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Old Forum destroying the body?

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This article states that swings do not destroy the body like maximal deadlifts do. Can anybody explain this further?

Thank you
i was about to type an involved explanation but remember that someone had said it better already:

"The deadlift severely punishes those who overextend themselves—and rewards those who treat it as a practice, not a challenge.  Consider the contrast between these two statements by two strength authorities.  Louie Simmons pointed out that heavy deadlifts take a lot more out of you than they give you.  And Dan John observed that building strength with light “grease the groove” type deads is like “stealing.”  Save the killer attitude for competition—when you are ready for it.  Meanwhile, practice."

off to deadlift now :)
So just train smart, makes sense, thanks Russell!

When you say light type deads are you referring to weight or volume?

Do swings place less stress on the  joints and nervous system than deadlifts, because that was my interpertation

Do swings place less stress on the  joints and nervous system than deadlifts, because that was my interpertation
Actually, swings do put significant stress on the spine, much more shear force than a barbell lift. But other than that, I would say that swings put less stress on everything else than a deadlift.

I think the reason why one could do more swings is that swings are generally lighter, and even the hardstyle swing does not involve the stress on the body that a heavy deadlift would. A swing generally works the hip hinge the most, and has periods of relaxation and tension, whereas a deadlift works more harder (consider how taxing a deadlift is on all the muscles of the back and shoulders) and requires constant tension.

Swings are an assistance exercise, and even when done with heavy weights, are light compared to deadlifts. Traditionally, they were done with dumbbells or t-handles (the swing used to be a weightlifting event, but it looks like this: I do not know how taxing a heavy swing like that would be, or how a very light deadlift would compare to a normal kettlebell swing.

After all, I doubt the author of that statement had in mind someone swinging a 200+ lbs and deadlifting 100 lbs, but a normal swing of 24-32 kg and a normal heavy deadlift.

Dead-lifts just take a lot out of you so it can take a while to recover from a maximal set. Swings are easier to recover from..That's about it

I produce over 3.5X BW eccentric load at the bottom of a 2 arm swing with a 24 kg KB - just shy of 650 pounds of load - my best DL ever was 573

So the "loads" during a well performed swing are quite large - larger than the Deadlift but the quick ballistic nature of the swing vs. heavy grind of the DL hits the CNS differently
Brett: to achieve that, what do you do? That's to simple of a question or at least not explicit enough. Sorry. Are you forcefully trying to throw the bell down after reaching the top of the swing? For me,  I tense my stomach at the top of the swing and then as the bell is falling back through, I'm preparing for the next swing. I'm pulling (right word?) some but not a huge amount.  Sounds like what you are describing is a much better exercise all the way around for power development.
Brett: I probably just answered my own question. In this case i was a premature poster. do you go from say 2X bodyweight eccentric load to 3 or 3 1/2? I understand skill and practice but is there some sort of progression? This may not really be answerable.  Really curious. Very impressive.
I produce over 3.5X BW eccentric load at the bottom of a 2 arm swing with a 24 kg KB – just shy of 650 pounds of load – my best DL ever was 573
More information about those numbers and what they mean is needed. I do not think the full story is found in them.

studies have shown the mass amount of force the swing produce on the spine. I believe Pavel was involved in one of them. I remember force being close to 10x times the weight of the bell. That's 1000 pounds for the beast, but as Brett says, it affects the CNS (and I would think the joints) differently. Another factor is that typically, a session of swings will have way more volume than a session of deadlifts.
I believe the larger than expected load numbers come from the force required to reverse the momentum of the kettlebell on the downswing. You're not fighting momentum with a deadlift, just inertia.

Adding to Jason's post, remember that the hard style swing involves engaging the lats to actively move the bell down and doesn't rely on gravity and the bell's weight to generate the downward momentum.

How hard you use the last can increase the force and momentum you have to reverse.
Good source of info on this is found here:

HerrMannelig - if you would be more specific maybe I can answer the question(s)

It is a skill - check out the link and see if it answers your questions
The comparison of the eccentric load of a swing and a deadlift is not easy to compare. They are very different. It is like comparing a boxer's 250 lb bench press and 1000 lb punch force.

The weightlifting swing, the kind done by old weightlifters and done now as an assistance exercise, are done quite differently than a kettlebell (hardstyle or GS) swing. Arthur Saxon describes it in his book(s), and he did a one arm swing with 187 lbs. And weightlifters now do them with t-bars with heavy loads as well.

But the conditioning oriented two handed kettlebell swing is very different. They seem slower than a traditional overhead swing (which one may consider to be a snatch), with lower weights, but done for more repetitions.  I would bet that a traditional swing would be nearly just as taxing as a deadlift, or even more so.

Making it a partial movement, with light weights, and two hands would do wonders to make it less stressful on the body, ie, the kettlebell swing. Without comparison of numbers for other lifts, such as a traditional weightlifting swing, plyometric drills, etc, the facts for the kettlebell swing cannot be judged.

