Do kettlebell swings build strength?

Discussion in 'Old StrongFirst Forum (Read-Only)' started by xagunos, Jan 7, 2014.

  1. xagunos

    xagunos Double-Digit Post Count

    Do kettlebell swings build strength like a squat or deadlift would? What would be the benefit of doing them instead of an exercise you could load heavier? And I notice swings are usually done for higher reps, is this optimal for strength development?
     
  2. ericreichelt81

    ericreichelt81 Triple-Digit Post Count

    Not to be a total a#@, but c'mon man. Really?  You can educate yourself to an extent before asking this, and not because it doesn't deserve an answer. Rather, because you need to build your own opinion and experiences. But very simply, of course they can't build the same absolute strength as a barbell. It's 50-100 lb.
     
  3. Rickard

    Rickard More than 500 posts

    Short answer: Yes

     

    Long answer: It depends... on goals, where you currently are etc. (Andy Bolton uses swings but there is no way he could have built his deadlift strength without deadlifting)
     
  4. Stefan

    Stefan Triple-Digit Post Count

    Hello Alex Chaney,

    Can you clarify what you mean by this?

    You will certainly not have the same effect from swings that you would from a deadlift but perhaps that's not what you're asking?
     
  5. Luke Luko

    Luke Luko Double-Digit Post Count

    Try a little experiment.

    Test your deadlift now. And for few months do heavy/shadow swings. After that test your deadlift, and you will have the answer. The answer will be: yes.
     
  6. xagunos

    xagunos Double-Digit Post Count

    Sorry maybe I should the question a bit. Are kettlebells optimal for strength comparing to something like heavy barbell lifts? I cannot see a swinger be stronger than someone who has a 600 deadlift.
     
  7. xagunos

    xagunos Double-Digit Post Count

    In other words, are swings simply an assistance exercise for bigger lifts or would doing them alone make you strong like a squat or deadlift.
     
  8. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides StrongFirst Director of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    No. Kettlebell swings are a different movement that seems to have a lot of carryover to the deadlift but kettlebell swings shouldn't be considered a complete, long-term substitute for the barbell deadlift or squat for someone interested in improving their performance in the deadlift or squat.
    You don't do swings instead of deadlifts or squats. You use swings to further your progress toward your goals. Swings can make a great addition to a barbell program - many people have reported their deadlift one-rep maximum go up when they've added swings as an assistance exercise.

    An experienced powerlifter might make progress on his deadlift or squat by having a cycle of 6-12 weeks during which he doesn't deadlift or squat but only swings. The progress, however, wouldn't be visible until the swing cycle was finished and a new powerlifting cycle started and finished.
    There is much we don't understand about many things, exercise and lifting included. We call this the "what the heck" effect. The evidence is undeniable that swings help deadlifts, and the evidence is also undeniable in the other direction, that deadlifts can help with swing performance. Why? I think about it but, in the end, what matters is what works, no?

    Hope that's helpful to you.

    Steve Freides
    StrongFirst Team Leader
    Multiple AAU and WNPF deadlift age/weight-group national and world record holder
     
  9. Gary Music

    Gary Music Triple-Digit Post Count Team Leader Certified Instructor

    Swing two beasts for a 10x10 and get back with me.  :)

     
     
  10. crt1

    crt1 Triple-Digit Post Count

    Alex, I noticed in another thread that you said you were a high school wrestler.  Though I am primarily a Taekwondo guy (20 yrs), I've trained a little BJJ (3 yrs) so I sort of understand the strength, flexibility and metabolic demands of grappling.  The KB swing is going help you in all of those areas.  Depending on your relative strengths and weaknesses, it may help you on the mat more than heavy DLs and Squats.  In other words, do not underestimate the Swing.

    You should really talk to your coach about what he thinks your deficit is and work with him to build a weekly routine that works well with your practice and competition schedule.  (e.g., a little strength work every day, or is it two big lifting days per week on such and such days).  You don't want to over train or go into a meet totally smoked.

    In terms of exercise selection, someone recently posted a video of an Olympic Judoka doing his strength work and it was essentially Swings & Get-ups.  That is not to say he doesn't do other stuff, he probably does but clearly there is a respect for these fundamental moves and surely leaves gas in the tank for skill work later in the day.

     
     
  11. Pavel

    Pavel Founder and Chairman Master Instructor

    Alex, read Easy Strength.
     
  12. Derrick Blanton

    Derrick Blanton Double-Digit Post Count

    Alex, I think it's a great question.  I like what Steve said that there is a lot we don't fully understand about strength adaptations, and carryover and such.

