Swing question.

Discussion in 'Kettlebell' started by Grant Taylor, Nov 30, 2019.

  1. Grant Taylor

    Grant Taylor Still New to StrongFirst Forum

    Good evening everybody. My name is Grant and I’m new to all things StrongFirst/Pavel/kettlebell. I have been working through S&S and trying to get the hang of the swing. It has been a process. My big question; is the swing meant to be more of an up and down motion, or more of a forward and backward motion? Obviously it is both, but which takes priority? Hope my question makes sense, and I thank you all for your input!
  2. Bauer

    Bauer More than 500 posts

    That depends a bit.

    It is more up and down in the sense that it is like a vertical jump.

    It is more forward and backward in the sense that it is a hinge and not a squat, i.e. the hips bent a lot and the knees only a bit (whereas in a squat the knees bend much more).

    That being said I believe it is helpful to think of the swing as a "plank as long as you can challenge" and then following the natural curve of the bell swing explosively in the middle just to return to your plank.

    The bell will first force you to hinge at the hips and sit back, but in order to rebound back explosively you will also need to bend your knees and then "jump out of the hole".

    I like this article by @Rif a lot
    An Explanation of the Athletic Hip Hinge | StrongFirst
  3. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Elite Certified Instructor

    Interesting question.

    The knees go forward and back; bent to straight when going from hinge to plank.
    The hips are mostly stationary, though they move slightly up and forward from hinge to plank.
    The torso goes from about 45 degrees forward-leaning to upright.
    The arms go from matching the torso angle to horizontal.
    The kettlebell goes in an up-and-forward arc at the end of the arms.

    So... both, and neither?

    But I would say more of a forward and back motion. You should seek to project power forward, as if you were throwing the kettlebell out in front of you as far as you can.

    Some of my favorite "perfect swing" videos: Tim Almond, Jeff Sokol, Holly & Arryn, Anne Castevens, and here's one of mine (not perfect ;) ).
  4. Grant Taylor

    Grant Taylor Still New to StrongFirst Forum

    Thanks for you’re input everybody. I may just film my swing and ask for critique.
    Anna C likes this.
  5. Molson

    Molson Double-Digit Post Count

    It’s probably neither, or a bit both. Your body and the bell need to do different things for most of the time, so you can’t have a simple answer.

    Way up- explosion to vertical plank (more vertical)
    Way down - hinge back (feels more horizontal, but only at the bottom)

    Way up: slanted, diagonal.
    Way down - free falling arch with a horizontal hike pass on the bottom

    The starting explosion is the only moment your body and bell have shared projection.

    Trough my year with S&S mainly the heavy bells (the ones which feel almost to heavy) helped me realize that a hard style swing bell projection cannot be an arch at the start explosion. It needs to be diagonal. This gives better power production and reduces sheer force on lower spine on the upswing. It needs to be quick and as short as possible.

    The way down is different, it is a free fall and you want to buy yourself is much time by maintaining a free fall arch with a hike pass. This gives you both more rest and loads the glutes the most.
    Abdul-Rasheed and Steve W. like this.
  6. Molson

    Molson Double-Digit Post Count

    This video from Joe Daniels captures quite well what I wanted to say about the bell projection. Although he specifically explains this for snatches and cleans, for me it is the same movement for all three ballistics at this very starting phase.

    Keep in mind that the hardstyle would remain planked feet, what his legs are doing is more GS.

    Abdul-Rasheed and Steve W. like this.
  7. Steve W.

    Steve W. Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    I never think about the swing in the terms of the OP's question (forward and back/up and down). I think about what my body is doing (hinge to plank and plank to hinge) and how it interacts with the bell. When you are learning the swing, do a ton of KB deadlifts to groove the hinge and get a feel for the top and bottom positions of the swing. Once you have the body positions grooved, it's a matter of learning to interact with the bell ballistically -- how to transfer force to the bell to launch it, how to relax to let it float, and how to absorb the force of the bell to load up for the next rep.

    He talks about this drill in terms of activating the triceps on the downswing. But it puts me in mind of one of my most used cues in my own practice, "Arm Down!" This is a cue to keep the arm down and connected to the body out of the hole and through the hip extension into the upswing.

    He holds his arm down into his body against band tension as he goes into and out of the hole. I use the cue "Arm Down!" out of the hole to get better power transfer from the hips, through the torso and shoulder and down to the bell, as well as to prevent pulling with the arm. It's a little counterintuitive because I am thinking arm DOWN while projecting force into the bell to swing it UP. Since the bell is pulling down, the natural tendency is to think about resisting it -- pulling up. This drill with the band puts the tension in the opposite direction. The band pulls up, so you have to actively keep the arm down.

    Keeping the arm down as long as possible, until the hips extend into the plank and momentum carries the arm away from the body into the float, makes a big difference in power transfer. Any time I feel like my power is decreasing and I start thinking about keeping my arm down out of the hole, I get an instant power boost. I find it is equally applicable to swings, cleans and snatches.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
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  8. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    @Grant Taylor, I confess to be a bit surprised by the answers you've received so far. For me, the swing is undoubtedly a horizontal movement pattern, period. I often teach it by having students throw the bell behind them and/or in front of them, and the face that you're holding onto it is the only thing that turns it into more of an arc. Exactly how I hold onto the bell determines whether it's a swing or a snatch, but my focus when the bell coming towards me is loading my hips to the back, and then it's on driving the bell forwards. For a swing, hold on with a straight arm; for a snatch, 'tame the arc' and keep the bell close to your body, finishing with a smooth punch to the overhead lockout position. The hips drive the bell forward; the arm steers the bell either into an arc (swing) or overhead (snatch).

    Grant Taylor likes this.
  9. Jan

    Jan More than 500 posts

    You certainly do that :) Lots of experienced folks here to give you feedback.
    Oh, and welcome to the forum :)
    Grant Taylor likes this.

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