I do not expect comparable studies for other lifts (that would be very good information if you happened to have it on hand), but without such studies, the numbers do not tell the full story.

I think to generate impressive muscle recruitment or general larger than expected forces in a swing, you would need to have the ability already, ie, a person who deadlifts/cleans/snatches heavy weights will be able to do it, but a person is not going to work up to that just by swinging light weights with two hands. A person who could generate significant force like that in a kettlebell swing could likely do the same in any squatting/hinging movement, even with bodyweight only exercises.
@ HerrMannelig : dead lifts and swings, are both working hip hinge. As you are not training with kettlebells ( crossfit thread ) where do you find all the informations on Hardstylekettlebells swings :

- swings are generally lighter ? Assistance exercise ? A dead lift do not tax back muscles and shoulders, with again a good technique, back is neutral ,protected by abs in tension, and a good breathing, shoulders are not involve as working muscle in a dead lift.

- heavy swings are not light, they are heavy, and never heard of a dumbbell swing, Imcould be wrong, but for me, a swing is ballistic, so with dumbells or T- handles ? Weightlifting swing ? Did I missed something ?

- thank you to clarify .


I have used kettlebells before. I did not enjoy using them, but I was able to learn to do the lifts and did them for a while. However, kettlebells take a lot of skill to use which is specific to the kettlebell. They are highly technical tools and I spent far too much time just learning how to use them, rather than doing any productive lifting. And after I could "snatch" and clean the kettlebell properly, I found I was using a very light weight...and the only thing left to do was go for reps. And I did not want that. It was like doing 100 pushups. Once I reached that goal, I realized how little effect it had on strength, so I quit doing pushups for reps like that.

That is what inspired my thread here:

People seem to forget that the reason they are zealous about kettlebells is that they enjoy using them, which is important, however, there is a lot of clouded judgement in assessing their actual use. There is a sense of mysticism, where suddenly a 24 or 32 kg kettlebell is more than enough to be strong. The anecdotes about them are either untrained people getting some level of fitness and weightloss (which would happen with nearly any method of training if one stuck with it) or people who are already very strong doing rehab basically. And the kettlebell is shoehorned into every lift. It may be fine for learning how to do a TGU or a front squat, but for heavy lifting, you really need a heavier weight. Sandbags, dumbbells, or barbells are all better than kettlebells for strength after one is beyond a basic level of strength.

For the deadlift, the arms are held connected to the body and the back has to keep stabilize the spine. Deadlifts with heavy weight greatly stress the muscles of the shoulders and back. There is no way to to do a deadlift which does not involve the muscles of the back and shoulders. Although they are not moving the weight, they are involved greatly.

Heavy swings, in the context of kettlebell training, are light. For instance, the swing done in the study which cited Pavel, was done with a 32 kg kettlebell. That is the same weight which is swung for time in GS with one hand (the first lesson in this video, swing is after 7 minutes The tension in the hardstyle swing is generated by the lifter on purpose, ie, the weight is not demanding the tension, but the lifter is creating it on purpose. So, try a "GS swing" with the kettlebell you normally use for hardstyle swings. If it is heavy, why can it be swung without much tension? So the tension in hardstyle swings can be generated with any weight kettlebell.

For weightlifting swings, the swing was a practiced weightlifting lift. However, it is not like a kettlebell swing. It looked like this:

And the lifter stood up with it at the end, not shown in the image.

Arthur Saxon describes this swing as well, and he could do it with 187 lbs.

Here is Arthur Saxon beginning a swing:

As you can see, the traditional lift the Swing is heavier, probably faster, and for a longer motion than the kettlebell swing of any sort. Whether one is doing a low tension GS swing, or a high tension hardstyle swing, one is using a light weight, doing a partial movement, and generally doing it for reps.

Here is a T-handle swing (about 35 seconds in):

Also, kettle weights used back then were shot filled and hollow and could be much heavier.

Cast iron or steel kettlebells and kettlebell sport was developed in the Soviet Union, and is a modern sport, with its origins in the 20th century. The evolution of this into what we see now in kettlebell training is interesting, but the history is clouded. The fact that kettlebell lifting is a specialized skill, ie, most of the skill is in just learning to handle the object, and that the weights are light, and thus, done for reps, is lost on many who think it is a secret strength training method. That propaganda is probably a business decision, after all, it would be hard to hype up calisthenics, dumbbells, and barbells, so the gimmick must be put in the centre and surrounded with mystery.

Training with kettlebells can make a person lean and somewhat developed physically, but so can light calisthenics done for reps (a person who can do 100 pushups and 20 pullups and 50 hindu squats will not be much different from a person who works with 24 kg kettlebells).

Swinging and push pressing a kettlebell or doing a partial swing (in kettlebells, the "swing" is called a "snatch", and the "push press" is called a "jerk", and the swing is merely a partial movement used used to assist in training for the clean and true swing) for reps is hardly a mainstay of strength training. If anything, it is a specialized sport and done because the participants enjoy it, not because it is the best for anything.


