Strong swing, weak deadlift - how to bridge the gap?

ali

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
It’s the practice of tension that makes the difference, and is usually ignored, misunderstood, traded for by the average practitioner.
Something that I've gained by not having a bigger bell than a 32 to swing. Dunno if this is the same thing but I just really turn up the volume of the tension at the top, hip drive speed and always hitting maximum on every rep. Had I bought a 40 probably would have thought my power with the 32 then was all ok but being embedded with it and focusing only on tension and speed (and technique too obvs!) has provided additional benefits in better technique and understanding maybe.
No doubt practicing with a 40 will provide greater strength benefits to make the 32 feel easier but will making the 32 harder make a 40 feel easier? Guess I'll have to get one.....
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
@kennycro@@aol.com, we must edit. Everyone has to meet article length requirements, make sure the writing will be understood by the intended audience, etc.

-S-
 

fractal

More than 500 posts
Something that I've gained by not having a bigger bell than a 32 to swing. Dunno if this is the same thing but I just really turn up the volume of the tension at the top, hip drive speed and always hitting maximum on every rep. Had I bought a 40 probably would have thought my power with the 32 then was all ok but being embedded with it and focusing only on tension and speed (and technique too obvs!) has provided additional benefits in better technique and understanding maybe.
No doubt practicing with a 40 will provide greater strength benefits to make the 32 feel easier but will making the 32 harder make a 40 feel easier? Guess I'll have to get one.....
I stopped doing 1H swings with my 36kg because I felt they were too slow. My next bell down was 28kg, which I would swing for 10-20 repeats of 5 as part of my snatch sessions. After a few weeks, I swung my 36kg was much more ease and power than I ever have. In my experience, you don’t need to swing near your max to get maximum benefits. I think the unique horizontal projection of force with a swing means that the faster you can move it, the heavier it feels / greater the training effect.
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
it is the practice of tension that carries over, not “doing the work” in and of itself. If your swings are practiced with high-tension, there will be noticeable carry over to DL, especially if the two hinge positions are similar.
the faster you can move it, the heavier it feels / greater the training effect.
+1, +1. High tension and explosive swings are the key to getting the most out of them! And they don't take any more time than easy/lazy swings, they just WORK a whole lot better.

So, all you kettlebell swingers, CRANK.... IT.... UP!
 

offwidth

More than 5000 posts
Sincere question here...
I see plenty of videos of people swinging big bells. Sometimes they are lucky if they get waist high. Everything else being equal with regards to form; what are the physiological differences in swinging a bell chest high, vs less than that with a much heavier bell?
 

ali

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
@offwidth, know what you mean. By his own admission, the video of Bret Contreras swinging a very heavy bell is not pretty.
A half arsed, slow but very heavy bell v full power, max tension, moderate bell. If moving something quickly increases force production then at some point, if measured, would they, or could they, be the same?
And if by swinging a heavy bell without full extension, or a full deep hinge are you perhaps doing so with greater muscle energy but a lighter bell to full extension with a deep hinge using a greater range of motion and using elastic energy too?
Dunno.
I can blast out some 10+ crap pull ups but only 3 full range proper ones. Same with dips and something you see a lot of at gyms - peeps doing multiple rep dips that could loosely be called partials but partially partial. Shoulders shrugged and horrible. There are differences, I think, but no idea why or how or if one is better than the other depending on goals. Partial ranges have uses but.....
Is definition driven by technique and what the standard of technique is....picking up a very heavy bell and swinging it a few degrees one way and then the other is a swing but is it?
Is any heavy swing better than a well executed, controlled and powerful but lighter swing? hmmmmm.....
 

kennycro@@aol.com

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
@kennycro@@aol.com, we must edit. Everyone has to meet article length requirements, make sure the writing will be understood by the intended audience, etc.

-S-
The Company Line

That sound like a Politically Correct, traditional company line.

Grammar, Composition Structure and An Economy of Words

I have no issue with edits that improve an article. I am fine with correcting grammar issues, making sure the information is understood and written in a straightforward manner using economy of words rather than rambling.

My concern with edits is when pertinent information is omitted to an article is omitted; which occurred with one article of mine that was published.

My intention with article or in posting information is always to make sure it is understood and the facts are presented.

Kenny Croxdale
 

kennycro@@aol.com

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Sincere question here...
I see plenty of videos of people swinging big bells. Sometimes they are lucky if they get waist high. Everything else being equal with regards to form; what are the physiological differences in swinging a bell chest high, vs less than that with a much heavier bell?
Heavy Waist Level Swings

These Swings overload the posterior chain to a greater degree that a Chest High Swing or something even higher such as The American Kettlebell Swing.

Thus, the determinate factor of how heavy the Kettlebell is and high you Swing it is depended on your Exercise Objective.

Kenny Croxdale
 

kennycro@@aol.com

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
offwidth, know what you mean. By his own admission, the video of Bret Contreras swinging a very heavy bell is not pretty

Contreras' Swing look okay to me. They meet the objective of overloading the posterior chain, glutes and hamstrings.

