Unnecessary Censorship

The title of this post has nothing to do with Jimmy Kimmel's unnecessary censorship. I wish it did, actually. But alas, we're swimming in a sea of stupid bullshit and I had to bring something to light.

Back in late January, I was filmed alongside Christy Phillips and Danielle Dionne in a video for the 2012 CrossFit Games...

Let me first say that I was very grateful that Christy and Danielle allowed me to be part of this experience. They let me design the entire workout, take them through each portion, and be a part of the final product. The three of us go way back to the 2009 CrossFit Games, so it was fun to do it again. I also appreciate the media guy (sorry, can't remember his name) from CrossFit HQ filming me and, more importantly, keeping me in the video. It would have been easy to say, "Ya know what, let's just blur out that bearded weirdo."

Now, let's get down to what irks me. I designed the workout with some quick skill testing and then a short metcon. It went like this:

1) Max Broad Jump - 3 attempts
2) Fastest across Strength Grid - 2 attempts
3) Max Calories on Airdyne in 30 seconds - 1 attempt
4) Six minute metcon

The above video included everything overlaid with voiceovers from Christy and Danielle about their preparation for this Games' season. All in all, it was a great workout and a cool video. There was one glaring omission, though, that both surprised and angered me. This was their six minute metcon:

amrap in 6 minutes:
3 hang clean, 135lbs
7 kettlebell swing, 70lbs
25 unbroken double-unders

Upon watching the above video, do you notice what's missing? That's right, not a single repetition of their kettlebell swings. For a while now I've been trying to understand why and the reason is almost too ridiculous to fathom. It's not because their swings were performed poorly or in a dangerous fashion. It's not because their kettlebells were made by Nike or anything. No, it's because their swings were to chest/eye level and not completely overhead.

"WTF?" indeed, funny monkey-face.

Going overhead has been called the "American" swing and swinging to chest level is often referred to as the "Russian" swing. Generally speaking, swinging a kettlebell to chest level is normal; swinging a kettlebell overhead is the CrossFit standard. Just ask AJ Moore. But this really confuses the trifling fuck out of me. I mean, the video even included footage of them carrying kettlebells over to the main gym for the metcon. And yet, they're essentially censored.

Isn't CrossFit all about variance and trying new/different/innovative shit? Hell, the Russian swing isn't even innovative since it was around BEFORE people started swinging shit overhead. Movement standards with CrossFit workouts change on a daily basis, so why is it so unthinkable to do kettlebell swings to chest/eye level? The Games don't always use chest-to-bar pull-ups. In 2009, kipping wasn't allowed during handstand push-ups; in 2011, kipping was encouraged.

Now, I'm not sure if this was HQ's doing or the camera guy, but the whole thing is stupid (and therefore, probably HQ's decision). I shouldn't even be worked up over it because in the end, it's just exercise anyways. But that's exactly it. It's just exercise. So why is the height of a kettlebell swing so offensive to these prissy, uptight douche-canoes?

The point is... there's more than one way to do something. If you don't have a climbing rope at your gym, then you can do towel pull-ups. It's not a perfect substitute, but it provides a similar stimulus. If you don't want your clients doing overhead "American" kettlebell swings because you believe the heavier weight causes a potential danger, then you can have them do Russian swings to chest/eye level. It's not a ridiculous notion. Meanwhile, CrossFit is fine with this...

But this is just unacceptable...

Well... I guess I understand Tex being unacceptable.


  1. Fair points, Q. As they say at CFO, you never know what the workout will call for so you should be prepared for anything. For example, my workout last night required kipping handstand pushups and not strict. Sucktown for me, since I had never done kipping -- just strict. And then I had to figure it out mid-workout. Seeing the value of broadening my perspective on movements more and more. Good post, great video and hilarious elite eyebrows caption.

  2. 1) Once the KB goes past shoulder/chin height it is no longer a swing. Slack in the arms above this threshold requires active tricep engagement, forcing one to actively extend the elbows ( and likely the KB past a confortable center). Slack is BAD! It translates into pulling your humerus out of your shoulder and/or too much force crossing the lumbar region in too short a time.
    2)The single arm varient doesn't exist. According to CF the single arm version is the snatch, which it isn't. We'll probably go go down that rabbit hole soon. If you really don't like your shoulders, try the CrossFit KB snatch and just wait until that tangential acceleration catches up with your shoulder at the end of the arc. It will be beautiful. And by beautiful, of course I mean you will probably tear your labrum, dislocate your shoulder, or wreck one of your rotators. But SLAP tears are par for the course in CF right?
    Impulse= change in momentum. High impulse= highly associated with injury. Just ask a biomechanics professor