Hey folks, today I got an article published on TNation on kettlebell swings. Actually, on “Heavy-Ass Kettlebell Swings” (HAKS). Click HERE to read the article. One coach asked me a question on Facebook and I thought it would be nice to answer here on the blog.
Bret, nice article. You said you like the swing better than Olympic lifts and squat jumps for football players. Besides possibly being easier on the joints, what kinds of performance enhancements might we see with the swing over the other said ballistic movements? Do we know of any results/data/case studies that in fact reflect this? – Aaron
I have no results/data/case studies to support my proposal. This answer is purely theoretical as I’m currently not training football players – right now I train a bunch of bikini models out of my condo.
Let me state up front that I think that Oly lifts and jump squats rock and I’m definitely not a “hater.” However, as you know, there are so many great exercises and coaches simply cannot perform all of them. I’d like to mention that I wouldn’t expect for my approach to be significantly superior to other approaches, but whatever you can do for that “extra inch” helps, right?
If I’m a football coach, I’d of course have my guys doing plyos and sprints. We’d also be squatting – probably front squatting. I’d want at least one explosive lift to help bridge the gap between high force and high velocity movements, and Oly lifts, jump squats, and kb swings are each good options. However, since we’d already be doing squats and plyos, I’d nix the jump squats. And I feel that while Oly lifts are excellent power moves, I think the heavy kb swing is easiest to teach/learn, and also the most effective of the bunch for the hips. So the Oly lifts would be nixed too, in favor of the heavy kb swing. This doesn’t mean that we’d never jump squat or Oly lift (or back squat), but the majority of the time we’d probably front squat and heavy kb swing.
– One of Glenn Pendlay‘s guys swinging the 203 pounder –
I actually think that heavy kb swings do pose a fair amount of risk in terms of injury, so it would be very important to provide quality instruction to the athletes. Therefore I wouldn’t expect to see greater of lesser injury rates compared to jump squats and Oly variations. I would predict that Oly lifts and jump squats on their own would be better movements for vertical jump transfer and axial power, but I would predict that heavy swings by themselves would be the best movement for sprinting transfer and anteroposterior power.
However, it’s the combination of lifts that matter, and the combined adaptations imposed from heavy squatting and swinging along with plyos and sprints would be optimal for jumping and sprinting performance in my opinion. But the swings would be heavy and the athletes would learn to swing well.
If a coach went with any combination of back squat/front squat along with power clean/power snatch/heavy kb swing (and tossed in some posterior chain work such as hip thrusts, back extensions, American deadlifts, and glute ham raises), I can’t see him going wrong. As previously mentioned, I don’t think the results using the combo I proposed would be incredibly different than other good combos, for example back squats and power cleans. But personally, I’d probably go with the front squat and heavy kb swing and I’d hypothesize that this approach would lead to slightly greater speed adaptations due to slightly superior hip extension power (with no losses in jumping ability).
Just my two cents! Of course, there’s always the possibility that I’m wrong 🙂