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View Full Version : Any thoughts on this article - Less snatches, more swings


Grissim Connery
11-29-2010, 09:57 AM
http://www.dragondoor.com/articler/mode3/597/?c=pbp-214&utm_nooverride=1

The Snatch: Not an "Advanced" Swing
Max Shank, RKCII

No matter what your goal, sport, or athletic ability is, you should be doing kettlebell swings.

A quick rundown of what the swing does:

* It trains hip extension, which is the foundation of all athletic movements.
* It stretches the hip flexors and strengthens the glutes. This is especially important when you consider that the entire population is, by evolutionary standards, sedentary. We sit too much. Swings help fix the problems caused by too much sitting down. In fact, a swing could be looked at as the OPPOSITE of sitting down.
* It strengthens the lower back as a stabilizer rather than a dynamic flexor/extender (which could cause deterioration of the discs)
* It teaches the abs to brace against dynamic force making them stronger without creating bad movement patterns (as many conventional ab exercises do)

I could go on, but I digress...

You'll notice in the list above the one thing I didn't mention was anything about the upper body. Shoulder stability is a side effect of a good swing, not the main focus. My biggest problem with the kettlebell swing, is that as SOON as someone learns the snatch, they substitute swings for snatches… And I HATE it.

The problem, I think, stems from the fact that the snatch is technically more difficult to learn initially which makes people think of it as an "advanced" swing -- and everyone is advanced right!?? It's not.

It's not.

It's not.

It's not.

Why you should choose the swing over the snatch in your training:

* You can do more swings at a faster cadence--this means more work for your legs
* You can use a heavier weight.
* Less variables. This is key because it lets you focus on the hip extension (which is the main goal as well as part of a good snatch anyway).

Here's the funny thing; even if your goal is to snatch more, you should swing.

An example:
In preparation for a number of Tactical Strength Challenge and RKC Certifications that require a high number of snatches, I did almost no snatches, nor did I practice the tests. I did put in time initially to practice snatch technique, but that is the extent of it in my training, once my technique was down, it was back to swings. The result of this??? I have won every TSC I have competed in, my best score on the snatch being 111 reps in 5:00 with the 70-pounder, and I can easily pass the RKC snatch test standard of 100 reps in 5 minutes.

Interval training seems to work best for this, take a sample training session I did as part of my preparation for RKC Level II:

Bottom up Press:10x1
Pullup: 10x3
One arm swing 48kg on the :30 x 10 reps. 20 swings per minute, close to a 1:1 work:rest ratio. For 5 minutes. That's 100 swings.
Hanging leg raises to finish.

This finisher is far more demanding than 100 snatches with a 24kg--double swings could work well here too--and it will give you great explosiveness in the hips. If you throw in some finisher like this once or twice a week, you will be amazed at how everything you do starts to feel lighter and easier.

The next time you plan to snatch for high reps try this instead;
10 minutes of swings :15/:15 work/rest ratio with a 32kg and hit 10 reps/set and see how you feel.

More swings.

Trust me.

Snatches aren't bad, swings are just better.

Derek Weaver
11-29-2010, 06:43 PM
I saw this article a little while ago and didn't put much thought into it.

Makes sense to an extent. Swings are the foundational movement wrt to KB work.

I like doing snatches, but I've also had some instruction, and am pretty careful not to tear up my hands or bang my forearms once fatigue sets in. I see this article being analogous to the somewhat common PL argument for not doing the DL much. No reason to put so much into a lift that can take so much away if you can get improvement from other lifts and movements.

Donald Lee
11-29-2010, 09:24 PM
The Swing may be more useful than the Snatch, but his argument isn't very persuasive if you break it down.

- Training hip extension and training the glutes aren't really all that different.
- I'm not sure you really want to use a dynamic exercise like the Swing to stretch your hip flexors. If you have hip flexor tightness, there are probably a lot of other things you should be doing before you ever use the Swing to stretch your hip flexors.
- Many exercises strengthen the lower back as a stabilizer vs. a dynamic flexor/extender (Is extender a made-up anatomical term?). The Swing is great from your lower back, but not really for the reason he wrote.
- A heavier weight does not necessarily mean better. Heavier weights bias toward more strength-speed while lighter weights bias towards more speed-strength.
- Why do you need to focus more on hip extension?