A half arsed, slow but very heavy bell v full power, max tension, moderate bell. If moving something quickly increases force production then at some point, if measured, would they, or could they, be the same?
Heavy Kettlebell Swing Speed

I would not categorize the Heavy Kettlebell Swing Speed as Slow. However, the Speed is slower than it's going to be a slower than if you are using a Kettlebell that let's say half the that weight

Training Percentages of 1RM

The size of the load (Percentage of the 1 RM Load) matters when training for Speed and Power.

Verhoshansky's Special Strength, a brilliant piece of work, goes into this.

From 0 to 100: Know Your Percentages! | T Nation

This article by Chris Thibaudeau provides good, simple information; a quick easy read, good reference.

Speed Training

Speed Training (The Westside "Speed Training" Method is a misnomer, it "Power Training") is reliant on using fairly light loads. Speed Training for Traditional Weight Exercise should utilize 10 - 40% of 1 RM, with around 30% being the optimal load.

Power Training

Power Training for Traditional Weight Exercise should employ loads of 48 - 62% of 1RM.

Olympic Movements, ballistic movement like Kettlebell Swings, produce greater Power Output with heavier loads.

Olympic Movements with load of 70 - 80% provide that greatest Power Output.

Contreras article on Heavy Kettlebell Swing demonstrated Power Output the rival Olympic Movement.

And if by swinging a heavy bell without full extension, or a full deep hinge are you perhaps doing so with greater muscle energy but a lighter bell to full extension with a deep hinge using a greater range of motion and using elastic energy too?
Stretch Reflex/Elastic Energy

Both Moderate and Heavy Kettlebell Swings elicit the Stretch Reflex. However, the training effect is a bit different.

Olympic Pulls

High Pulls use less weight, allowing your to pull the weight higher into the chest area.

Low Pulls use a greater load, only allowing your to pull the weight to waist height.

The training objective dictate the height; one is not better than the other.

Is any heavy swing better than a well executed, controlled and powerful but lighter swing?
The Exercise Objective

Preforming a Heavy Kettlebell Swing elicits a different training effect compared to a Moderate Swing.

I am a proponent of performing Heavy Kettlebell Swings with good form, dependent on your training objective.

Essentially, the Kettlebell Load is a tool in your Training Tool Box. You want to use the right Kettlebell Load for the right job.

With that said, many individual perform Kettlebell Swing too light load.

Kenny Croxdale
 
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Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
My concern with edits is when pertinent information is omitted to an article is omitted; which occurred with one article of mine that was published.
I can't imagine anyone _not_ being concerned about those things, Kenny. Was that article published _here_? If so, please PM me the details. I don't edit articles here, but I can honestly say I've never heard any of our authors complain about the editing of their articles. (I do proofread sometimes, but that's different than editing - just checking for typos, misspellings, odd punctuation, and the like.)
That sound like a Politically Correct, traditional company line.
That may be, but it's also true, regardless of what it sounds like. If you want to write exactly what you want to write, when you want to write it, you can create your own blog and do just that. Or you can post here, where length and other article considerations don't need to apply (and we're glad you do.)

-S-
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
Sincere question here...
I see plenty of videos of people swinging big bells. Sometimes they are lucky if they get waist high. Everything else being equal with regards to form; what are the physiological differences in swinging a bell chest high, vs less than that with a much heavier bell?
I think each person has a different mix of strength, skill, and explosiveness. So it depends.

Strength affects the ability to produce enough force to move the bell as well as the ability to maintain form with a heavy weight + its momentum. Everyone should stay within this ability with the weight/reps. But of course more strength makes it possible to swing a heavier bell.

Skill is the ability to use your power, stability, tension, timing, etc. for effective execution of the swing. A person with more skill can swing heavier weight than a non-skilled person with equal strength and explosiveness.

Explosiveness has a range, I think. There's a sweet spot for sure, but you can be explosive for a good bit on either side of that weight. Oddly, explosiveness isn't really detected by how high the bell goes. It's more about where the power comes from, and how brief the force application is.

As for the physiological differences, I can say that when I swing the 48kg beast (video), vs swinging 24kg (video), the 48kg demands a lot more energy. Same for 68kg (video) ... really high energy demand, as well as strength and stability. You can see that ridiculously heavy bell does not go as high. With a heavy bell, I think you have to be careful not to exceed the alactic energy available in the muscles. You do not want to run on the less-fast fibers and glycolytic energy with that heavy of a weight. With a moderate S&S-type weight, it doesn't matter as much.

Contreras' Swing look okay to me. They meet the objective of overloading the posterior chain, glutes and hamstrings.
I've seen worse, and that IS a lot of weight.... but his spine does not look stable with that load to me, and he does not seem to be getting his power from the hips.
 

Steve W.

