Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The RKC hip snap; a gymnasts tap swing in reverse.

I was sitting in the sun warming these old bones thinking about, well, what else but training when I realized the the kb hip snap is just a gymnasts tap swing in reverse. The variances of position, stretch, speed and acceleration change, like the gymnasts, according to how much speed and force the athlete wants to produce.

When a gymnast swings around a hi bar, or the rings or does basic swings on parallel bars he shapes his body depending on how much stretch on the flexors that he wants. If he is casually doing giants on hi bar there is almost no pressing forward of the hips as he hits bottom as he has all the momentum necessary to carry him back over the top to the next handstand position and another giant swing or an easy skill.
If he is doing a very hard skill, say a big dismount and he needs to create momentum and speed for maximum height over the bar he shapes his body a much different way.Instead of remaining just slightly hollow he pikes( flexes the hips ) as he comes over the top to speed up the giant; then strongly extends his hips as he gets to the bottom of the swing. How strongly depends on the force needed.
The extension puts the hip flexors and abs on a serious stretch setting up a serious contraction as he then forcefully pikes his hips, and, at the right time, drives back on the bar and creating maximum lift for a release skill or dismount. This is called a tap swing and its easy to see as the gymnast 'winds' themselve up for big moves.
The girevik does the same thing, just the opposite and in reverse.The gymnasts hands are anchored and the feet and legs swing around them. The gireviks feet are anchored and his or her hands and arms swing around them.
The girevik sits back and stretch the hip extensors instead of the flexors. How deeply and sharply depends on the amount of force desired for the swing. snatch or H2H movement. He or she can sit back just a little and create a small amount of force and momentum or sit back sharply and deeply, creating a serious muscle and joint stretch elliciting a serious stretch reflex and maximum force and velocity.
This 'overspeed' eccentric motion is, I beleive, one of the things that can help the deadlift more than almost any other assistance movement as this fast eccentric loading of the posterior chain is very hard to come by. Especially for any type of volume.
Another reason I took to kettlebells so quickly, I recognized the swing pattern similarity between it and gymnastics right away. Home again.


Doubledouble13 said...

Interesting comparison. I've never tried kettlebells but from what I've seen, kettlebell swings look more painful than tap swings :-) I would like to try them some day but I actually can't squat enough right now to pick up anything heavy (I'm working on it though). Do you think kettlebells are easier on the body (than tap swings) or about the same?

Mark Reifkind said...


you dont have to be able to squat, especially not anything heavy to use a kb. thats the beauty of it. if you can pick up 18 0r 26 pounds you can swing.
kbs are way easier on the body than tap swings.