James Evans
11-30-2010, 08:01 AM
Remember the kettlebell obsessive deliberately limits the tools available. The Party insisted. Most people here choose to have more weapons at their disposal.

However, swings = good.

Jarod Barker
11-30-2010, 11:09 AM
Like Derek said, the swing is the foundation of KB work.

In my opinion, the swing has more carry over than the snatch. I mean, truly, the KB snatch is just a KB snatch, it's not like you'll learn to snatch a barbell practicing the KB snatch. However, repeatedly drilling that hip extension with the KB swing could carry over into other movements that require an explosive hip extension. I'm not saying the swing will teach you to clean, jump, or snatch, but just simply that the hip extension of KB swings could create some muscle memory that might make learning or developing other movements easier and faster.

I know that's not his argument at all, but it was just my immediate thought when I saw the title of the thread.

As for the argument, from a conditioning perspective, swings are better. I've gotten out of breath doing swings. It's hard to get out of breath doing snatches. Doing snatches, my strength fails before my conditioning does, so I'm limited by the fact that I'm weak rather than being limited by needing to slow down and catch my breath.

Donald Lee
11-30-2010, 02:46 PM
Like Derek said, the swing is the foundation of KB work.

In my opinion, the swing has more carry over than the snatch. I mean, truly, the KB snatch is just a KB snatch, it's not like you'll learn to snatch a barbell practicing the KB snatch. However, repeatedly drilling that hip extension with the KB swing could carry over into other movements that require an explosive hip extension. I'm not saying the swing will teach you to clean, jump, or snatch, but just simply that the hip extension of KB swings could create some muscle memory that might make learning or developing other movements easier and faster.

I know that's not his argument at all, but it was just my immediate thought when I saw the title of the thread.

As for the argument, from a conditioning perspective, swings are better. I've gotten out of breath doing swings. It's hard to get out of breath doing snatches. Doing snatches, my strength fails before my conditioning does, so I'm limited by the fact that I'm weak rather than being limited by needing to slow down and catch my breath.

The Swing is very different from the Olympic lifts, unless you're doing them the way Rip prescribes.

Also, being limited by strength probably means you need to lower the weight if you want the desired conditioning effect.

Derek Weaver
11-30-2010, 03:29 PM
Donald,
I'm not sure I get what you mean wrt swing vs. oly lifts. They are certainly different, was anyone noting that they're not?

Agreed though that if strength is the limiting factor when using a conditioning tool, then lower the weight, or get stronger, or both.

Donald Lee
11-30-2010, 05:04 PM
Donald,
I'm not sure I get what you mean wrt swing vs. oly lifts. They are certainly different, was anyone noting that they're not?

Agreed though that if strength is the limiting factor when using a conditioning tool, then lower the weight, or get stronger, or both.

I think Chad was saying that the motor pattern of the Swing was beneficial to the Olympic lifts, in terms of the hip extension. The motor pattern of the KB Snatch is much closer to that of the Olympic lifts. I'm not saying that the Swing can't be used to teach hip extension for the Olympic lifts, but that the motor pattern doesn't really match the Olympic lifts.

Hopefully, I didn't make something out of nothing. I'm saving my critical reading abilities for other endeavors at this time.

Derek Weaver
11-30-2010, 05:40 PM
I get that. With this quote, I see how it could be construed. Don't mean to think for Chad, but this one could conceivably be taken more than one way.

I'm not saying the swing will teach you to clean, jump, or snatch, but just simply that the hip extension of KB swings could create some muscle memory that might make learning or developing other movements easier and faster.

I remember a Strength Coach Podcast with Jonathan Chaimberg (sp?), the strength coach to GSP and other top MMA fighters noting that he wasn't a huge fan of KBs, but that they did teach double extension well. Swings aren't much for teaching extension at the ankles, but they are beneficial for teaching the extension of the hip and knee.

In the end though, you're better off teaching someone how to jump before they touch a barbell or a KB. And, if you have to teach someone how to jump, they're f'ed and aren't notable athletes anyway.

Donald Lee
11-30-2010, 05:50 PM
Swings aren't much for teaching extension at the ankles, but they are beneficial for teaching the extension of the hip and knee.

I'm not very familiar with KB practice or literature, but I don't think the Swing should have very much active knee extension.

