don't see how that it relevant to the movement. The force applied to lift the KB can be the same for both swings. It is just that with the hardstyle swing you stop it, with you lats, and thus recruit more muscle. Then you slam it down between your legs in what I perceive to be a more controlled manner which facilitates proper form (essentially proper use of the hip hinge).

I read a couple of 'their' studies about the AS and hard-style swing and I didn't see these things mentioned. I view the swing's primary purpose as a drill, not a metabolic conditioning ,and strengthening tool. Although I do see it extremely useful a such, but only after proper form is learned.

I see no reason to perform the american swing, or take it seriously. I am curious about people's thoughts on these two seemingly similar swings.


Level 1 Valued Member
The "dumb American" swing is the reductio ad absurdum of Crossfit. They invented it to count reps! The danger it may cause to shoulders is secondary to the robust Mr. Glassman and his brilliant marketing team.


Level 7 Valued Member
I know some diehard Crossfitters who think it is stupid. If you want a standard by which to count reps,  just do snatches.


Level 3 Valued Member
I've got to agree. I saw some crossfit people the other day doing some... looked like chimps f***ing a football. They were doing a lot of other goofy crap that made me pause and start to head inside to tell someone people are going to get hurt if they insist on the insanity I was witnessing. They stopped and the instructor was nowhere to be seen, so I opted to mind my own business for a variety of reasons and move on.

Often I think ADD trainers with their egos change up the movements so they don't have to perfect them, and to make it difficult or impossible for someone to critique because it is "theirs". They use other BS certifications they have (usually via internet) to claim they have the qualifications to develop new stuff.

My personal rule... unless it comes from Pavel or one of the seniors, it gets no consideration at all. We've got a guy here in Brisbane who teaches a lot of people Kettlebells, but he is not certified, and a lot of them end up injured. Those who have come to our gym from him have very poor technique even in the standard movements.

Besides, one of the things I love about the bells... keeping it simple. Don't need a hundred exercises with a dozen variations each. Do a few things REALLY well, and you'll be rock solid strong.


Level 3 Valued Member
AFAIK the American Swing is not a movement you can bring safely to every type of client. There is nothing inherently wrong with it, save that the mobility demands are beyond most people, and the overhead movement occurs at the cost of neutral lumbar spine position. If someone can do it well, why not? And Pavel has described this in the original RKC book.


Level 5 Valued Member
"If you want to swing above the chest, just do snatches." Believe I read that in my manual.

I've argued against the A-swing at a local shop where I coach. Argument being, there is no point of stability at the apex of the movement, so how can we correct/train/modify the movement in a class situation? While the director of programming respectfully disagrees with its use, they had no response about my point.

The best we can do sometimes is let the as-yet-unbroken first break themselves, then seek reasonable second opinions about their training. The A-swing, kipping pull-up, and barbell snatch "for reps" keep a local sports chiro and dear friend in business; I give those movements a nod for boosting the local economy.


Level 3 Valued Member
rambodoc's note about mobility is spot on. I see the top of this movement almost like a barbell rollout, but the hands have to be so much closer because of the size of the bell handle. From what I can tell,  the lack of shoulder external rotation at end range flexion  and abduction is more dangerous than the rollout. Maybe someone will come up with a two handled kettlebell where the handles rotate, so you can finish the move with your shoulders in neutral position.  That just sounds silly, though.


Level 3 Valued Member
But the crossfitters say that the American swing requires more force, so wouldnt it be useful as a intermediate step on the way to the kettlebell snatch?


Level 2 Valued Member
@Daniel O. ...I would think you'd end up doing a front raise rather than employing more hip force with that swing. As Rickard and Stephen have said, heavy swings and/or high pulls are the better way to improve your snatch.


Level 3 Valued Member
@ Daniel, Crossfitters say lots of things. They could produce plenty of force with back squats or deadlifts but that doesn't have as cool of a name as "American Swing". I don't see slapping an "American" tag on the movement making it any better, and I tried this movement once. Once.

Just as an aside, is there anyone else who feels that the kettlebell community and the crossfit community are headed for a collision?