    There is certainly something to be said for repetitive patterning of a movement, "greasing the groove", as Pavel says.  Think of this as opening up the neural pathways to the working muscles.  So I think there is a definite carryover from swings to other hip hinge activities, and I also think that someone can translate some strength benefits from "extra work" pushups, and goblet squats up to a point.

    Ultimately to get really strong, you will have to increase the load, so think of the swings as neural grooving practice.  Never mind that they will improve your conditioning and body comp tremendously.

    @ericreichart:  The guy is asking a pertinent question, and your response was that of a too smart for the room bully.
     
  13. crash123

    crash123 More than 300 posts

    I'm of the camp that swinging and doing TGUs with a heavy bell will get you super strong.  the ballistic force of the swings creates a strength effect much greater than the number printed on the side of the bell.  I'm not capable of doing single arm swings with The Beast yet, but when i get there i expect that my deadlift will have improved and i guarantee that my bench will be solid after doing heavy TGUs.  my body has never felt so balanced with core stability and strength, and my shoulders have NEVER felt as solid as they have after putting time in with S&S and i am only on the Simple level (32kg) at this point.  i was never a competitive powerlifter, but i was in the 500 pull club and i could bench 225 for 20 full lock out no bounce reps - now that was in my 20s, but I'm telling you that at age 48 and just doing kb work; mainly swings, TGUs and Farmers Walks (thanks Dan John) i feel as strong now as i did then.
     
  14. Mark Limbaga

    Mark Limbaga Quadruple-Digit Post Count Certified Instructor

    A little anecdote: one of the gyms where I teach had an incentive for members who can deadlift 315 and up (males) 225 and up (females) most of my students pulled those respective weights easily and they deadlift once a month on average
     
  15. ericreichelt81

    ericreichelt81 Triple-Digit Post Count

    My response is not dismissive, at least wasn't intended that way. If someone has a question in which it's obvious they've put no effort into education, then how do you know who to listen to?  Most questions on here seem to be looking for confirmation bias and that's a question that shouldn't be asked. Can we agree that it's our own responsibility to be educated to a degree on the question we might ask?  What I was the only guy who responded and said hell ya, swings will get you jacked and tan and deadlifts are unsafe. How would he know I'm an idiot?  Also, swinging 2 beast still doesn't compare to a heavy pull, and heavy is not 315 even for 25 reps. Swinging 2 beast is awesome for other reasons, but for absolute strength, the barbell wins here. Use each for they benifits they offer.
     
  16. Pavel

    Pavel Founder and Chairman Master Instructor

    Eric, good point.

    Alex, at this stage in your training career you would be best off just picking one program and following it without asking any questions.  It will save you a lot of frustrations down the road.
     
  17. Dave0317

    Dave0317 Triple-Digit Post Count

    I agree with "it depends". There are a lot of factors to consider to decide if it will benefit you. The best thing you can do is read. The next best thing you can do is try lots of different things.

    Read:
    Easy Strength
    Power to the People
    Simple and Sinister
    Intervention
    Starting Strength

    Do several different programs over the next year. Get familiar with the power lifts, Olympic lifts, kettlebells, and bodyweight movements.

    Sounds like so far you just don't know what you don't know. The above will give you a large piece of the puzzle. I'm still looking for the rest of the answer myself.
     
  18. ericbugenhagen

    ericbugenhagen Still New to StrongFirst Forum

    first off, I know this is an older thread but I just registered and saw the topic and figured I'd share my two cents. I've been doing swings on and off for a few years now. I've also been EXTREMELY devoted to deadlifting withing that same time frame. That being said...I've managed to raise my deadlift from an ugly mid 300's to a mid 600's all within a 3 year window. I give most of the credit to being devoted and consistent with doing high intensity deadlifts very often...pretty much greasing the groove as pavel would say. With that being said, I always seem to see slight improvement with my lockout strength when I bring swings back into the mix. Unfortunately, the correlation between my swings improving and my deadlift improving is diminishing. Obviously because the heaviest kettlebell i own is only 97lbs and my conventional deadlift is mid 600's while my trap bar deadlift is 800. Basically, to sum this all up, the kettlebell swing is a frickin awesome movement to build a great foundation of strength and improve your big compound movements up to a certain point....the stronger you get, the less you'll get out of your swings...UNLESS...you are rich and can afford the monster kettlebells. I'm seriosuly considering buying the 203lb kettlebell. If only it wasn't 500 dollars haha. Until then, looks like I'll being doing sets of 100 with my 97lb kb
     
  19. Pavel

    Pavel Founder and Chairman Master Instructor

    Eric, well done on your DL!  Respect.
     
  20. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides StrongFirst Director of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    Eric, get or make a t-handle that you can load with plates for heavier 2-handed swings.

    -S-
     

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