If you’re squatting in your kettlebell swing, you’re doing it wrong says Men’s Health magazine. I’m here to tell you that if you’re meant to do a hip hinge swing and are squatting while raising your arms to move the weight, you’re doing it wrong. But, if you’re swinging that kettlebell perfectly with a squat, you’re not doing anything wrong if that’s what you intended to do, and there are plenty of reasons to do it, which I will cover below.
There are people who wrote about the squat swing being wrong and they will defend what they said with their lives. There are people who read what others wrote and blindly take that as gospel. There are people who follow a certain style of training and will not hear of such a thing as a squat swing for the simple reason that its blasphemy. Then there are people who keep an open mind, that’s you, our Cavemantraining following.
At Cavemantraining the concept is, don’t believe a word anyone says, that includes what you read right here. The only way to get the best out of anything is by getting some opinions, process those carefully, try, analyze, process, and repeat. Things change, new information is learned, some things might not have been explained as well (great example here), some context might have been missing, etc. The beauty of this process is that people do things differently, experience things differently, and that’s the only way to truly get the most out of kettlebell training. I learn every day by reading comments from people like yourself, no matter what level you are at, it always brings a new perspective to the table. Okay, enough on that, I could ramble on about this concept for days…
Back to the squat swing. If you are wanting to get the most bang for your buck from a kettlebell swing and are doing for example EMOM (interval training), i.e. you’re looking for that one exercise that raises your heart rate the quickest and the most, because in that minute you want to spike that heart rate for x reps to allow x seconds of rest. Which swing variation would you use? The one that involves the most joints and muscle groups or the one that people are just not familiar with and like to shun because someone says so?
That’s right, you want to use the kettlebell swing variation that involves the most joints and muscle groups because that’s the one most suitable for the intended target goal, and in this case that happens to be the kettlebell squat swing.
Let us not forget something extremely important for beginners. A swing with a squat is easier on the back and thus safer for beginners and it’s also a movement pattern they’re more familiar with. I’ve worked with overweight people that would get more out of the squat swing than the hip hinge swing. It took way fewer cues and corrections to get them to swing with a squat than it would with a hip hinge. Furthermore, the hip hinge could introduce an issue for the back. Note that we first focussed on bodyweight exercises, there is a lot more context to provide here but that would make this article bulkier than it already is.
So, I hear you asking “What about the posterior chain, don’t neglect that”. A squat contains a hip hinge, and a deep squat has a deep hip hinge, so, is one neglecting the posterior chain? As for the back, sure, there will be more resistance on the back (part of the posterior chain) and gluteals with a hip hinge. A hip hinge removes one joint, the ankles, and the torso comes toward the ground. With a squat, the torso stays more upright but you’re still working the hips unless the squat is very shallow.
A hip hinge is of course isolating the gluteal area more, so for explosive glute work, the hip hinge would definately be the best choice. Remember, I’m not here to talk the hip hinge swing down, I’m here to talk the squat swing up and change people’s perception of things.
So, what about explosive power for the gluteals or hip extensors? A squat swing can still be performed explosively, just because most beginners show a slow squat and arm raise when asked to do a kettlebell swing does not mean that someone who knows how to perform the movement can’t get explosive with it. Will a hip hinge isolate the gluteals more for explosive power, absolutely.
Don’t think there is just Hardstyle and Sportstyle either. There is a whole lot more going in between those two, not just the squat swing, but that’s for a book called Master The Kettlebell Swing. Allow me to demonstrate a squat movement for the swing. In the video that follows we’re using a squat movement for the swing and snatch. We used this as an EMOM for our weekly kettlebell workouts.
So, again, there is not just the hip hinge swing for Hardstyle, and there is not just the pendulum swing for Sportstyle. With that said, sportstyle peeps also use a squat swing toward the end of long sets when their back starts to fatigue (or for other reasons). It won’t be many reps (in most cases) but it allows pumping out just a few more reps.
There is so much more than can be said, but let’s wrap this up and provide a summary.
- People that talk down on the squat swing are closed-minded and fixated on one thing
- Open your mind and progress
- The squat swing is only bad if it’s performed incorrectly or for the wrong reasons
- If you’re supposed to be doing a hip hinge swing and are doing a squat swing; you are doing it wrong
- If you’re supposed to be doing a Hardstyle swing and are doing a squat swing; you are doing it wrong
- If you’re supposed to be doing a squat swing and are doing a hip hinge swing; you are doing it wrong
- If you’re asking someone to do a kettlebell swing and don’t specify which variation; you are doing it wrong
- If you’re feeling upset right now; be happy knowing that we get it wrong too (sometimes)
There is more than one kettlebell swing, know what and why you’re doing it! I hope to see you in one of our many online groups/communities to discuss any of this.
Shop for the best kettlebell training knowledge or join our private group where you get access to some of the world’s top kettlebell trainers and learn so much more about the kettlebell and training. Become kettlebell certified online, if you’re interested in becoming the best you can be at kettlebell training, whether for yourself or to teach others.
PS. I’ve reached out plenty of times to the magazine in question and plenty of others that put out incorrect kettlebell information and not one has ever replied.
UPDATE: Some interesting but not unexpected feedback.
If I were to cue someone into a squat it would have a lot more of a drop in the hip. Whatever is going on in that video doesn’t look like a squat to me. I see a hip hinge with some forward knee movement. I couldn’t care less how a person moves to reach their goals. It feels like this is just a way to get people to argue and take sides.
Response. Dear xxx, this is absolutely far from getting people to argue. In fact, it’s the opposite, as it’s people arguing all over the net about seeing people perform a squat swing.
As for what you see in the video, allow me to explain what a squat is. A squat is a movement that involves 3 joints, namely the ankles, knees, and hips. Furthermore, the shoulders stay high and the hips go low. A hip hinge is either 1 or 2 joints, the hips, or the hips and knees. The shoulders come low and the hips stay high. The ankles do not move, hence, the shins stay vertical. What you see in the video is definately a squat, maybe you incorrectly think that only a deep squat is a squat.
Forward knee movement comes from the ankles. Once more, a squat is the number of joints involved and the exercise has different depths. Quarter, half, full, and more ranges in between.
As for not caring how someone reaches their goals, I think we might agree on that one, that is, if you are saying that you’re ok with someone squat swinging to reach the intended goals (for example the ones explained in this article).