The American Swing or High Pull

In Kettlebell Mastery by Admin2 Comments

Today I’d like to talk about the American Kettlebell Swing and its connection to high pull and kettlebell snatch.

So, what exactly is the american swing? The regular kettlebell swing is mostly done  around hip or shoulder height, whereas in the American swing the kettlebell actually goes overhead.

This American swing is used in Crossfit competitions since it’s easier to judge if the kettlebell is overhead.

I use to be of the opinion that you might as well do kettlebell snatches if you want to put the kettlebell overhead. And that meant doing swings like this was stupid.

However, in my recent work on the beast snatch (with a 48kg kettlebell) I’ve changed my mind and began to use this move. Why? The snatch it is particularly taxing on my shoulders, elbows and hands, whereas the high pull is much less so. Using this exercise I can train the explosive endurance of the move while minimizing what is more often the weakest link.

That’s when I started doing the american kettlebell swing or two hands high pull, as I like to call it. While you can certainly do it with one hand, performing this move two-handed greatly reduces the stress on shoulders and arms, but at the same time activates the scapula and traps. It’s still primarily the lower body exercise, but what it does is help me improve endurance while minimizing the stress on arms while training the basic move.

Just this morning I did 150 high pulls with the 40kg over 15 minutes.

For more information on the kettlebell snatch go here.


  1. wouldn’t a double snatch or high pull with 2-24kg bells be better than the single kb high pull? I’ve heard a lot of press about shoulder impingement injuries doing the American swing.

    1. Great question.

      Yes, I have been doing some double snatches as well. Hard to say if one is necessarily better than the other. It does take a wider stance which changes the groove of the exercise a bit more.

      I could see the shoulder impingement being an issue for some with the American swing, but so far my shoulders feel fine doing it.

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