One of the primary lifts in Kettlebell Sport, the power or push jerk, involves a high speed jump and a precise land.
In olympic-style weightlifting, a jump refers to the first dip of hip flexion followed by the powerful extension of the ankles, knees, and hips that fire leg strength upward. The subsequent landing is called the second dip because the knees and hips drop down a second time and remain rigidly flexed and contracted until the load is caught and controlled overhead.
The same principles apply to kettlebell lifting:
The second dip is the phase of the kettlebell jerk in which the hips shoot back under after the jump in order to limit the height of the kettlebells’ trajectory and to recruit maximal leg strength for the receiving position.
In the kettlebell community, the required depth of hip flexion in the second dip of the jerk isn’t standardized until the elite level of ranks (i.e. MSWC and above). These lifters know there is no alternative; perfecting technique on every phase of the jerk, second dip among them, is the only way to increase both load and total volume.
Interestingly, there is no debate within the Olympic-style weightlifting community about the biomechanics of the second dip with a maximal load, “its line of action, due to the force of gravity, is always vertically down. Once a lifter lifts a barbell, the unit, the lifter, and barbell have a common center of gravity (COG) and this has a bearing greatly in preserving balance. The location of the COG of the combined unit will be closer to the heavier object than the lighter one.” -USA Weightlifting Accreditation Manual
Unlike Olympic-style weightlifting however, the kettlebell jerk involves high repetitions of a submaximal load so how is it that the same principles from O-lifting apply here? If the legs are not in the proper position to balance the load over the combined COG from the start, upper body strength will inevitably become the dominate–and quite limited–transfer of force. Not good. On the other hand, when the kettlebell jerk is executed accurately, universal leg recruitment is smoothly sustained over time.
The depth of hip flexion in the second dip is based on three things:
1. Proper balance over the combined COG
2. Accurate alignment of the shoulder, elbow, and wrist upon landing– control of the kettlebells over the midline of the body with shoulders and elbows fully extended and parallel overhead; elbows perpendicular to the ground
3. adaptation and speed of the movement pattern within the central nervous system
These are critical skills that require neuromuscular development, not strength. Once the pattern is embedded into the central nervous system, including the appropriate exhalation relative to the load, we transition to heavier kettlebells.
If we see our teammates slamming the heels of their feet down after the jump with bent elbows overhead, we encourage deeper hip flexion until the kettlebells are caught precisely over the midline with shoulders, elbows, and wrists fully extended.
If we see the heels of the feet landing with the elbows locked but arms angled slightly ahead of the midline of the body, we revert back to a lighter weight or demand a slower pace to give the athlete time to practice accurate alignment.
For the past six years, our club has spent countless hours practicing the mechanics of the second dip. Every lifter in our club has been submerged within the technical world of each phase of the movement since the day they started our program. We are grateful for it! Longevity is sacred in this sport and we are still here to learn and grow. We hope you can also feel our passion to preserve the highest standards of this beloved sport. Spread the GS love for the second dip!
A lot of your kettlebell journey will involve the idea of practice and not just “working out”. The idea is that kettlebell training, as a movement pattern-based fitness system, should be viewed as skill development and more than a matter of random effort.
To develop and refine skills, there has to be practice of the movements and it is through practice that these movement skills are improved upon and will create a foundation for long-term success.
To develop a good kettlebell practice habit, it is helpful to first feel comfortable just moving the kettlebell around from one hand to another, without really having to worry too much about the more technically precise hand and body positions that are involved in the Ballistic kettlebell exercises, and that take more time and practice to learn well.
I like to call these kinds of simple, free-flowing kettlebell movements “Getting to know your Kettlebell” exercises, because they are great ways for you and your kettlebell to introduce yourselves to each other! If you can think back to your first day of school as a 4 or 5 year old, isn’t it helpful making new friends when you know each other’s names and have a bit of informal play before getting to the homework?
Think of your relationship with your kettlebells along the same line. You are going to be spending a lot of time together and the “school” work is not often going to be easy. So take a few minutes first get get to know each other.
The first Getting to Know Your Kettlebell movement is called the Around the body pass. Here’s how to do it:
Pick up a light kettlebell and hold it in front of you with 1 hand, feet shoulder-distance apart and with a good upright posture.
Maintain good posture and alignment as you pass the kettlebell around the body from one hand to the other, in a continuous circular pattern. Hips stay facing forward throughout. Keeping a firmness in your abs and butt muscles will assure you do. The kettlebell is close enough to the body that you don’t have to reach for it, but not so close as to hit yourself with it. The pattern forms what may be likened to a hula-hoop.
