Misnaming the American Swing

Swing Types

Does anyone know who started calling the Over Head Kettlebell Swing the American Swing? If so, do you know why anyone started calling it that? I’m asking because I do not know, and I can’t see a correlation between the improperly executed two-handed over head swing and the descriptive term, American.

I suspect that it has some Cold War-esque intention behind it, something to do with Kettlebells being developed and delivered by the Russians (Pavel Tsatsouline or Valery Fedorenko . . . I’m avoiding the debate of who was first by acknowledging both of their contributions, at least in name) but somehow “mistranslated” into the wrong vector of height, stoppage or arc.

Brandon Hetzler, SFG Team Leader, has written the most accurate rebuttal of any perceived “need” to swing the kettlebell over head with both hands in his oversimply titled article, The American Swing. He is certainly not to blame for this unfortunate naming convention, but after reading and agreeing with every word of the article, I again began to ask, Why does anyone/everyone call it the American Swing?

Some movements, techniques & protocols (right or wrong) have nicknames, and at first glance, this peculiar naming convention appears to fall into a similar framework. But, why American? Do all Americans swing this way, aka, incorrectly? Not hardly, not even close.

If we are going to give the Over Head Two Handed Kettlebell Swing a nickname, it should probably be the CrossFit Swing. This suggestion isn’t necessarily a slam on CrossFit or any of its remarkable contributions to the field of Fitness, but the only time & place you see the malignant over head swing is in some relation to CrossFit, whether it be in local boxes or competitions.

It also isn’t very likely that all CrossFitters perform the two-handed swing in the over head fashion, but at the risk of incurring the wrath of The Russells, there are realistically more CrossFitters who perform the swing wrong than Americans . . . which introduces the option that somehow, only American CrossFitters perform the two-handed swing over head & incorrectly. Again, not likely.

Truly, all speculation & suggestion aside, read Hetzler’s assessment of the two-handed kettlebell swing, which he approaches from a movement perspective. No matter what or how we call any particular brand of swing, at the end of the day and all throughout, life is about movement, and our exercises & workouts should enhance, not inhibit, movement.


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