Is It Safe to Swing a Kettlebell? / by JIllian Marshall

Kettlebells look badass, and according to the fitness gurus and health scientists alike, they are just as good for your body. But how exactly do you use one anyway? Everyday 100 new people innovate a new use for this dynamic piece of equipment on Youtube and Pinterest, but not every innovation is safe. If you Google 'Kettlebell', you will find that there is an overwhelming amount of ways to use the weight, and endless ways to hurt yourself. Kettlebell? More like Kettle-hell. But the confusion should not scare you away from this dynamic piece of fitness gold. Check out the different stances on technique so you can navigate your way though the Kettlebell debate and out of Kettlebell purgatory.

The Great Kettlebell debate started like the cold war, in a classic "Russia vs the US" stand off. The modern Kettlebell technique was born in 19th century Russia, and the most recently accepted variation of the Russian Swing emphasizes compact movements that ends when the kettlebell is equal with the chest. Disciples of the American Swing hail this American evolution as an advanced form of the Russian Swing with emphasis on strength, range of mobility and the end position of the Kettlebell fully extended above your head. Then there are the proprietors of a post Berlin wall hybrid take on the Kettlebell like, C.J. Miller, the Crossfit coaching legend and owner of Crossfit Invictus. In this must read blog, The Great Kettlebell Swing Debate, Miller breaks down the benefits of both styles and the muscle by muscle movement to master both.

Some experts say to stay away from the swing all together. Personal trainer and fitness model Robert Marting has his own concerns in his blog Want to Risk Injury? Enter the Kettlebell Swing "Don’t get me wrong; I know that if you understand and more importantly practice good form with any movement you can safeguard against injury" Says Marting. "This includes weight selection (not too heavy) and controlling momentum or avoiding cheating (swinging) but sadly many folks that weight train don’t get this. Just visit any gym and take a look around."

Nate Church, owner of On Track Wellness, believes swinging is not mandatory to get a good burn, but that there is a time and a place for it :

“I am not against the swing completely, I just prefer to teach it one-on-one during personal training sessions where I can pay close attention to technique and position-- rather than teach it in a big group. Some fitness moves and equipment have higher risk for injury than others” says the king of the infamous Hells Bells Class (held Wednesdays and Thursdays), where the intensity level definitely matches the class name. "I replace the swing with dynamic moves that work the same muscle groups. I use squats, raises and presses in a combination of moves to stimulate the muscle groups."

Swing from the hips, don't swing at all, swing over head, keep it low,” the debate rages on, but debate can be as empowering as a perfect lift. Fitness is all about innovation and pushing our minds and bodies to understand them better. So I say let the experts push the boundaries and expand the fitness community even father than we thought, but always be wary of a 3 month old Kettlebell video on Youtube that has no shares and only 3 views (remember kettle-hell).

So whether you go Hard Style, Sport Style, Juggling Style be safe and have fun.