Breath slowly and smoothly throughout. Instead of making it a vigorous cardio exercise, aim for a fluid passing from one hand to the next. Vary the tempo of the movement and reverse directions multiple times.
Since we all makes mistakes, be aware going into it that you can and likely will drop the kettlebell on occasion. Plan accordingly so that if it drops, you can do it without damaging yourself, your property or someone else. Remember your beloved furrry friends sometimes like they to run around your feet so also take that into account.
If you don’t have a padded floor to train on, consider placing a thick rubber matt on the floor to train On. Lastly, remember the adage that “quick feet are happy feet”, and move them out of the way of a falling kettlebell.
ett inlägg från Josh Henkin…
It doesn’t make any sense does it?
This question was posed to me by DVRT Master Chief Instructor and resident deep thinker, Troy Anderson.
“How can you expect people to believe that $50 could be worth more than $200?!”
What in the WORLD was Anderson talking about?
We were discussing the simple fact that what we promote at DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training could seem crazy to many. After all, how could something that is lighter be actually harder than something heavier?!
It is like the age old joke, which is heavier, 1000 pound of feathers or 1000 pounds of rocks?
To ask you to think that the loads we are using in DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training are actually more demanding that what you are use to using in the gym is crazy, but it is EXACTLY what we are doing!!!
How in the world can such a thing be possible?
The first most obvious answer is that an Ultimate Sandbag is not a static object. The subtle shifts, deviations, movements, are JUST enough to challenge our movement accuracy, but STILL build great levels of strength.
How different? I remember at one of our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training certs we had a coach attend that was just a brick sh%t house! Probably about 6’4, 250 LEAN! In talking about training, he mentioned how he knocked out a set of push presses with 225 for a mere 25 reps!!! Yea, pretty impressive!
So, I thought he would actually destroy our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Clean and Press test! After all, it is over 50% less weight and even though it is double the reps, he did that half of that in ONE set with 225. The thought he could do the test in sub 4 minutes actually crossed my mind.
ultimate sandbag training
The Marines at Camp Foster found the difference of the DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Clean and Press first hand!
He admitted right before the test he didn’t spend much time training for the test. His strength and conditioning would seem as though he wouldn’t need to do much to get prepared so I couldn’t blame him completely, except for one big thing! He had no idea that the Ultimate Sandbag required really precise movement.
The test launch and all that became very apparent quickly. For every one repetition he hit, he ended up missing about 3 or 4! You could see frustration, exhaustion, and bewilderment come over him as the challenge continued. In the FINAL seconds he nailed his final rep, JUST making the required repetitions.
Completely spent, he hit the ground like a ton of bricks. “What the hell!” he shouted! He just couldn’t believe that using the Ultimate Sandbag could be SO different than the barbell. What the Ultimate Sandbag did was expose him to deficiencies in his movement strength.
While most would attribute this type of difference JUST in the instability of the Ultimate Sandbag that really isn’t the case. Because most never really take the time to realize ALL the unique aspects of DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training they immediately jump to the “unstable” side.
They are right and wrong at the same time! You see instability isn’t just about the sand shifting. In fact, when the Ultimate Sandbag is moving up and down the sand isn’t shifting all that much. The major difference lies in the distance from the center of mass of the Ultimate Sandbag and the handles of the Ultimate Sandbag. As Ultimate Sandbags get bigger this difference grows exponentially.
That is why this past weekend during our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training certification I had a coach experience this first hand. While he was dominating the Strength Ultimate Sandbag I told him to move over to the Burly. The weights were about the same so I knew it was well within his ability level. He jumped over and went to clean the Burly Ultimate Sandbag and oooops, didn’t get it!
The Ultimate Sandbag creates a LONGER pull which makes you have to accelerate longer and get the weight higher!
He shot me a glance and a smile really quickly, he understood why I made him make the change. Moving to the Burly made him clean up some technique issues he was able to get away with when he was working on the Strength Ultimate Sandbag.
That is really the beauty of DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training, it makes you be honest about your movement. Every time you think you have it down, just a little change, nuance, alteration of the workout and Ultimate Sandbag makes it feel brand new again!
Experience how DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training changes stability and strength in so many different ways!
So, trying to explain that something that weighs less can be better than something that weighs more isn’t as crazy at it sounds. That is as long as I give you the WHOLE story! Weight isn’t weight and you will find your workouts aren’t the same with DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training.
I slutet av augusti kommer Spartan att hålla utbildning på Factor gym i Västerås.
