American Kettlebell Swing

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The American Kettlebell Swing

Exercise Video

The American Kettlebell Swing

The American Kettlebell Swing
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The American Kettlebell Swing

Guest video. Full video length: 00:00:59.

Exercise Information

Hip Hinge

The hip hinge is a movement that involves the hip joints. The conventional hip hinge also involves the knees, and the true hip hinge is a stiff-legged hip hinge.

The break at the hip joint and folding forward mimics how a door hinge functions. One part is fixed, which for a door is the wall, and for the exercise are the legs, and the moving part is the torso.

Contrary to what the name might suggest, the hips are not hinge joints. The hip joint is a ball-and-socket type of synovial joint and connects the pelvic girdle to the lower limbs.

There are hip hinge variations that involve a change of stance or a change of bilateral to unilateral.  The bodyweight exercises can be loaded and used in exercises like the deadlift, bent-over row, kettlebell hip hinge swing, snatch, and so on.

Bodyweight Conventional Hip Hinge

The conventional hip hinge is a variation where the knees are added to the movement. It's no longer just a hinge at the hips but also the knees. The knees are added so that two joints, the hips and knees, are the prime movers actioning the movement and moving the weight if any has been added. The bending of the knees also allows the weight to be closer to the center of gravity. Not bending the knees and lifting a weight that can't be supported that far out would result in toppling forward.

Kettlebell Hip Hinge Swing

This kettlebell swing is a swinging movement performed with a hip hinge and that pattern can be performed at different speeds. 

The Hardstyle swing is always performed explosively and with maximum effort, all required attributes for the Hardstyle swing are rigid. 

The freestyle swing can be performed with different attributes. 

The Russian swing is what the swing was named when kettlebells become popular outside of Russia, it is not, however, the first and original swing as one might think. The Pendulum swing is the original Russian-style swing.

The kettlebell swing can be performed with other movements as well and with single or double arm, and single or double kettlebell. The hip hinge has thus far been the most popular and common movement with which the swing is performed, however, that doesn't mean it's the best or the right one for every occasion.

The American Kettlebell Swing is a kettlebell swing variation invented by CrossFit. This variation has been getting a bad reputation because there are often several important foundations that are missing while working with high volume and heavy weight. No exercise is inherently bad, the part that causes issues and injuries is the fact that foundations and progressions are skipped.

This variation of the kettlebell swing that goes overhead requires good shoulder flexibility, stability, and strength. Because both arms are holding on to a short handle the arms are close to each other while overhead. Holding the arms close to each other while overhead with a good straight elbow requires a lot of flexibility, this and other variables are often lacking.

The foundation of the American Kettlebell Swing is the conventional hip hinge swing, if that is not there, which often isn’t, then there will be even more work and load on the shoulders than there already is. This becomes problematic, especially with high volume and heavy load, which is often promoted in CrossFit. And that’s a good thing, but only under the right circumstances.

When performing this as a shoulder raise, it's important to control the weight as a movement that's not decelerated in time has the potential to cause havoc on the shoulders.


RPM

Slow tempo:

20RPM for the Bodyweight Conventional Hip Hinge which is a parent of this exercise.

32RPM for the Kettlebell Hip Hinge Swing which is a parent of this exercise.

20RPM for the American Kettlebell Swing at a fast tempo.

Fast tempo:

32RPM for the Bodyweight Conventional Hip Hinge which is a parent of this exercise.

44RPM for the Kettlebell Hip Hinge Swing which is a parent of this exercise.

24RPM for the American Kettlebell Swing at a fast tempo.


Alternatives

Alternatives for this exercise are:

  1. Kettlebell Hip Hinge Deadlift

Common Mistake(s):

This information flows through from Hip Hinge

  1. Chin to chest/neck flexion

    The chin is close to the chest during any hip hinge movement, for example, a swing, clean, or snatch performed with a hip hinge movement.

  2. Looking at the horizon

    Looking at the horizon in the goal position is a common mistake. It’s only recommended if there are problems with keeping the shoulders back at the bottom position. Strength and flexibility around the scapulae should be developed.

