In case you haven’t noticed by now, I feel very strongly that the Russian kettlebell swing variation is superior to the American version. I am a movement purist at heart.  I will always stand by the fact that the QUALITY of a movement should ALWAYS supersede the quantity of a movement even if it means slowing down as well as for the sake of a higher or lower score.

The Russian kettlebell swing is not only the original and most widely practiced version of the swing across the globe, it’s also a much safer and better training method than the American version. While some would like to argue that the American version of the kettlebell swing moves the kettlebell through a greater range of motion (creating more work and supposedly being better for you), I propose just the opposite.  The American swing places the most unstable joint in the body (the shoulder joint) in a compromised position at the top of the swing. At the top of the swing you are bearing a rather heavy load overhead with a close grip position of the hands. This makes for a “not so happy place” for the shoulders, paving the way for shoulder impingement and possibly other shoulder injuries.

So all in all, while the American swing is usually the “go to” kettlebell swing for many CrossFit gyms and competitions, I don’t really feel like it is the best variation to be used for training purposes outside of training specifically for CrossFit competitions.  And even then, I still think it’s a poor standard to abide by even if it’s for competition’s sake because so many of the standards in CrossFit just don’t make sense anyway??  If you are someone that frequently competes, then I would suggest swinging to a height possibly somewhere in between the height for a Russian swing and American swing that makes the most sense FOR YOU and any mobility/stability restrictions staring you in the face.  I also suggest that you work on your limitations and mechanics, so that in the weeks leading up to competition or competition season you can perform the exercise knowing that you are doing so with proper form and technique.