Calling people out

The Kettlebell Swing is NOT a Squat, and You’re an IDIOT! Or are you?

The Kettlebell Swing Is NOT a Squat, You’re an IDIOT!

I too followed along with this trend of calling people out for quite a while, it feels so good to be calling people out, but in some cases, I was thinking to myself “Hell, that looks technically sound to me, but better do what everybody else does”, until I realized that it’s not the squat that’s the problem, but the naming. The Kettlebell Swing Squat Style is a relative of the Turkish Get-up Squat Style, many people don’t know that there is a squat style for the TGU, and when they see you perform it, they’ll be calling you out “That’s not a Turkish Get-up!”, or from the corner of their mouth be whispering “look at that guy, haha”. If only they knew that there actually exists a Turkish Get-up Squat Style and there is also a Swing Squat Style!

part of the problem at hand is that some people are not kettlebell educated, and doing something completely different than what they think they’re doing, it’s not always the movement itself that’s the problem ~ Taco Fleur

Enough is enough

Enough is Enough.

“A Kettlebell Swing can be a Squat or a Hip Hinge” There, I said it, and I know it’s going to ruffle some feathers! But it’s really as simple as that, it’s possible to swing a kettlebell with a squatting movement, and it’s perfectly ok! It is NOT ok to turn a SWING into a shoulder raise and to use the back (erector spinae) to power the swing. What is clear cut, is that the shoulders should not raise the kettlebell(s) in a swing, as it’s simply not a swing anymore, but becomes a shoulder raise exercise. For the exercise to be a swing, the arms should function like a pendulum and do nothing but hold on to the weights.

Performing a kettlebell swing squat style does not make you a bad trainer, performing an incorrect kettlebell swing squat style makes you a bad trainer. Performing a kettlebell swing ‘any’ style powered by the shoulders makes you a bad trainer ~ Taco Fleur

Here is the thing, the Hip Hinge is the movement pattern with which the Russian Swing was made popular, and anything that did not feature this movement was considered BAD, but no more. The squat version is ONLY bad when it’s performed incorrectly and becomes damaging to the person performing the movement, if it’s done correctly, guess what? You’re simply working and powering the movement with a different muscle group, is that so bad? Granted, it can be bad when you’re doing a high amount of kettlebell swings, using your shoulders and erector spinae to power the move; because your shoulders and erector spinae are more than likely not conditioned to perform this move one hundred times and avoid getting injured. Is there anything wrong with a shoulder raise? Nothing wrong with it if performed correctly with the appropriate weight and the right amount of repetitions, just don’t call it a swing.

A Kettlebell Swing that looks like a squat, is NOT bad, I repeat, is_not_bad, it is simply a Kettlebell Swing Squat Style, assuming that the squat style is executed correctly and the arms are used as a pendulum. It’s wrong when the person should be performing the hip hinge style but is performing the squat style because their gluteus maximus is too weak to power the movement in the hip hinge. One way to see if the shoulders are being used is when you spot the kettlebell drooping at the top of the swing, if the kettlebell looks like an extension of the arm, it’s more than likely that the swing was powered properly by the lower body.

An exercise named Kettlebell Swing that has someone doing shoulder raises is not necessarily bad if they intended to work the shoulders. It is however incorrectly named and should be named a “Shoulder Raise”, “Squat and Shoulder Raise” or “Hip Hinge and Shoulder Raise” depending on what they’re doing.

So what should we do now that we can’t call people out anymore? Get a life?! We should educate people correctly. If they do a squat instead of a hip hinge, tell them that the exercise should be called “Kettlebell Swing Squat Style”, if they’re listing the muscle groups worked as the posterior chain, pull them up on it, and explain that it’s a mix of posterior and anterior.

Main Differences

During the down phase of the Hip Hinge Style of the swing, the weight is guided more toward the back, whereas with the Squat Style, the weight is guided more toward the ground.

During the up phase of the Hip Hinge Style of the swing, the weight is propelled more toward the front, whereas with the Squat Style, the weight is propelled more toward the ceiling.

With the Hip Hinge Style, the gluteus maximus mainly powers the swing, whereas, with the Squat Style, the quadriceps also start powering the swing.

With the Hip Hinge Style, the torso comes more toward the ground, whereas with the Squat Style, the torso stays more upright.

With the Hip Hinge Style, the hamstrings get a good dynamic stretch on each rep, whereas with the Squat Style the hip flexors get more of a stretch.

With the Hip Hinge Style, the knees constantly remain above the ankles, whereas with the Squat Style, the knees move forward and back.

Correct Naming

If it’s a Kettlebell Swing performed with a squat, name it Kettlebell Swing Squat Style.

If it’s a Kettlebell Swing performed with a hip hinge, name it Kettlebell Swing Hip Hinge Style.

If it’s a Kettlebell Swing performed with a shoulder raise, educate them and call it a Kettlebell Shoulder Raise (it’s no longer a swing).

If it’s a Kettlebell Swing performed with a shoulder raise, powered by the erector spinae, rounded shoulders, elbows bent, feet too far apart, well… let’s call it a crock of shit.

What not to do with the Squat Style?

  • don’t turn it into a deep squat
  • don’t turn it into a slow movement without the explosiveness
  • don’t lose form, keep the same tight and active posture as with the hip hinge
  • don’t turn it into a bad squat, the same principles as normal squatting apply

So, next time someone calls you out on your Kettlebell Swing Squat Style (performed immaculately and technically sound) then show them this article

Calling people out

Or just copy and paste

Hey Ignoramus, remember that time you called me out on my kettlebell swing squat style? Have a read you weapons-grade douchebag

To avoid any confusion about my standpoint and the objective of this article, I want to make it clear that I firmly believe that any novice should be learning the Conventional Kettlebell Swing before anything else.

Related article: Kettlebell Sport Swing is a Squat!? Squat vs Hip Hinge, True Definition of the Squat and Hip Hinge Exercise

5 thoughts on “The Kettlebell Swing is NOT a Squat, and You’re an IDIOT! Or are you?”

  1. Teach it right.

    Wrong. A swing CANNOT be a squat.

    Power is generated from the hinge in the swing. If someone attempts to squat into a swing, they will not draw enough force necessary to elevate the bell without using their arms to assist.

    Instead of letting people do it the wrong way, just show the how to properly do a swing.

    1. You see, that’s what you think, because you’ve been told so many times, but have you tried it? I have, and you can generate power to get the kettlebell up without using the shoulders. I’m assuming you’re too scared to leave your real contact details because you know you’ll be proven wrong.

      1. As an instructor Imo I would prefer teaching the hinges swing to beginners, I feel less chance of the shoulder raise. I’m not a fan of squat and swing but realize of all the things that can go wrong with a swing that is the least of it.i just don’t like bring that bell below the knees. Again this is my prefrenc, but understanding circumstances might prevent someone from this and a work around might be needed. Thanks for the article

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