Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Swing's the Thing

Tracy,The Queen of Swing

Great post by Brett Jones on his blog, which I have stolen so all can learn from :))

Applied Strength
Strength, Kettlebells, Health, Fitness, and a balanced approach
Sunday, January 06, 2008

Question of the day...Swing height? How high and why?Swings are the center of the RKC universe as Rif has so eloquently stated and as such they are essential to master. One of the recurring questions is how high to swing the Kettlebell during swings. My answer is - between waist and shoulder height with an "ideal" of chest to shoulder high.The swing is about projection of energy not elevation of energy.
So if I feel like putting a kettlebell overhead I will snatch it not swing it. Can you swing to the top? Sure - as long as you got there by projecting the kettelbell along its arc of movement and did not "lift" the kettlebell to the top. But most people will begin to lift instead of swing and miss the point of the exercise.In the swing the movement is more important than the motion - meaning a short, crisp hip snap will provide far more benefit than an incomplete hip snap with a lift of the kettlebell with the arms.
Try doing a "progressive" swing where you start with shorter hip motions (but always finish the hips) and gradually over several reps increase the amount of hip motion and kettlebell motion. See where your "best" swings are occuring. I am willing to bet it will be at chest to shoulder level.
And here are three more tips to improve your swing:Tip #1 - Connect the arms to the body
Stand straight and tall like you have finished a swing and hold your arms out in front of you at shoulder level - now bring the arms down so they connect to your body and are tight against your ribs. Leave your arms there and push your hips back like you are at the bottom of a swing and then reverse the movement with the hips leaving the arms on the ribs until the hips bump the arms off.
Tip #2 - Hike the kettlebell
If you have connected the arms to the body as described above then hiking the kettlebell will come naturally. On the descent with the KB do not let it pull away from you toward the ground but rather connect the arms to the body and hike it back behind you high and tight in the groin.Tip #3 - Hips lead the race
Once you have connected the arms to the body and hike passed the kettlebell you begin the swing by extending the hips. Obvious - however, you should finish the hip snap/extension long before the kettlebell reaches the top of the swing. And once th kettlebell is decending again and you have reconnected the arms to the body - it is the hips that push back first. Put the hips at the lead of the hip extension and the push back (once the arms have reconnected) and you will gain power and coordination with the swing.Once you have mastered these tips on the swing try implementing them on your snatches and see if you don't get a great carryover.
And my upcoming workshops...Jan 26-27 FMS workshop in PittsburghRegister on (go to courses and workshops and you will see the dates mentioned for an FMS workshop)email me at with any questions.February 1 Secrets of the Shoulder workshop at the Sporting Club in La JollaEmail Paul David - for details and to register.February 2 Intermediate Kettlebell workshop at Iron Core in San Diego

read more of MRKC Brett Jones's wisdom on his blog:


Chris said...

Rif - that was a useful post.

One quick question - in her swing videos - including the one she posted today - Tracy often seems to bend her elbows. it is not so much the height of the swing that I notice in her videos but this elbow bend.

It is not in any way a criticism, just an observation.

Mark Reifkind said...

yeah, she has always done that. Certain people do, Mike Castro, Kenneth jay and other. I used to on my two handed swings til I noticed it was making my biceps tighter.As Brett wrote,the swing is about projection,not elevation so as soon as the force is transmitted through the body to the bell and it starts to 'float'its not as important how you stay connected to it.
I dont teach it this way but once you get past the basic stage everyone finds their own unique groove.
for instance,in my swing I hardly bend my knees at all and my hips stay very high. just my own idiosycracies.
tracy's swing is all about the hips snap.

Chris said...

Thanks Rif - that was helpful. Like I said no criticism - I was just interested in your thoughts.


Chris said...


in the crossfit post today (here), they have avideo of Jeff Martone demonstrating the swing.

Anyway, his elbows bend too