Swinging objects is deep rooted in our ancestral history. Our ancestors were smart and they realized using tools to perform specific tasks would help ensure survival and promote well being. During combat situations we would typically swing objects at our opponent to give us the upper hand in protecting ourselves. In hunting situations we might swing an object to make a kill. We may use the object like a spear and jab at the prey or potentially swing the object to contact the head of the animal. Sometimes even while gathering we might swing a stick to dislodge high fruits. We might also rotationally swing a projectile, like a rock, with contacting an animal or object being the goal. Swinging requires an immense level of core strength and stabilization which, for our ancestors, may have prevented some of the low back pain our current society suffers from. It also requires power, as typically the harder and faster you swing, the more efficient you were at the given task. This combination of uses, allowed our ancestors to have strong stabilizer muscles of the core including Transverse Abdominus, Internal and External Obliques, Quadratus Lumborum, Multifidus, and Erector Spinae, leading them to injury prevention and optimal performance in survival tasks.
Swinging can be used in your training to improve your core strength and stability, while at the same time increasing power. It can also be used as a form of cardiovascular conditioning within the parameters of interval training. Before you go out and start swinging something as hard and fast as you can, remember that you must already have a decent amount of core stability to begin with. Swinging is considered a ballistic movement and you should start with a low intensity and low volume before progressing yourself as improvements prevail. Most Swinging is going to be in the transverse plane and promote rotation of the body. This is great, as transverse plane movements are not commonly performed in most exercise programs.
Variations of swinging exercises are determined by the angle at which the swing is performed and the object that is being swung. Remember that the Force-Velocity Curve governs the speed at which you swing; the heavier the object the slower the swing will be and vice-versa. If you are training for quickness and speed in a swing, for something like baseball, a lighter object with a faster swing speed will better promote the goal. If core strength is the goal, use a heavier object, which by law will be moved slower, but will stress the muscles more.
Listed below are new aged exercises which promote the primal act of swinging:
Sledgehammer Swings: The Vertical Wood Chop, Single Arm Swings, Baseball/Rotational Swing
Rotational Medicine Ball Throw
Kettle Bell Swing
Just because it was in the name I had to include it. Although its primal roots may be fewer and far between, it is a great exercise to promote extensional explosivness, total body power and cardiovascular conditioning. (This video is just cause she’s good looking)
All of these exercises are mainly focused on power and force production. They are in the advanced category and should be used by those looking to increase rotational and extensional force and power as well as anyone looking for a tough cardiorespiratory workout. Cheers and swing on!