In this post, we are going to dive into the similarities and differences between American kettlebell swings and Russian kettlebell swings (RKC). A few of the most important points to keep in mind include:
- During an American kettlebell swing, your goal is to swing the kettlebell all the way over your head.
- During a Russian kettlebell swing, your goal is to use your hips to drive the kettlebell to the level of your chest.
- An American kettlebell swing usually uses a lighter weight because it goes all the way over your head.
- A Russian kettlebell swing usually uses a heavier weight because you do not lift the kettlebell as far.
So, which kettlebell swing is better? Which one is right for you? Learn more about the different options for performing kettlebell swings below.
What Is A Kettlebell Swing?
The kettlebell swing is a popular exercise among those looking to build their strength and endurance. There are extraordinarily heavy kettlebells that can help you build muscle mass. Then, there are lighter kettlebells that are designed to be swung for a greater number of repetitions, helping you improve your conditioning.
Kettlebells are also an integral part of CrossFit exercises. People perform kettlebell swings, kettlebell thrusters, and kettlebell goblet squats. Therefore, they are an important tool if you want to get the most out of your CrossFit journey.
At the same time, there are multiple ways you can swing a kettlebell.
Some people prefer American kettlebell swings while other people prefer Russian kettlebell swings.
What are the differences between them, and how do you decide which method is best for you?
How To Do The American Kettlebell Swing
If you have flexible shoulders and a light kettlebell, you may want to perform an American kettlebell swing to push your workout a bit further. Before performing an American kettlebell swing, you should make sure your body is warmed up.
The steps in performing an American kettlebell swing include:
- Begin with your feet approximately hip-width apart. Place the kettlebell approximately 2 ft in front of you.
- Bend your knees and pick up the handle of the kettlebell.
- Start by bringing the weight backward slowly between your legs.
- Then, drive your glutes and hips forward to launch the weight into the air.
- Try to avoid pulling on the way with your shoulders.
- Lift the kettlebell until it is all the way above your head.
- Then, bring the kettlebell all the way back along its original path.
- Make sure you have control of the weight. Do not allow it to smash into the floor.
Unlike a Russian kettlebell swing, you will lift the weight all the way over your head. Therefore, you need to have a greater degree of control to prevent hurting yourself or damaging the room. You may want to learn the Russian kettlebell swing before the American kettlebell swing.
You can take a look at a video of someone performing the American kettlebell swing here.
How To Do The Russian Kettlebell Swing
If you spend a lot of time at the gym watching people swing kettlebells, you will probably see them using the Russian method. This is a two-handed kettlebell swing that is used to bring the kettlebell to the level of the chest.
The steps involved in performing a Russian kettlebell swing include:
- Start with your feet approximately hip-width apart. They should also be approximately 2 ft behind the kettlebell.
- Bend your knees slightly, and pick up the horns of the kettlebell.
- Try to keep your shoulder blades back and down. Make sure your spine is neutral.
- Bring the kettlebell back behind you. Try to keep the bottom of the kettlebell above your knees.
- Use your glutes to push your hips forward. Straighten your knees until you stand upright.
- Try not to flex or extend your back as the kettlebell rises to the level of your chest.
- Stabilize the kettlebell and lower it slowly along the same path. Return to the starting position.
These are the basic steps involved in performing a Russian kettlebell swing. You should practice this with lighter kettlebells before you increase the weight. This is a way for you to increase your strength and power.
Take a look at a video of someone performing a Russian kettlebell swing here.
Why Is The American Kettlebell Swing Better?
There are several reasons why the American kettlebell swing is better. They include:
- The American kettlebell swing forces you to lift the kettlebell all the way above your head. Therefore, you will work a wider range of muscles, including the upper body.
- You can get a better workout with a lighter kettlebell.
- You are forced to produce more power to get the ball over your head.
- You can also expand your flexibility and range of motion because of the more comprehensive movement.
For these reasons, the American kettlebell swing might be better.
Related: Comparing dumbell swings to kettlebell swings
Why Is The Russian Kettlebell Swing Better?
There are a few reasons why a Russian kettlebell swing might be better as well. They include:
- Because you usually perform a Russian kettlebell swing with a heavier weight, you generate more explosive power.
- You can still get a good upper body workout without lifting the kettlebell over your head if you use a heavier weight.
- Because you do not have to get the weight all the way over your head, you have a lower chance of hurting yourself or damaging the room.
- You are not sending the ball over your head, so you do not have to worry as much about harming your shoulder joint.
Consider these reasons when deciding if you should perform an American kettlebell swing or a Russian kettlebell swing.
Who Should Do The American Kettlebell Swing?
There are several reasons why you might want to perform an American kettlebell swing. They include:
- If you perform a high volume of heavy snatches, you probably have exceptional shoulder mobility and stability. Therefore, American kettlebell swings might be better for you.
- If you have a lot of experience performing kettlebell swings already, then you may be comfortable lifting the way all the way over your head.
- If you want to generate more endurance with a lighter weight, then you may want to use American kettlebell swings.
Consider performing American kettlebell swings if you enjoy working your shoulders and are looking for some extra conditioning.
Related: Comparing kettlebell swings to deadlifts
Who Should Do The Russian Kettlebell Swing?
There are also several reasons why you might want to perform a Russian kettlebell swing. They include:
- If you have never done kettlebell swings before, you should start with the Russian kettlebell swing before you move to the larger American swing.
- If you want to build more strength, then you should use a heavier weight, which means you may want to perform Russian kettlebell swings.
- Russian kettlebell swings are also ideal for increasing your grip strength because of the heavier weight.
Even though beginners may start with Russian kettlebell swings, you can still build impressive strength and power through Russian kettlebell swings.
Find The Best Kettlebell Swing For You
This is a brief overview of the similarities and differences between American kettlebell swings and Russian kettlebell swings. You can certainly get an exceptional workout with either swing.
American kettlebell swings bring the kettlebell all the way over your head. Russian kettlebell swings usually stop the swing at chest height.
Even though you can do any kettlebell for either swing, Russian kettlebell swings are usually performed with heavier weights than American kettlebell swings. Consider incorporating kettlebell swings into your next workout.