Grissim Connery
12-01-2010, 12:10 PM
I like the input. My curiosity surrounds conditioning primarily. Although KBs can get blurry between strength and conditioning, i typically envision OL for strength and KB for conditioning.

with that said, i normally just think of the snatch as double the distance of a swing. in that case, i'm making the weight roughly twice as hard. this seemed beneficial when i had a single 1 pood, 1.5 pood, and 2 pood. i recently got a pair of 1.5's and a pair of 2 poods. now that i really do have the option to do heavy swings, i debated which to focus on.

Peter Dell'Orto
12-01-2010, 05:34 PM
now that i really do have the option to do heavy swings, i debated which to focus on.

Is there a need for a focus?

I ask because my coach has me do both without really emphasizing one over the other. I program them myself for myself and other people by splitting swings into a primarily lower-body/hip dominant explosive movement and snatches into a more full-body explosive movement. I don't see them overlapping so completely, or interfering with one another enough that you'd need to focus on one over the other.

I might just be missing why you want to focus though, which is why I'm asking. What's driving the need to make one more important in your training than the other?

Jarod Barker
12-01-2010, 07:13 PM
I get that. With this quote, I see how it could be construed. Don't mean to think for Chad, but this one could conceivably be taken more than one way.



I remember a Strength Coach Podcast with Jonathan Chaimberg (sp?), the strength coach to GSP and other top MMA fighters noting that he wasn't a huge fan of KBs, but that they did teach double extension well. Swings aren't much for teaching extension at the ankles, but they are beneficial for teaching the extension of the hip and knee.

In the end though, you're better off teaching someone how to jump before they touch a barbell or a KB. And, if you have to teach someone how to jump, they're f'ed and aren't notable athletes anyway.

Thanks Derek, I was referring to the extension. I was taught to do kettlebell swings just like I'm jumping, so it's the same hip extension. Instead of throwing the hips forward to swing the weight, I try to jump vertical. This seems like a good conditioning option to me because you can string them together and really get some momentum, and if I may refer back to another thread, everyone was just saying how doing multiple box jumps for metabolic conditioning was dangerous and detrimental for you knees, so stringing together kettlebell swings with a jumping style swing may be a good substitution for box jumps. Plus, you can always go up in weight and make it strength biased as well.

James Evans
12-02-2010, 03:45 AM
Pavel reduced the movement pool for Enter the Kettlebell. I think this is a good thing from the point of view that everyone wants to do the sexy special exercises and learn the secretz before they master the basics.

Swings are very good (as I said above).

Snatches are great but elbows/hands can take a bashing.

Do not abandon swings for teh sexy special exercises.

Do not use the kb as a foothold into the world of Oly lifting.

Do not overthink the conundrum: do I swing? do I snatch? do I go heavy? do I go light?

Do it all.

Heavy swings for sets of 8s - lighter swings for reps or 15/15s or 30/30s - heavy swings and sprints. All good.


PS I like some of that Kenneth Jay VO2 Max stuff (although Viking Conditioning is a silly title). Haven't done enough of it to decide whether it will transform you into a ripped cardio machine ready to rape & pillage across the east coast of England but it does show you what you can do with a 16kg kb.

Grissim Connery
12-02-2010, 06:37 AM
Is there a need for a focus?

I ask because my coach has me do both without really emphasizing one over the other. I program them myself for myself and other people by splitting swings into a primarily lower-body/hip dominant explosive movement and snatches into a more full-body explosive movement. I don't see them overlapping so completely, or interfering with one another enough that you'd need to focus on one over the other.

I might just be missing why you want to focus though, which is why I'm asking. What's driving the need to make one more important in your training than the other?

it's just really a time issue. although bjj is my primary focus, i find that most of my training benefits come from gymnastics work and jump roping. i squat now pretty regularly, and try to fit in DL and OL where it can go. thus fitting in KB can be difficult timewise, and i don't want a plethora of kb exercises. i know 2 exercises isn't that many, but a lot of times i just want to do one so i can get out of the gym faster (i spend way too much time in there anyways).

this is partially just because i'm having trouble coming up with a good split. i had been trying to make the split based on exercises, but now i'm seeing that basing upon equipment used makes things go way faster. i'm lookin at a 5 day cycle spread across 1.5-2 weeks. if it works out, i'll have a whole day of just kb and some gymnastic statics. then i'll snatch and swing to my hearts content.

i may add jumping over pumpkins per gant's recommendations.

