So, I forgot to post on Wednesday. Sorry folks! To make up for it, I present this: As the title states: Swing. Big. Bells.
Me and Natasha, just swinging around.
1. Glute strength- Do you want a strong butt? Of course you do, that's why you read this site. Swings are fantastic glute builders. The glutes are the most powerful hip extensors so it makes sense to perform exercises that force the glutes to extend the hips... hmmm, sounds like swings huh? The powerful snap of the swing carries over into other lifts such as the deadlift and squat. The glutes also play in vital role in sprinting and jumping. So if you want to be the Athlete-Of-Steel, you needs buns of steel. Swing it baby!
Gotta build the wheels if you want speed!
2. Upper back strength- During the swing, the upper back is essentially holding an isometric contraction to maintain the "chest up" postion throughout the swing. The lats are working hard to keep the bell close to the body (so it doesn't go flying away and pull you with it). The rhomboids and the teres major and minor are doing their duty of keeping the shoulder blades down and back and keeping the humerus in it's socket (kinda important). Guess what? Chin/Pull ups require those muscles too.
All my ButtKamp Ladies are swingers (the G-Rated kind, not the other kind) and ALL my ButtKamp Ladies' have improved in the pull up/chin up. We now have 2 women who are able to do a body weight chin up...(Suzanne, above, is one. The day after this, she nailed it!) pretty awesome! Personally, I've noticed an marked difference in my pull up strength, both my 1-rep max (weight on my waist) and my total rep max (how many I can do) have increased. With all the work the lats and upper back do in the swing, I don't think it's a cowinky-dink. Once again, the upper back strength also carries over to the big girl/boy lifts: squats and deads. Try performing either with a weak upper back and you'll find yourself stapled by the weight.
3. Injury prevention/rehab for lower backs- I professed my love and belief in swings for back rehab on Wednesday. The nature of swings, strengthening glutes, upper back, the spinal erectors, and core muscles, perfectly align with the needs of most back-pain sufferers. Most of us have, weak glutes, upper backs, cores, and spinal erectors. I know mine were (thus part of the reason I have injuries). While I can't claim that swings will heal any injury, they can at least prevent further injury (or injury if there isn't one present) and build up the muscles that protect the injury.
4. Grip strength- When your forced to grip a heavy weight while it's moving, you're going to build up some pretty strong hand and forearm muscles. One of my weak links in the deadlift (and pull ups) was my grip. I found this out pretty quickly once I started doing high rep, heavy swings. My forearms were on fire and my grip often gave out before the rest of me did. If you like picking up heavy things and walking around, swings will help build up an iron grip so you can pick up heavier things and walk around even more.
Keep on walkin'...
5. Cardiovascular and muscular endurance- Don't like running? Me neither. I do love to swing though. Swinging is excellent for building up cardiovascular endurance and muscular endurance (the ability for muscles to produce sub-max force over an extended period of time). Don't believe me? Try this: do a ladder of 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. Take a breath for every swing you do. How do you feel? Oh wait, I can't hear your over you pounding heart and labored breathing...
I see too many people talk while using this...
6. Core strength and function- During the swing, the midsection must remain tight not only to protect the spine, but also to transfer the force of the glute contractions into the bell to swing it. The core has to also be able to relax slightly so you can breathe throughout the workout (pretty important piece of exercise, that breathing. Generally, you inhale on the way down, brace on the way up, and breathe out forcefully at the apex of the swing.) and immediately brace for the next cycle of contraction as the bell swings forward. For those with back pain, sometimes the core muscles aren't firing in the right order. Swings help retrain the muscles in this sense.
7. Joint-Friendly conditioning- As mentioned, swings are pretty safe for those with back injuries (most of the time anyway). They're a perfect conditioning tool for those with cranky knees, ankles, and shoulders (mostly). They're also good introductory training for deconditioned individuals as they're scalable to individual strength and fitness levels. Unlike running, which essentially is thousands of one-legged hops, swings have very little negative joint impact (the elbows can take a beating if the upper back isn't doing it's job though so be prudent!) so it's less likely that you'll sustain an injury and want to quit exercising.
8. Leanness- This is more anecdotal than factual, but swinging promotes leanness better than any other form of conditioning I've run across (outside of regular sprint sessions, which can take their toll on the system physically as they're pretty stressful). Coach Dan John has spoken of the power of the swing to help athletes/trainees maintain a lower body fat percentage and I've noticed in myself as well. It's not going to be the magic bullet, but for those who train hard and eat pretty well, the addition of swings can help pull the body fat down a bit without too much stress to your system.
9. Overall strength- Swings involve the whole body, in case you couldn't tell from the above points. If you want to increase your strength, add some of these in and you'll be amazed at the carry over into the rest of your workouts/activities.
Hagrid-like strength in a little body
10. Self-Defense- If swings help build up the glutes and hamstrings, which are the primary movers and shakers of sprinting, should you be attacked by zombies or some other terrifying creature, you'll be able to scamper away pretty darn fast. Or, if you're brave, just swing your bell at them and let go. 60+ pounds to the face will mess any body up. Pretty sure Kathy could take down any foe.
If those didn't convince you then, well, I have no words.