Effects of Kettlebell Swing vs. Explosive Deadlift Training on Strength and Power.
Review of a study published in the International Journal of Kinesiology & Sport Science, 2017.
The purpose of this study was to delve into the newest sensation in the workout world, the kettlebell swing, and in a way, prove its worth vs. the explosive deadlift on strength and power output. The idea is that both exercises share similar movements, (hip hinge, knee flexion/extension), that correlate directly with the typical movements of an athlete during sport. Force and velocity are the primary measures of an athlete; both of these movements have very similar patterns only differing in the average velocity and load capabilities. The study tested pre- and post- vertical jump height, maximal isometric mid-thigh pull, and 1RM deadlift. Considering how popular the kettlebell swings are becoming and how well it has been proven to improve rapid lower body force production, this movement is being compared to the traditional explosive deadlift, which has been previously proven to improve both overall strength and power output.
The cohort was compiled of 31 males between the ages of 20 and 26 with at least 1 year of resistance training experience and previous exposure to both movements. Each group took part in a week of familiarization and testing. The familiarization period was 3 sets of 5 repetitions of each exercise, twice/week. After the week of testing each individual was randomly assigned a group, kettlebell swings or explosive deadlifts. The participants were instructed to visit the lab twice/week with a 48-72 hour rest between sessions for a total of 4 weeks. After the 4 weeks, the participants were tested again in their vertical jump height using the AMTI force plate, maximal isometric mid-thigh pull using an appropriately adjusted power rack and force plate, and their 1RM deadlift. During the study the participants were not given any supplementation and were told to maintain their current diet. Both groups were given a linear periodization training model beginning with 4 x 5 (sets x reps) during the first 3 weeks and in weeks 4-5 with a 6 x 4 plan. In weeks 1-3, the kettlebell group used 10% of their peak delta force of their isometric mid-thigh pull followed by an increase to 12.5% in weeks 4-5. The explosive deadlift group used 30% of deadlift 1RM followed by an increase to 40% of their 1RM in weeks 4-5.
The results of the study showed that both groups improved in their deadlift 1RM, mid-thigh pull, as well as their vertical jump height. The researchers believe that this is from neurological conditioning and other mechanical adaptations resulting from repeated exposure to the movements. It was unexpected to see any type of
improvement in the kettlebell groups deadlift 1RM, however, researchers believe that this increase in 1RM was due to the increase in motor unit activation due to the participants attempts to move the kettlebell as fast as possible. This makes sense because the equation for power is work (force x distance) divided by time.
If force remains the same and the velocity of the movement increases, the time that the distance is covered obviously decreases, this creates higher overall power.
Real World Application
This study proves that exercises that emphasize hip hinge movement, with a focus on high velocity can improve performance in movements such as 1RM deadlift and vertical jump. Knowing this, strength and conditioning coaches can implement different phases within their program that include high velocity movements such as kettlebell swings and explosive deadlifts without seeing any loss of strength or power. Overall, high velocity increases speed and slow resistance increases strength. Knowing this, a coach can potentially implement a microcycle that focuses solely on high velocity movements in order to keep the program from getting stale, this can improve the athlete’s motor unit activation which could lead to larger strides in the next cycle of the program.
Matthew R., M., David C., A., Whitney D., L., Cameron N., M., Megan A., W., Lee E., B., & ... Andrew J., G. (2017). Effects of Kettlebell Swing vs. Explosive Deadlift Training on Strength and Power. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF KINESIOLOGY AND SPORTS SCIENCE, Vol 5, Iss 1, Pp 1-7 (2017), (1), 1. doi:10.7575//aiac.ijkss.v.5n.1p.1