Rob Lawrence

Level 3 Valued Member
There's no need for an intermediate movement between a swing and a snatch.

The problem with this movement is that an inexperienced person is going to use their arms to lift the bell -- period, the end.

I do a movement I call an "American press" -- it's a kettlebell press as performed by me in my basement.


Level 1 Valued Member
"headed for a collision?"

Ships that pass in the night, more likely. If people want to do stupid things, let them.

Looks to me like the quadrant theory in DJ and Pavel's book _Easy Strength_ is specifically directed against the CrossFit ideology--Glassman thinks those of us in the third quadrant of our lives should try to live as though in the first (except for him, since he doesn't do Crossfit himself.)

Personally I discovered kettlebells and rings through Crossfit.  Mike Boyle has the right approach:

Is Crossfit Good for Business?

At this weeks staff meeting I told our staff that Crossfit might be the best thing that ever happened to our business. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy. Let me take a minute and explain a few reasons why I think Crossfit is good for MBSC.

1- Crossfit gets people training with multi-joint exercises and intervals. Good

2- Crossfit provides an inexpensive barrier to entry. Good

3- Crossfit gets people injured. Good? I’ll explain later

4- Crossfit has a huge promotional relationship with Reebok. Good?

Here’s how I see it. People try Crossfit and like it. Then people get injured doing it and look for a better alternative. They find places like MBSC that at least ,to the uninitiated, look similar to Crossfit ( think multi-joint exercises and intervals). They often don’t know the difference initially except they don’t get injured.

Reebok runs adds for “The Sport of Fitness”. The Reebok ads look like they could be for MBSC. The Reebok ads feature multi-joint exercises with perfect technique. That sounds like MBSC ( except we have a mix of young and old, fit and not fit). We don’t see anyone collapse. We don’t see anyone with lousy technique. We don’t see an vomit or bloody hands?

Sometimes you need to look at the glass at least as half full.


Level 4 Valued Member
Crossfit:  The scientology of fitness.

I didn't make that up.  It's almost a parody of good training.  Such a superficial resemblance.  I almost could have been suckered in a few years ago, right after watching the movie 300.  From what I gather, the coaches who make it work use movement screens, periodization, separate strength and cardio sessions, to the point where it's not even Crossfit anymore.  Even the Crossfit games athletes (awesome) use plain old sports science planning, roughly like training for decathalon.

Casserole workouts.

What I am wondering is, apart from the injuries and WOD mentality, are MetCons essentially wrong?  By combining strength and cardio in a blender, you fail at both?  It makes no sense to me to strength train while you're gassed.  But strength training followed by a brief smoker as in ETK is correct?  Not just practical, but it "sends" a clear, consistent message to your muscles and heart -- get jacked!


Level 4 Valued Member
You're stuck on an island with Hitler, Stalin, and a crossfitter.  You have a gun with three bullets.

What do you do?

Shoot the crossfitter twice.  Save a bullet for yourself just in case the crossfitter lives.

I kid.  We're blood cousins.


Level 4 Valued Member
What is conditioning?

Is that what you do after shampooing?

Is there such a thing as super-duper hybrid muscle?  Or is there just strength and cardio?


Level 2 Valued Member
What would you consider a "MetCon" .. just a superset of two/ three movements?  I am a former Crossfitter (Please don't make fun of me.. please?).  If done correctly, I don't think "metcons" are dangerous.. IF DONE CORRECTLY. Wouldn't kettlebell complexes/chains be considered metcons?  Just like in the Force Recon workout (posted on DD), why don't you do a short KB complex follow imeediately with a 100yd recovery jog, and do that for 20-30 minutes?


CrossFit didn't invent HIT (HIIT).  If don't correctly; I believe it can be a very powerful tool in your toolshed.  This, of course, is just my two cents.  It must be used in moderation though.  Don't go to the gym and crush yourself with constant WODing. (in my opinion..)


Just as a side note.. since I've stopped CrossFitting, I am now swining chest/eye level completing about 350x Swings with the 32 in roughly 32 minutes with NO CHALK and no hand rips. (I said roughly because I don't go for time anymore.. I time my rest periods).  I have also hit PRs in a number of my lifts.
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