USA vs Russia - The Great Kettlebell Debate

USA vs Russia - The Great Kettlebell Debate

USA vs Russia has witnessed some epic battles down the years. There was the Space Race. There was that silly sixties skirmish - what was it called? Oh yeah, the Cold frigging War - and there was Rocky vs. Drago, otherwise known as “The Siberian Bull.” 

And now there is The Great Kettlebell Debate. 

Kettlebells are important for beasts. Different than dumbbells, kettlebellswings, in particular, boost both your strength and cardio, and they help you perform everyday tasks better. They’re also super fun! 

But which is better? The American way or the Russian way? 

Beast Gear takes a closer look …

The American Kettlebell Swing 

The American kettlebell swing and the Russian kettlebell swing actually have a few things in common. The major way they differ is in the top position, as well as in the recommended weight of the kettlebells. 

With the U.S. version, you need to pass your kettlebell just under your groin while generating maximum power with your hips and contracting your glutes hard. Your quads, meanwhile, should be used to pull your knees up while your stomach needs to stay nice and tight. 

There are other, more minor differences too, of course. For example, in the U.S. swing, your kettlebell must be in direct alignment with your spine. To achieve this, use the force produced on your bell to let it carry allllll the way overhead. 

Your hip drive needs to generate this force, but in so doing you will probably need to decelerate your kettlebell once it nears its apex. 

Also, while the U.S. variant produces more range of motion in the kettlebell, the shoulder joint is typically placed in a more compromising position as you lift it. 

The problem here is that, because the shoulder joint is pretty damn unstable, putting it under such a burden in an overhead position is not especially safe. Thus, to safely bring the swing overhead, it’s recommended that you use a lighter bell. This will, of course, necessitate less force output and more rep time. 

The Russian Kettlebell Swing 

Kick things off with your kettlebell just below your groin. Then, swing it up so that it’s level with your chest. 

The Russian kettlebell swing is rapid and efficient. It flexes your knees and hips, and it’s your hips that generate all the power. Your spine, meanwhile, retains a neutral position and is kept safe and stable.

At the peak of the swing, keep your bell level with your chest while making sure to contract your glutes and engage your quads while keeping your stomach solid as a rock. 

Make sure to breathe properly, too. Ergo, fill your abdomen during the bottom motion of the swing and exhale like a lion as you reach the top of the swing. 

I like the Russian kettlebell swing because it teaches us how to break at our glutes, lats and abs. It also teaches us how to use our bodies more efficiently. 


So what have we learned here? 

The aim of the kettlebell swing is surely to boost hip hinge power output. Because performing the U.S. kettlebell swing means we have to use a lighter weight while lengthening the time of the set we’re performing, it seems rational to surmise that increasing the weight of the kettlebell and decreasing the rep time is the way to go. 

In other words, guys, I’d have to say that it’s the Russian kettlebell swing for me. However, what you choose to go with depends on what your goal is, how you want to get to that goal and what you get the most enjoyment out of. 

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