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
It's more about where the power comes from, and how brief the force application is.
Well, here's my take (and I think the above comment is very relevant):
As I posted earlier in this thread, there's big difference between a grinding lift and a ballistic lift. The ballistic lift requires tension over a brief time and then you get a float (which is basically the definition of ballistic -- you are launching a projectile). A DL is a grind. You have to sustain tension through a longer time and range of motion. The skills for both overlap (especially with similar hinge patterns like the swing and DL), but are not the same.

A big part of learning to deadlift well is learning to grind--generating high tension and then keeping it turned on long enough to complete the lift. As described in PTTP, your body has a fail-safe reflex that will try to shut the tension down. You have to learn to override this reflex to be disinhibited from expressing your strength. Lighter, more "explosive" swings by themselves don't do this. In fact, they train the opposite--to generate high momentary tension and then quickly shut it off in a rhythm of tight and loose--exactly what you don't want in a heavy DL.

My hypothesis is that heavier swings have a greater carryover to the DL than lighter swings done more "explosively" precisely because they "slower" (ESPECIALLY for a beginning deadlifter). I put "explosively" and "slower" in quotes because both terms conflate multiple parameters, the force/duration of the hip drive, the acceleration of the bell, and the period (total time) for the swing.

In a lighter swing, the force may be high, and the bell may have greater acceleration out of the hole, but the tension turns off quickly and you get a longer float. The bell goes higher, but that just extends the time of the period while the bell is decelerated by gravity. The period of a pendulum is determined by the height it swings to, independent of the weight. In a lighter, "faster" swing, more of the range of motion is passive pendulum motion.

With a heavier bell, the bell will have a lower acceleration, but the force is applied over a longer time. You can't just blast the bell out of the hole--you have to smoothly ramp up the power as the bell swings forward. The tension of the hip drive has to be sustained longer, through more of the range of motion, even if the height of the swing is less.

A lower height may also lead to a shorter period. You don't get as much float time, and have less opportunity to "rest while the dirt is in the air" (to quote S&S). So for an equivalent number of reps, with a heavier bell, you get more sustained time under tension and less relaxed "rest" time. Even if you aggressively "plank up" during the float of a lighter swing, the hip drive is over, and you are already in the lockout position at that point.

I'm not at all surprised that a beginning deadlifter with a strong swing would struggle with DLs once the weight gets a little challenging. The swing might establish a good hinge pattern and a baseline of strength, but does nothing to teach sustained tension and overriding the shut down reflex. I've seen Dan John recommend first learning the DL with a thick bar because you can't gun it off the floor; you have to ease it up smoothly ("ease" not meaning loose or relaxed, but in contrast to an abrupt yank).

For an experienced deadlifter, the calculus might be a little different, since the grinding skill is already established. Personally, I started training the DL after reading PTTP several years before I even knew what a KB was (Pavel had not yet come out with the original RKC book/video and you couldn't find a KB to buy in the US). I think that order of progression was actually beneficial and I'm glad it worked out that way.
 
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Kozushi

More than 2500 posts
I do believe that there is indeed virtual weight being generated with swings, but even if it's something like 500lbs according to the S&S book, it's only for a brief instant, which is totally different from handling this much weight for 5-10 seconds as in a deadlift. As the book says, putting 700lbs on your chest for an instant is annoying but not fatal, but leaving 700lbs on your chest for a while would kill you. Swings are also a different movement pattern and angle of strength from deadlifts. It's just a different animal even if linked in some aspects. Swings are to boot an endurance high-rep tool. From my experimenting with the two moves as a judo wrestler, swings seem to me to be a more practical athletic strength developer, since violent movements and muscular endurance are more important for athletics. The virtual weight of swings got me to 330lbs immediately with deadlifts and then with some training I got up to 370lbs, but these are light for deadlifting for someone my size. Specificity reigns supreme in everything. You want deadlifts, you have to deadlift and if swings you have to swing. I don't confuse S&S and judo either. It's nice to have S&S as a judo wrestler, but I do S&S for its own benefits and judo for its own. There is some crossover effect both ways, but I am pursuing two athletic activities concurrently. I do not do S&S for judo.
 

kennycro@@aol.com

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Was that article published _here_?
The Article

The article was published years ago with another magazine. They omitted information pertinent to the article. I found out after it was published. It appeared the "edited" to fit it on to one page.

If they had notified me, I might have been fit.

(I do proofread sometimes, but that's different than editing - just checking for typos, misspellings, odd punctuation, and the like.)
Proof Reading and Editing Recommendations

Actually, would be open your feed back and suggestions on articles. You go out of your way to be fair; sometimes a bit too far.

You're knowledgeable and break things down well.

Other Options

Posting here and the Blog are nice options.

Thanks,

Kenny Croxdale
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
The article was published years ago with another magazine. They omitted information pertinent to the article. I found out after it was published. It appeared the "edited" to fit it on to one page.

If they had notified me, I might have been fit.
We are not them and they are not us.

-S-
 
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