HARD STYLE VS. SOFT STYLE: Which Kettlebell “School” is Right For You?
Like two different runners train for a marathon and prep for the hundred-yard dash, kettlebell aficionados have two contrasting “schools” of practice to choose from when they start their workout. Whether you’re just starting to make sense of these cannonball-like weights or you’re a seasoned kettlebell warrior with two years of swing challenges under your belt, it’s important to take a step back and analyze the two main kettlebell practices: hard style and soft style.
According to Dave Chesser of Formosa Fitness, comparing the two kettlebell schools is a lot like comparing cars: “Hard style gives you a stronger engine, soft style gives you more fuel efficiency. To be complete, you need to learn both.” Chesser’s got a point — Whether you favor muscle cars or planet-friendly hybrids, you’re going to need a system to take you from Point A to Point B on your fitness journey. The path you take is up to you.
The HARD STYLE kettlebell school favors fast, short burst of energy, lifting as much weight as possible in as little time as is necessary. By generating intense tension in the muscles, hard style kettlebell athletes see impressive results in short periods of time. In hard style practice, the athlete exhales on the upswing and inhales on the downswing. The extreme tension of the hard style swing burns calories, builds strength, and squeezes the muscles to create a uniquely intense workout.
On the other hand, the SOFT STYLE kettlebell workout emphasizes fluidity, efficiency, and endurance. Instead of burning calories and building muscle in short bursts, soft style allows the athlete to do more repetitions at the same weight. How does this happen? In soft style, the athlete breathes in on the upswing and breathes out on the downswing, taking pressure off the spine and reducing the tension on the muscles. While this may sound like a less “intense” burn than hard style, soft style allows the kettlebell warrior to sustain their swing practice for many more reps, relying on endurance and repetition to burn calories, build muscle, and reach long-term fitness goals.
Whether you favor hard style or soft style is truly a matter of personal preference. Both schools offer an excellent workout for the dedicated athlete, but the results you’ll find after a committed practice can differ. If your fitness goals lie in building muscle, “getting ripped,” and burning as many calories in as little time as possible, you may be a hard style kettlebell warrior. If your body image goals lean more toward lithe and sculpted than muscularity and bulk, then you may find more success in soft style.
Which style works best for you? Schedule your personal fitness consultation today to experience the difference between the schools yourself, and to plan out an F3 fitness journey that will leave you healthier and fitter than ever before.