by Jim Halliday
The lifts to be discussed in this article are the Swings, both single and double-handed. On the surface, these do not seem to have much to offer the bodybuilder, but I think some modification of the one-handed lift can be of value.
First of all, we will examine the movements as lifts, and, once more, we find a few points that can make a lot of difference in performance.
With the single-handed lift, as with the Snatch, full use of the disengaged arm should be employed. Any number of preliminary swings are allowed (I feel it is best using only one) and the important thing is to keep the opposite hand on the knee as long as possible, adding the thrust of the arm to assist the leg-drive and at the same time assisting to maintain the proper body position.
Most lifters make the mistake of interpreting the name of the lift too literally, attempting to swing the bell right out in front of the body, both during the preliminary swings and for the final action.
At no time during the lift should the bell be more than a foot or so in front of the body. The thing that causes people to take the bell way out in front is to visualize the lift as consisting of arm action only and to try, as I said before, to literally swing the bell.
Actually the initial effort is comparable to the one recommended for the snatch. It consists of a powerful leg-drive, the disengaged arm playing its part as advised, no conscious effort is made to swing, the bell is merely directed away from the body by the action employed, which is as follows.
As the pull proceeds, the body is brought completely erect, the Trapezius working to absolute limit to bring the deltoid as high as possible, and a full rise on the toes is made. This is sufficient to bring the bell clear of the body, the disengaged hand travels up the thigh, retaining contact. The bell is then allowed to return until it almost touches the ground; it should retrace its upward path as near as possible and be under full control the whole time.
The final pull is made in exactly the same way, advantage should be taken of the reflex action of the legs, the disengaged hand should have been replaced on the knee to again assist the pull, and the lift is concluded by splitting the feet in the regular fashion.
The two-handed lift is basically similar, except, of course, that a more balanced position is available.
For lifters, the usual type of training is sufficient. Single reps are best, actually a single consists of reps because of the construction of the movement. 3 sets of 6 should be the maximum, the bells being returned to the floor after each completed movement.
As a bodybuilding movement I suggest the first part of the lift is used only. For the single-handed lift, the assistance of the opposite hand is eliminated, this remains free at the side. The pull is made as directed, full effort is enforced, and the reps are done in rhythmical fashion, the bell being kept clear of the floor until the set is completed.
Another exercise arising from the movements is to do what I told the lifter not to do. That is to SWING the bell. Commence forward as for the lift proper and swing the bell forward until the arm is perfectly straight. Now, keeping the legs as straight as possible, allow the bell to swing back in between the legs, check and re-swing it forward once more, continuing in rhythmical fashion.
This movement can be performed with two hands by using a swing-bell. It can also be extended by carrying the swing through, to take the bell to arms’ length overhead. Naturally, for best results, the arms must remain perfectly straight throughout.
These two movements can be of benefit to the bodybuilder, and can be used as assistance exercises to aid the lifter.
The only point left to make is to warn the novice that both the lifts and the accompanying exercise are very severe, and that light poundages should be used until proficient.