Why We Prefer the Hardstyle Swing

Written by Gray Cook FMS Pod Casts

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  • What is the difference between a hardstyle swing and an overhead swing? 
  • A swing is a powerful representation of how the hips and core should would work together effortlessly to unload the arms. 
  • Overhead swing:
    • Everything that happens between horizontal and overhead is wasted motion.
    • The majority of people employ lumbar hyperextension and forward head movement in order to complete an overhead swing. 
    • DO NOT lose the plank position in order to get overhead.
  • The same amount of power is generated with a hardstyle and overhead swing.
  • A hardstyle swing is a safer more efficient way to train power and metabolism and create a platform for advanced kettlebell lifts or sports specific skill. 

This clip was originally posted as part of an interview on RdellaTraining.com.

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  • author

    schwan 8/28/2015 5:32:05 PM

    Hi there! Thanks for the great talk. Yet, I have a question regarding the energy. I used to do the hard style swing. You can watch it here: http://youtu.be/STMPRGtitUs

    Yet when I changed one day to he overhead swing I could see how much more difficult that was. I was already exhausted after 20 swings. 
    Now I think, and I am by far no expert nor am very certain if I have a great mobility, that my swig (the hard style) is ok and I do believe that my overhead is also ok. So how would you explain the more earlier exhaustion in performing the overhead swing and could you please post the paper on the comparison of the overhead swing with the hard style? Thanks so much in advance, schwan

  • author

    Nick Delaney 9/2/2015 5:56:42 PM

    Why is it "harder"?

    Probably partially because it's new and different. 
    Mostly though, because the weight moves further, the time per rep is longer, so, more energy per set of say 20 reps. Also, you have to shift gears and engage some different upper body patterns and muscles which is still work, but either overtaxes those parts because your hips can handle more weight, or undertaxes them because gravity can take most of the muscle demands away.
    However, peak "power" is going to be the same at your critical strength building moments, because you start and stop motion against the same resistance.
    So you won't get stronger, doing overhead swings vs hardstyle, but might get more tired.

    In addition to the thoracic and shoulder mobility and control required to control overhead movements, if you draw a free body diagram of a swing, you'll notice that the weight travels in a circle and that as it approaches the 90deg - it will have a centrepidal force away from you which creates a shear force line on your lumbar spine. For low resistances that operate in a rep range that stops before exhaustion, there's no risk for injury in a healthy body. But, your limits to your exercise will be what your low back can handle rather than what your hips can thrust and control. Either you won't be able to lift enough to strengthen your muscles and tax your hip thrust/catch pattern, or you'll have to perform the movement long enough (with low weight) that your core stability/or focus fails and you find the straw that tweaked the camel's back.
    Thrust power and stability are the goals of the exercise, so sticking to the hardstyle and progressing your resistance will get you better results. If you want the exhaustion and fitness upped, consider more reps or super-setting a complimentary up-tempo exercise right after your swing. An ab-wheel, hand-walkout, push-press (my preference- for appropriate clients), burpee, push-ups, 3-limb plank, are examples of hundreds of options, depending on, first the client, and second where you want to go with the workout. If you really want to hit that area, jump squats, single leg hops, side hops, lateral bandwalks, step-ups, gob squats, lunges are all good and, there's tones more options still.

    "Why not just do the snatch?" 
    (If you can.)
    Is probably a sufficient point too.

  • author

    Josh Gray 9/2/2015 5:55:45 PM


    Based on your video link, I would suggest you seek guidance and instruction from an SFG instructor prior to engaging in any overhead work or continuing with your swings. There is a great article on the StrongFirst website which delves into the two swings entitled  "The American Swing".  If you are going to take a swing to the overhead position, learn the snatch from a qualified instructor.