December
9

Swings better than Olympic Lifts – Part 2

Jukka is a European rider and coach who I’ve been corresponding with over the last couple of years – in fact, he’s even made the trip over to Grand Junction to see my facility and talk training. He’s a bright guy who, like me, appreciates what strength training can do for mountain bikers. He sent me a couple of studies recently that I thought brought up some really interesting points, especially in light of some recent posts I’ve made about kettlebell swings being more “specific” to riding than the Olympic Lifts.

These studies were done by John Cowell, a former pro cyclist and in charge of strength and conditioning program for New Zealand riders. While the studies were done on BMX riders the carryover from a movement pattern standpoint has a lot of carryover for the trail rider since the ability to power movement and execute technical skills while standing are things that mountain bikers need as well.

I found the studies very interesting for one main reason – the top patterns were hip hinge and horizontal shoulder ab/ adduction. This seemed to suggest to me that, once again, swings may be better than the OLs on some levels since the OLs work on vertical, not horizontal shoulder movement. At the top position swings have you in full hip extension and horizontal shoulder abduction, which seems to suggest more specificity.

Not trying to be contrarian about it but the more I think about it the more I feel that there are lot of ways to apply KB swings and snatches, especially the overspeed eccentric variety, may be more “specific” than the OLs to the movement demands of trail riding. Add in the fact that you can get a great training effect with significantly less weight and the learning curve is significantly shorter. To me this means that there is certainly something to think about….

-James Wilson-

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  1. Pollyanna says:

    Just wondering if John Cowell’s studies have been published and if so were as I am interested in learning more.

    Reply • December 9 at 11:12 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Here is a link to one abstract (you have to pay for the full study):

      http://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Abstract/publishahead/Strength_Training_Considerations_for_the_Bicycle.99758.aspx

      The other study was not published yet but seemed to re-enforce the other one.

      Reply • December 9 at 1:18 pm
    • John Cowell says:

      With all due respect to this author, I have made no such assertion that KB swings are more specific to cycling that Olympic lifts. Please see my published articles.

      Reply • April 4 at 6:26 pm
      • bikejames bikejames says:

        Sorry if it came across that way but I never said that you did. Here is the quote from the article:

        I found the studies very interesting for one main reason – the top patterns were hip hinge and horizontal shoulder ab/ adduction. This seemed to suggest to me that, once again, swings may be better than the OLs on some levels since the OLs work on vertical, not horizontal shoulder movement. At the top position swings have you in full hip extension and horizontal shoulder abduction, which seems to suggest more specificity.”

        As you can see I never said that you “said” anything. I was simply looking at your conclusions and thinking out loud, so to speak. Hopefully this clears up any confusion.

        Reply • April 6 at 7:42 am
  2. Nate Turner says:

    I get the hip hinge aspect of a KB swing, but I think Russians or Americans require glenohumeral flexion (concentric) and extension (eccentric phase), not horizontal ab- and adduction.

    http://www.exrx.net/Articulations/Shoulder.html

    Did I misread something above?

    What do you think of band-resisted torso twists (1- and 2-arm) to train those motions at the shoulder/torso? Maybe from an offset foot position as in pedaling?

    Reply • December 10 at 4:48 pm

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James Wilson
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