So much for not going against the grain, but the distraction of light repetitive lifting here looks very strange in light of the great research and coaching by the founder of this organization. There is only so much one can do with light weights. Good for rehab, mobility, and for endurance exercises, but it should be Strong First.

You missed out so many of the Positive aspects of the Kettlebell training I dont know where to begin. Anaerobic conditioning, powerful athelete movement, great for flexibility and mobility. Granted higher volume is often required for strength gain, but a man as the capacity to be the middle of know where with a Kettlebell or two and get good levelk of strength  and conditioning. All from one tool.

And since a 32kg Kettlebell is so Light to you I would be intrested to listen to you Strength accomplishments?
I hope my statements do not get glossed over and I am summed up as being "against kettlebells". Ignore what I wrote if one does not want to address what I wrote. 

I did not miss out on the positive aspects. I was specifically addressing some of the exaggerated claims and propaganda. That there is benefit to it and there is a beneficial training effect was not denied.
Anaerobic conditioning, powerful athelete movement, great for flexibility and mobility.
It is interesting that I question that kettlebell training makes one particularly strong, other benefits are touted instead of dispelling my statements. I have no doubt that kettlebells are good for what you just listed. I even recommend kettlebell training to some people and have helped some people get started. I also know of many other things which are good for that. High intensity intervals with calisthenics and mobility drills would give the same thing.
 Granted higher volume is often required for strength gain, but a man as the capacity to be the middle of know where with a Kettlebell or two and get good levelk of strength  and conditioning. All from one tool.
Kettlebells are not cheap, and there are cheaper and far more flexible tools available, starting with calisthenics. One can do things for reps, for grinds, explosively, for skill development, etc, and with no cost.

And, strand pulling offers perfectly muscular shoulders, upper back strength and development, strong and muscular arms, and the cost of a good strand pulling device and strands is less than a kettlebell and there is no time spent learning how to use it without hurting yourself.

Sandbag training offers a cheap, highly versatile, and scalable resistance as well. Just a sand bag, maybe a few dollars worth of sand (or water softener, rock salt, rubber mulch, or a variety of other fills), and you get the functional and awkward shape which is both adjustable and cheap.

And of course, barbell and dumbbell training.

Learning how to use a kettlebell as a tool of choice is a significant investment in time spent learning how to use it, acquisition of kettlebells, and with an definite upper limit on gains with a given bell.

I think the exaggeration of claims does a great disservice to it. It is something which is marketable (more marketable in the USA than good resources on flexibility, mobility, and barbell training), which is why it is given centre stage.

I think a sober sense of reality, instead of a glamorous  fictional, view of an exotic secret method of the scary Soviet elites...the same elites which if given the chance, jumped the fence. And after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, led to an exodus of skilled people to other nations to make a make money. It is not so easy to sell what is already widely available, so one has to find a new market.

Hard work, mandatory conscription, and strict food rationing leads to a nation of lean fit people, which is what happened in the USSR. Warrior fantasies are not good for the mind.

This Russian kettlebells are new to America, and people are having some fun with them, and many are getting results. That is fine. But lets keep it real.
And since a 32kg Kettlebell is so Light to you I would be intrested to listen to you Strength accomplishments?
I intentionally do not give numbers for the most part online. However, a bodyweight bent press, over 2.5 bodyweight deadlift, 100 pushups, weighted pullups for reps, etc nothing minor I think. Right now, I do calisthenics and strand pulling only and I no longer lift iron.

If my physique were seen, one would think well of it. No bodybuilder bulk, good mobility and development, and very lean. It is exactly what is described as being a result of kettlebell training:
Kettlebells forge physiques like antique statues: broad shoulders with just a hint of pecs, back muscles standing out in bold relief, rugged forearms, an armored midsection, and explosive legs without a hint of squatter’s chafing.
However, this is the result of being lean and using one's body to do work...almost any work. One could work in a forge, in a junkyard, loading artillery, etc and get the same results. It is human physiology.

I knew there was going to be a demand for personal strength achievements in response to what I wrote. Strength is not a cult, and it would be a shame if marketing took over. Dissenting thoughts should not cause discomfort. If kettlebells are the ultimate strength training tool, then it is my loss I suppose. My statements here are not a personal attack on anyone, and it isn't like people are going to read what I wrote and say "hey, you're right" and just give up on kettlebell training (especially since it is a major business, and many are financially and emotionally invested in it).

Especially since the strongest people, skilled gymnasts, the elites in the militaries of the world, and the strongest people in history did not use kettlebells as developed in the Soviet Union, my position is a safe one.

But, for the luxuries of the rich nations, with its sedentary populations and lack of real need for labour for most people, any system of training which gets people moving and using their bodies like humans should be doing is ultimately a good thing. But I do not think this should be at the expense of reality.


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