Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The One Hand Swing - Gord Venables

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The One Hand Swing

by Gord Venables (1943)

While we are not trying to resurrect old lifts with a view to having them in competition (though it’s a great idea for challenge meets and team meets), we are trying to make your weight training more interesting and to help you build a better physique in less time. Last month we went into the Continental Jerk with apparent success for I’ve already received letters from bar bellers who have both improved their lifting and physiques in just that short time.

This month we will have a go at another famous old time lift; a lift that was part of every important challenge contest in Europe prior to ’28. It is the One Hand Swing. The One Hand Swing is, in my opinion, one of the best exercises for the back. It gives a far greater range of movement than does either the Two Hand Snatch or One Hand Snatch by permitting the weight to pass between the legs, thus extending the back to a far greater degree.

An adjustable dumbell is used for the One Hand Swing. Fairly large plates should be used; from 10 to 12 inches in diameter at least. For exercising, however, the size of the plate is not so important. The only difference between the dumbell you use for the swing and the one you use for other movements is: one end is heavier that the other! This may seem a little puzzling at first. Perhaps it is your opinion that a dumbell should be perfectly balanced. It should be – for exercising, but for the One Hand Swing it is decidedly off balance. ONE SIDE SHOULD BE 15 POUNDS HEAVIER THAN THE OTHER. I would have to go into a long and technical discourse as to why one end should be heavier, which I wont; suffice to say, however, try a swing with an evenly loaded dumbell and then with one some 15 pounds heavier on one end. A 100 lb. dumbell, evenly balanced, is a pretty awkward object to swing overhead even for a strong man, but make one end heavier than the other by 15 lbs. and see what a difference it makes. The weight just seems to fly up. It feels under perfect control all the way and settles into the right position overhead.

The space between the plates should be small, about six inches, certainly never more than eight.

You will need a GAUNTLET, or some similar form of protection for your forearm which the forward plate will contact during part of the swing. This gauntlet need not be elaborate. It can be made of leather or heavy fabric and laced or strapped to the wrist. It should be about six inches long though, to come well up on the forearm. (See Figure 1.) Now let us take a look at the fine points of this lift which, along with the One Hand Snatch, is the fastest and most exciting lift in the Iron Sport.

Stand with the feet about eighteen inches apart. The dumbell is placed between the feet with the heavier end to the rear. The forward or lighter end should be about even with the heels. (As in Figure 1.) Grasp the dumbell handle firmly with the hand forced well up against the forward collar or plate. This is important; the hand should be against the front plate. Do not try to grasp the handle in the exact middle. Place the free hand on the thigh. Some lifters place this hand close to the knee, some well up on the thigh. You will have to practice this yourself to determine just where the free hand will give the most push.

With straight arm lift the dumbell from the floor outwards in front of the body as shown in Figure 2. You should be leaning back slightly, the shoulder of the lifting arm drawn up while as much of the arm as possible rests against the body.

Quickly lower the bell but DO NOT PERMIT IT TO SWING BACKWARDS BETWEEN THE LEGS! With a light poundage this won’t make any difference but once a weight approaching bodyweight is used the momentum of the bell swinging back between the legs will throw the body forward and the ability to exert all your power on the upswing will be lost.

When the bell has dropped to within about two inches of the floor pull it upwards close to the body with every ounce of power you possess while pushing vigorously with the other hand against the thigh. (Figure 4.) Throw your shoulder back and the abdomen out pressing against the lifting arm. The elbow should be within an inch or two of the navel. Bend the arm to keep the weight close to the body but as you split and the bell flies overhead the must be no press-out. At this point it resembles a One Hand Dumbell Snatch.

The more you thrust your abdomen out against your lifting arm the easier the lift. The eyes should follow the weight.

The split should be fast and low (Figure 5.) with arm straightening out as quickly as possible. The opposite hand may be held out to the side, after it has completed its push from the thigh, for balance.

Come to the erect position (Figure 6.) by straightening the forward splitting leg first. The heels should be brought together and the lifter stand thus for two seconds.

If you don’t care to go in for competitive One Hand Swinging, then by all means use this wonderful lift for an exercise. Do from 5 to 10 repetitions with each hand and in short order you’ll find a marked improvement in the breadth of your back. The depths of the muscle will increase and you will be much stronger, particularly in the Lumbar regions. I recall a picture published fifteen years ago in the old Strength magazine of George Jowett getting set to perform a One Hand Swing and the most impressive thing in the picture was the tremendous size and depth of the Lumbar muscles. Jowett was good on this lift and was the first in America to exceed bodyweight.

Charles Rigoulot of France holds the world’s record in the swing with 209 lbs. A number of the oldtimers exceeded the 200 lb. mark and the lightest man to do it was Cadine who weighed about 190 at the time. Vasseur, Bonnes and Jean Francois were all superb on the swing; Francois for years held the record at 199½ lbs.

In this country the highest lift was made about nine years ago by Stan Kratkowski, of Detroit, as a lightheavy when he swung 178 lbs. Both John Grimek and I have done 175, using the large Olympic plates, in training. Terpak and Terlazzo have both done over bodyweight, which is considered extraordinary in this lift, particularly for a middleweight. Dick Bachtell is perhaps the best exponent of the swing, having done 145 lbs. as a featherweight!

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