Want a bigger, better deadlift? The kettlebell swing could be the missing tool in your toolbox.
Deadlifting is a skill. Like any other skill you must practice it deliberately and frequently. Swings aren't meant to replace deadlifting, but they can be a valuable tool in helping you build a bigger lift. The swing provides a multitude of benefits that transfer. In fact, powerlifter Andy Bolton, one of the first people to pull over 1000 pounds, has long advocated kettlebell swings.
Kettlebell swings improve maximal and explosive strength, both of which translate to bigger deadlift numbers. One six week study of training the swing biweekly (either with 12 kg or 16 kg kettlebells) used twenty-one healthy men. Both maximal strength and explosive strength improved significantly, 9.8% and 19.8% respectively.
This is important because increased maximal strength naturally means an increase in the amount of force you can produce for one all-out lift. The stronger you are, the more you can lift.
Similarly, increases in explosive strength result in higher lifting numbers because of an increased rate of force development. The greater our rate of force development, the faster we get at recruiting muscle fibers. This is beneficial if we're seeking bigger lifting numbers, especially for a deadlift where we start the lift from a dead stop and need to produce force rapidly.
Frequent repetition of the same movement with proper technique enhances our neuromuscular pathway, improving movement efficiency and increasing strength levels. Kettlebell swings grease the groove on aggressive hip hinging mechanics, and a big deadlift requires a strong hip hinge.
It's quite difficult to recover from frequent and heavy deadlifting. Kettlebell swings, despite having an eccentric component, are easier to recover from and can be done multiple times within one week. You're able to grease the groove on an aggressive hip hinge which carries over to better deadlifting mechanics.
If you ever want to put your conditioning to the test, try doing kettlebell swing intervals or do swings for a set amount of time without stopping. Both workouts will challenge your aerobic, anaerobic, and power endurance levels.
Improving these qualities leads to better overall conditioning which allows you to get more reps/sets in a workout and recover better from the workload. As mentioned, deadlifting is a skill, so any tool that gets you better at performing your skill is something worth doing.
- Lake, J. P., & Lauder, M. A. (2012). Kettlebell Swing Training Improves Maximal and Explosive Strength. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(8), 2228-2233.