Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength

HELPING YOU GET STRONGER SINCE 2004

From Running to Kettlebell Swings
Filed In : Articles | featured

One thing we are always interested in regarding functional training is how it carries over into daily life, and other athletic events. A perfect example of this is running. Whenever a new client mentions that he or she runs I give them one piece of advice- “Don’t“.
Interval sprints and the like can be healthy, but the general public labors under the delusion that running is the king of exercises, and since we all know that more must be better, running for hours on end must be great for you, right? You are correct, if your destination is to get to your coffin as quickly as possible, or become a functional cripple by your forties.
If you engage in strength training and have proper running mechanics, you can avoid many of the negative effects associated with long slow distance running. However, most people do not have these things. Therefore they would be better off doing something with no impact on the joints, which combines resistance and cardio. I have just described a kettlebell swing.
To be an efficient runner three of the primary things I need are strong lung capacity, good cardio, and strong legs. Again, I get all of these from kettlebell swings. If you were to engage in a progressive program of kettlebell training (heavy on the swings and snatches) with minimal running performed primarily for specificity you would find that you are a stronger runner than if you had only run.
We know from weight training that the surest way to cease progress is to just keep lifting the weights and always trying to add more on. Yet this is how many (probably most) train for running. Come to think of it, this is how many people also train with weights.
While I was with the California National Guard I had to take part in two of the Army Physical Fitness Tests, each of which required a two-mile run. I ran both tests in about 12:30-13:00 minutes. Not super fast, but I’m a poor runner. I finished ahead of about ninety percent of the battalion, most of whom were a decade younger than myself. I had not run a single mile on my own in about six months. What I had been doing was a boatload of swings. That’s when I stopped running completely.


Something else important to consider is the postural element of running. These same elements apply to biking, to an even greater degree. The big rage in the gyms is the spin class. Now, these do work you hard I agree, but is it worth the negative effects? Next time the spin class ends at your local gym watch everyone who walks out. Most of them will have slumped posture, forward heads, posterior pelvic tilts. Your body will adopt the posture that it perceives to be the norm. If you’re hunched over your desk all day, hunched over the steering wheel in your car while commuting, hunched over a bike in a spin class, or hunched over as you run, why would your body suddenly adopt proper posture? It will adopt the posture that you are most consistently in.
Now we come back to the kettlebell swing. What is my most common admonishment to clients learning the swing?
“At the top of the swing you should be two straight lines. Straight up and down, and straight out to the bell.”
There is no room for slouching in the kettlebell swing. Doing this will only earn you bad form as well as back, shoulder, and elbow pain. Swings performed properly will continue to whack you back into shape, and along with properly performed Turkish Get Ups they will restore your shoulder and front panel flexibility.
I understand that I can’t stop you from running. Well I can, but I don’t have enough duct tape and rope for all of you. So what I instead encourage you to do is swing your kettlebells and minimize the running to what you need in order to remain efficient at it.

What's This?

Straight to the Bar is the online home of fitness enthusiast Scott Bird, and looks at the many training approaches, essential techniques, uncommon exercises and superb equipment to help you become as strong as humanly possible. In short, this site is the home of all things strength.

images of strength

Strong.

Want to see (and learn) more Feats of Strength like this? Dive in.

Just Joined Us? Try These.

There are some incredible writers on the team here. To give you an idea, check these out :

If you enjoyed these, check out the complete ‘Best Of Straight to the Bar‘ list. Fantastic.

setting up a home gym?

If you’re getting ready to put together a solid Home Gym (fantastic thing), here’s how.

For more, swing by the full guide. Absolutely free.

And of course, you’ll find everything you need over in the SttB Strength Store. Massive range.

Ever Tried Kettlebells?

If you’ve seen people using them but never taken the plunge yourself, here are the ones I use personally. You can also pick up a book/DVD/course if you want to learn how to put them to work.

Ready To Learn Even More?

I love learning new skills, and the many seminars & workshops available are a great way to do that. If you’re looking for a specific type of workshop nearby, check out the ones on Dragon Door. Great mix of kettlebell and calisthenics-based offerings.

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program.

If you’re a fitness professional and love the Precision Nutrition approach, check out their certification offering. To say it’s comprehensive is an understatement.

Wherever You Are, We Are.

In addition to the main site, you can share your strength-training passion with a like-minded community on :

Wherever you like to hang out, get your regular dose of strength. Straight to the Bar.