The key to a better swing : Part 3

Dial in the volume.

In the last couple of weeks we have broken down some of the fundamentals of both breathing and hinging for the deadlift. The swing then, is the next step to the movement progression and one we use a lot at Ethos. It is important to remember that without the breathing and bracing technique, then the deadlift refinement, this blog won’t yield the results you seek. Instead it runs the risk of putting you in some uncompromising positions. So click here and go back to the previous installments to make sure you have done the homework to get this far.

Moving on…

Developing a better swing comes directly from the power generated by the hips. The more power generated in the hip drive, the higher the bell will float, the less likely you will be to use your arms, and the less load you'll apply to your spine. All good things, trust me.

Without a powerful glute contraction, the bell will not “float”. Instead, it will simply swing until it runs out of momentum (aka a dead-end) and fall back into the downward pendulum hanging on your joints, rather than being loaded specifically. This might not sound like a major problem until we consider what the purpose of the swing actually is.

We ballistically swing the bell to develop power, strength, workload capacity and to burn body fat. Treating the swing like a consistently paced metronome is counter intuitive to its purpose. Explosiveness. Instead we should think of the swing more like Newton's cradle. In Newtons cradle, the force of your loaded hamstrings propels the bell forwards, the force then meets your hips, now working the two largest muscles in your body (and therefor the ones with the biggest capacity to use calories/fat), your glutes, which in turn drive the bell upwards. See the diagrams below.

We need more explosive movement than the metronome in the swing.

We need more explosive movement than the metronome in the swing.

Notice the distinct periods of loading and floating.

Notice the distinct periods of loading and floating.

So once we know how to drive the hips, applying vertical into the ground force to come to standing and get the basics of the swing down, how do we refine the swing to really own the weight and understand how to transfer this skill into other lifts such as the clean, high pull and snatch?

In August at SFG LI, I was lucky enough to work with chief SFG Brett Jones. He visually described the swing as a “volume dial” (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10). Zero being between your legs (in the deadlift) and 10 being over head (in the snatch). During the swing portion of the skill training, we were instructed to “swing to a 4 on the volume dial” and that the bell would “naturally float to a 6” (the 6 being the perfect height at the top of the swings). Now is a good time to look at the video below.

See how the hip drives all of the movements regardless of the drill? If the hip drive lacks the necessary power, the body will not simply stop and safely miss the lift. Instead, we will use some other joint structure or muscle combination to complete the movement, and 9 times out of 10, that's your back. Upper or lower, rotation, flexion or extension, we make the movement happen. And the next morning we pay for it.

So the plan is to perfect the swing and here is a the progression set to help us do that.

Breathing/bracing>Deadlift > Pull-through > Hike pass > Swing.

To train the single arm (SA) swing and lead to the clean, high pull and snatch, here is the progression set.

Breathing/bracing>Two handed drills>SA deadlift >SA hike pass > SA swing > SA clean > SA high pull >SA snatch.

See the examples below, and some of the drills to be included in next weeks blog...

Check back in for the next installment that will illustrate various drills to help perfect these skills as we progress through the movements and develop a better swing.