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A few years ago, Kettlebell swings were the big new thing in fitness. Some people were saying that swings are the perfect full body exercise. However, at the gym I go to in Portland, OR, I rarely see anybody doing swings. The gym has about a dozen kettlebells and they just sit there. Did kettlebells just fall out of fashion, like so many other fads in fitness? I asked the gym owner about this, and he suggested that the reason people aren't doing swings is that they got hurt. What do you think? Just the vicissitudes of fashion, or injuries, or something else?

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  • They were the flavour of the month, and the month has ended. That's all. Jan 29 '19 at 23:46
  • idk, I saw a kettlebell swing in a superbowl ad this year. They must not have completely disappeared. Feb 25 '20 at 19:33
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Most things in the fitness industry, when new, work on a pendulum of popularity.

When they're first introduced, they're the best thing in the world; the one move everyone should be doing, angels sing when they're performed and they've been known to cure cancer and solve world hunger.

Then, a little while later, something happens and they've become the bad guy; they cause poverty and suffering and they'll make your spine shoot across the room, killing that poor old lady doing her best on the treadmill.

Finally, people come to realise they're but another tool in the toolbox. In some situations, they're very good, in others, not so much.

Kettlebell swings are a fantastic exercise when done properly, and that is the issue.

The Kettlebell swing, as taught by StrongFirst, is a hip hinge exercise, helping to develop an explosive hip extension and increase glute strength. I've seen people put decent weight on their deadlifts by introducing kettlebell swings into their routine, and I've personally used them to improve my ability to recover between sets, and I believe help drop bodyfat.

What I've also seen is people swinging the bell overhead (I think it's become known as the American Kettlebell Swing, and is very popular in CrossFit. It's not wrong, it's just a different exercise), I've seen people swinging by squatting so low the 'bell grazes the floor on the way back (rounding their back on the way down), and I've seen people turning the swing into a dynamic front raise (ballistic shoulder exercise maybe?).

The Kettlebell swing is still a foundation kettlebell exercise, but as people have discovered, it won't cure all your fitness woes, it won't give you bulging biceps and six pack abs overnight. I still use it, most people in my gym still use it, but we use it for a specific reason as part of a decently rounded routine.

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  • My impression is that the kettlebell swing is an explosive/ballistic exercise. I would think that it is not a good idea to do such an exercise for many reps? Should not such exercises only be performed when one is fresh and only for a few high quality reps?
    – Andy
    Feb 1 '19 at 12:10
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    @Andy Interesting point. The only reason I can give is that, unlike the olympic lifts, which also have a ballistic component, the kettlebell swing results is much less systemic CNS fatigue, and mainly targets the glutes, as opposed to the entire body (though there is a whole body aspect to it). I've seen two different philosophies, heavy weight for lower reps (10 - 15), or lighter weight for higher reps (25 - 100). I think because of the nature of the movement, it's not stop start, it's a constant movement, it's easier to keep going than most ballistic movements.
    – Dark Hippo
    Feb 4 '19 at 8:51

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