  3. Rounding the back

    A common mistake, especially when trying to create more range than flexibility allows, is to bend/round/arch the back. The shoulders come forward and the upper part of the thoracic spine is crunching.

    This is not a mistake, nor dangerous if done under the right conditions, but in a hip hinge, this is not part of the exercise’s goals.

This information flows through from Bodyweight Conventional Hip Hinge

  1. Bending the ankles and dropping the knees

    A common mistake is to bend the ankles so that the shins are no longer vertical and the knees are coming forward. The ankles are not supposed to be involved in any variation of the hip hinge.

    This is usually done because flexibility/range is lacking and bending the ankles will add some additional range but it can also be because the calf muscles are weak or not properly activated.

This information flows through from Kettlebell Hip Hinge Swing

  1. Chin to chest/neck flexion

    The chin is close to the chest during any hip hinge movement, for example, a swing, clean, or snatch performed with a hip hinge movement.

  2. Shallow backswing

    Not fully bringing the weight all the way back through the legs to where the arms connect with the body.

  3. Shoulder raising the weight

    The weight is raised with the muscles of the shoulders and not with the correct muscles that should move the weight.

American Kettlebell Swing

  1. Chin to chest/neck flexion

    The chin is close to the chest during any hip hinge movement, for example, a swing, clean, or snatch performed with a hip hinge movement.


Also know as: Kettlebell Swing in CrossFit

Parent exercise: Kettlebell Hip Hinge Swing

This is a: Loaded Exercise Variation

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On-page quicklinks:

Exercise Photo Gallery

Hip Hinge

This is the photo gallery from the parent exercise Hip Hinge.

The photos show the conventional and stiff-legged hip hinge.

Photos

This is a collection of photos related to this exercise.

Bodyweight Conventional Hip Hinge

This is the photo gallery from the parent exercise Bodyweight Conventional Hip Hinge.

Side View

This is a collection of photos for the side view of this exercise.

Kettlebell Hip Hinge Swing

This is the photo gallery from the parent exercise Kettlebell Hip Hinge Swing.

Front View

This is a collection of photos for the front view of this exercise.

Side View

This is a collection of photos for the side view of this exercise.

Angled View

This is a collection of photos for the angled view of this exercise.

American Kettlebell Swing

Front View

This is a collection of photos for the front view of this exercise.

Side View

This is a collection of photos for the side view of this exercise.

Angled View

This is a collection of photos for the angled view of this exercise.

Related Workouts or Warm-ups

Form and Technique

This section explains the form and technique for the American Kettlebell Swing exercise.

As a registered member you will be able to evaluate yourself against the technique and record any issues which you can then work on.

Set-Up

Form

  1. Keep the ankles from moving To keep the ankles form moving, both the anterior and posterior muscles need to work isometrically t…
  2. Keep the feet flat on the ground Keeping the feet flat on the ground means that the whole of the foot is working. The toes are workin…
  3. Keep the shins vertical Keeping the shins vertical means keeping them where they are when you stand upright. No movement sho…
  4. Keep the spine aligned The spine consist of the lumbar, thoracic, and cervical region. Bending at the neck (cervical) or an…

Goal

Move the torso toward a horizontal position
Max ROM is defined by the exercise or goal

Hips back and down

Muscles Used:

  1. Agonists and synergists are combined under the umbrella of prime-movers.

    1. Gracilis

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Upper Legs / Medial

    2. Iliacus

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Upper Legs / Medial

    3. Psoas Major

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Hips

    4. Rectus Femoris

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Upper Legs / Anterior

      Muscle group: Quadriceps

    5. Sartorius

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Upper Legs / Medial / Anterior

    6. Tensor Fasciae Latae

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Upper Legs / Lateral

  2. Agonists and synergists are combined under the umbrella of prime-movers.

    1. Adductor Magnus

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Upper Legs / Posterior / Medial

      Muscle group: Adductors

    2. Biceps Femoris Long Head

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Upper Legs / Posterior

      Muscle group: Biceps Femoris, Hamstrings

    3. Gluteus Maximus

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Hips / Posterior

      Muscle group: Gluteals

    4. Gluteus Medius

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Hips

      Muscle group: Gluteals

    5. Inferior Gemellus

      Body Part(s): Lower Body

    6. Semimembranosus

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Upper Legs / Posterior

      Muscle group: Hamstrings

    7. Semitendinosus

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Upper Legs / Posterior

      Muscle group: Hamstrings

  3. The heavier the weight, the more work fixators will need to do. For example, with a bodyweight squat, the fixators don't have to do much work but add load to the exercise and they will work a lot.

