Yeah, the swing is useful. pre-ACL failure, I did swings often. I have no doubts it's a useful exercise that was thrown in the dust-bin of lifting history prematurely. It's a great posterior chain movement. It's just overhyped, not well-understood, and often horribly performed. There are lots of things about the swing that just annoy me about the subculture's relationship with the swing that just have to be cleaned up, dried off, and ironed out so hype can be separated from fact.
First of all, the swing doesn't need to be done with kettlebells. If you can put a heavy object between your legs, hold it with your hands, then you can swing it. The first objects I ever swinged with were rocks. I'm also fond of conventional, two hand of swings with sandbags over kettlebells. When I kettlebell swing, I usually do it with two KB's. In fact, the traditional object to swing wasn't even kettlebells. Back around the turn of the century, 1900, the Olympics featured dumbbell swings.
Which brings us to another interesting point about swing movements. If you are looking for proof that we've gotten weaker now than we were back then and things aren't what they used to be,then you could easily use swing exercises as proof. Today, we think of swings as a conditioning exercise (which is just another way of saying that they kind of suck woodpecker eggs and are only good for people who are too weak to lift real weights). Back 80-120 years ago, they were a max strength movement that ended up with the weight overhead. John Grimek Routinely would do swings with a 200 lbs dumbbell.
|...or two-hundred pound ones!|
A very poorly known, but highly valuable exercise variation are lateral swings. These are (were...FUCK!) second-favorite way to swing with a kettlebell. A video is in the order to explain this one...
AGAIN... do these with some serious weight!! I know I've spend a half-decade on this site telling you that you don't always need big weights to get strong but even I have to admit that you just have to go heavier sometimes to get results. This is the sometimes. Swings aren't so damn special that they can fly in the face the fact that once you get well into high rep territory that you need to find a way to make the movement harder. BW training suffers from this exact problematic line of thinking. Bodyweight movement-form can be easily modified to become more difficult. In the case of swings, you'll likely have to add weight. So, quit pussy-footing around. I don't have time to devote 10 minutes to one movement, even one set, over and over again. I don't really have the inclination to either. There's more to be gained from the swing lifts than what the market is selling with the current dogma.