James Evans
12-02-2010, 08:06 AM
i may add jumping over pumpkins per gant's recommendations.

Gant's starting a cert. He's not cheap mind.

Do you think the gymnastic stuff does the trick? If so why fix something that isn't broke?

Grissim Connery
12-02-2010, 09:32 AM
yeah, i kinda have trouble with that issue. i see BB's as way more superior to KB in developing lower body strength, and gymnastics as more superior than KB for upper body strength. KB has a nice middle ground and is great for time constraints. i admit that i have time constraints, but i enjoy gymnastics and BB's too much so i want to keep at them.

concerning conditioning, bjj gives plenty of metcon type training, and the only real outside condition i have to do frequently is LSD with jump ropes (about 30 min 3x/wk). if i do metcon type conditioning, KB can be fine, but honestly the crossfit workout "cindy" is all i really need (adjusting the 20min time to 10 min or whatever i'm feeling).

now i believe that KB are a great tool, but i feel that i already have some other tools that works better for each training requirement i need.

the 2 things that make me want to keep using KB are
1. i own them
2. they're fun (especially the fancy stuff)

what do you guys think?

James Evans
12-03-2010, 03:12 AM
Ok, how about something like this:

Week 1

Day 1 (Mon)

Strength - Deadlift/TGU

Day 2 (Wednesday)

Condition - Cindy type stuff/KB conditioning work

Day 3 (Sat)

Strength - Gymnastic work

Week 2

Day 4 (Tuesday)

Condition - Cindy type stuff/KB conditioning work

Day 5 (Thurs/Fri)

Strength - Clean/Snatch/Gymnastics for upper body

Repeat for 2 week blocks


Robb wrote an article for PM a few years back about fight training and the basic template he was using for strength (as I recall) was a circuit of low rep:

DL
Ring Dip
Ring Pull Up

Think you could do well on that. Add in some swings (eg 3 sets of 15) as a warm up or maybe as a finisher. Or a set of 5 TGUs on each arm as a finisher.

Peter Dell'Orto
12-03-2010, 06:19 AM
the 2 things that make me want to keep using KB are
1. i own them
2. they're fun (especially the fancy stuff)


That's two good reasons to use them. Especially the second. I'll take "fun and effective" over "effective" every time. :)

I'd personally just use one movement as accessory work each time. DL followed by swings one time, DLs followed by KB snatches or cleans another, stuff like that. If it's just accessory work, there isn't a need to prioritize, so just mix it up and enjoy it. I doubt your BJJ will suffer if you do swings half the time and snatches the other half instead of making one a priority over the other.

Grissim Connery
12-03-2010, 01:21 PM
The new program i was thinking of is as so:
Note: Although this may not help BJJ that much, my primary S&C goal is to improve my planche and FL

Day 1:
- Squat (generally 5x5)
- Planche and FL work
--- 5x15sec holds of current progression
--- 5x5 assistance exercise (OA pushup, weighted deadhang pullup)
- Jumprope - 30min

Day 2:
- Ring work
--- cross holds - 5x 10-15s of current angle in progress
--- support holds - superset with cross holds
--- 5x5 RTO dips
--- BL - 5x15s holds of current progression
--- ice cream makers - 5x5 with current FL progression @ horizontal
- Repeat planch and FL work + assistance (substitue RTO ring pushups for OApushups)
- 30 min jump rope

Day 3:
- CJ 3x3, 3x1
- DL (generally 5x5)
- repeat planche and FL work + assistance
- 30 min jump rope

Day 4:
- HS work
--- 5x1min holds stomach to wall
--- 5 x handstand walks for distance
--- various presses to HS from floor or handbalancing platform
- repeat planche and FL work + assistance exercises
- jump rope 30 min

Day 5:
KB
--- still devising exercise selection scheme; i'm looking at swings, TGU, and OH lunges (because i've got some wack balance issues between my legs)
Cindy: 10-12 minutes long

The hardest thing to place is actually the DL. I'm not sure where to fit it. Also, i'd like to remove the assistance work for the planche and FL from day 2, but then it's annoying to hang the rings up on another day just to do one exercise.