    1. Fibularis Brevis

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs

    2. Fibularis Longus

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs

    3. Flexor Digitorum Longus

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs / Posterior

    4. Flexor Hallucis Longus

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs / Posterior

    5. Gastrocnemius

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs / Posterior

      Muscle group: Calves, Triceps Surae

    6. Plantaris

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs / Posterior

    7. Soleus

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs / Posterior

      Muscle group: Calves, Triceps Surae

    8. Tibialis Posterior

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs / Posterior

  1. Agonists and synergists are combined under the umbrella of prime-movers.

    1. Biceps Femoris Long Head

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Upper Legs / Posterior

      Muscle group: Biceps Femoris, Hamstrings

    2. Biceps Femoris Short Head

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Upper Legs / Posterior

      Muscle group: Biceps Femoris

    3. Gastrocnemius

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs / Posterior

      Muscle group: Calves, Triceps Surae

    4. Gracilus
    5. Plantaris

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs / Posterior

    6. Popliteus

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs / Posterior

    7. Sartorius

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Upper Legs / Medial / Anterior

    8. Semimembranosus

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Upper Legs / Posterior

      Muscle group: Hamstrings

    9. Semitendinosus

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Upper Legs / Posterior

      Muscle group: Hamstrings

  2. Agonists and synergists are combined under the umbrella of prime-movers.

    1. Rectus Femoris

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Upper Legs / Anterior

      Muscle group: Quadriceps

    2. Vastus Intermedius

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs / Anterior

      Muscle group: Quadriceps

    3. Vastus Lateralis

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Upper Legs / Anterior

      Muscle group: Quadriceps

    4. Vastus Medialis

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs / Anterior

      Muscle group: Quadriceps

  3. The heavier the weight, the more work fixators will need to do. For example, with a bodyweight squat, the fixators don't have to do much work but add load to the exercise and they will work a lot.

    1. Fibularis Brevis

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs

    2. Fibularis Longus

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs

    3. Flexor Digitorum Longus

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs / Posterior

    4. Flexor Hallucis Longus

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs / Posterior

    5. Gastrocnemius

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs / Posterior

      Muscle group: Calves, Triceps Surae

    6. Plantaris

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs / Posterior

    7. Soleus

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs / Posterior

      Muscle group: Calves, Triceps Surae

    8. Tibialis Posterior

      Body Part(s): Lower Body / Legs / Lower Legs / Posterior

  1. Agonists and synergists are combined under the umbrella of prime-movers.

    1. Biceps Brachii Long Head

      Body Part(s): Upper Body / Arms / Upper Arms / Anterior

      Muscle group: Biceps Brachii

    2. Biceps Brachii Short Head

      Body Part(s): Upper Body / Arms / Upper Arms / Anterior

      Muscle group: Biceps Brachii

    3. Coracobrachialis

      Body Part(s): Upper Body / Arms / Upper Arms / Anterior

    4. Deltoid Anterior Head

      Body Part(s): Upper Body / Arms / Shoulder / Anterior

      Muscle group: Deltoids

    5. Pectoralis Major

      Body Part(s): Upper Body / Chest

      Muscle group: Pectoralis

  2. Agonists and synergists are combined under the umbrella of prime-movers.

    1. Deltoid Posterior Head

      Body Part(s): Upper Body / Arms / Shoulder / Posterior

      Muscle group: Deltoids

    2. Latissimus Dorsi

      Body Part(s): Upper Body / Back

    3. Teres Major

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