Factor gym är ett “functional-gym” med Crossfit box. här kan du läsa mer om Factor gym
På Factor gym kommer vi helt att fokusera helt på Kettbellträning och tekniker som passar deras inriktning på träning.
En stor del av vår verksamhet är att just inspirera och utbilda. Vi kan kettlebells, Bulgarian bag, klubbor och mycket annat.
På Factor kombineras styrka och kondition i ett intensivt tempo för att skapa allsidigt tränade människor, som är både starka och uthålliga. Människor som klarar av vardagens utmaningar utan svårigheter; cykla i motvind till jobbet, skotta bort tung snö runt huset eller bära upp tio kassar mat i åttavåningarshuset när hissen är trasig. Människor som också är kapabla att löpa eller cykla långdistanser om så behövs.
Att bli en allsidigt tränad person, med förutsättningar för både vardagens bestyr och högpresterande utmaningar kräver också en allsidig träning. Därför bygger Factor på en mix av de bästa övningarna från bland annat BootCampträning, gymnastik, skivstångsträning och löpning. Funktionella rörelser i kombination med en relativt hög intensitet ger heltäckande träning för hela kroppen. Det är faktiskt inte svårare än så.
Detta är tycker jag en bra artikel kring Excentrisk träning.
Själv har jag upplevt stora fördelar med träningen med fantastiska resultat.. jag kör till största delen i Yoyo-maskinerna vilka ger mycket bra kontakt med musklerna. Bluebrain som är kopplad till Yoyo mäter wattstyrkan som genereras och det är lätt att få protokoll på utväxlingen av träningen…
Vi kommer med all sannolikhet att starta klubbverksamheten den andra halvan av maj.
Vill du vara med från starten så gör du en föranmälan här till oss. [email protected]
Men.. vad innebär det att träna med oss i Spartan kettlebell Club?
Vi kommer att träna kettlebells!
Inriktning på kettbellsporten med Clean, Jerk och Snatch. Du kommer från grunden lära dig korrekt teknik från två av Sveriges mes erfarna kettlebellcoacher. Sportlyften ger dig styrka, uthållighet och explosivitet.
För sportlyften kommer det även att tränas med andra redskap som bygger uthållighet och explosivitet
Ett roligt annorlunda sätt att använda kettlebellen. Kettlebellen kommer mer eller mindre vara i konstant rörelse och vi växlar riktning, moment och lyft..
Kettlebell flow bygger styrka och uthållighet och är vansinnigt roligt och utmanande.
Kettlebell Juggling / Kettlebell jonglerande:
Kondition, styrka, koordination… 30 minuter jonglerande där tiden flyger iväg. Du märker inte förrän efter passet hur mycket träning du fått. Jonglerandeär något vi kör utomhus på en fotbollsplan.
Denna träning kommer att understödjas med:
Knäböj, marklyft, Bulgarian bag, band och klubbor (trä, järn och mace)
Med andra ord, vill du träna på riktigt, ha kul och vara en del i ett fantastiskt gäng så är du välkommen att bli en del av Spartan Kettlebell Club
Many in the iron world have enormous respect for Bruce Lee. From his razor sharp physique to his enormous work ethic to his obvious strength, he is widely respected by lifters worldwide. With his birthday this week I thought a look at how he influenced the world of fitness was due.
Bruce Lee’s system, Jeet Kune Do, revolved around a central theme – absorb what is useful, discard what is useless. This theme is replicated today in thousands of small box gyms all around the world that focus on functional training and getting away from the Frankenstein training craze of the 80s and 90s (where you split the body into an assortment of parts or systems instead of seeking to work it as a single unit).
Lesson #1: Organize Your Workouts by Similarities
Lee himself divided things up different. One of his innovations was to train different aspects of his martial arts on different days. Similar in many ways to a modern split program that might feature strength training one day and conditioning the next, this allowed him to focus better on a smaller number of skills each session.
Punches – Mon/ Wed/ Fri:
- Overhand Cross
- Speed bag workout
Kicks – Tues/ Thurs/ Sat:
- Side Kick
- Hook Kick
- Spin Kick
- Rear and Front Thrust Kick
- Heel Kick
These exercises would be performed on a variety of implements from heavy bags to focus mitts to shadow work.
Lesson one therefore is to split your training into similar actions each day so that you can put more energy into each skill individually. This allows for greater focus as well as making sure your sessions are a reasonable length instead of marathon four-hour sessions. Practicing for such long periods of time will usually mean you are performing each skill or movement poorly, rather than at the peak of your ability. Why train to perform sub optimally?
Lesson #2: Keep It Simple, Stupid
Bruce’s superb physique is great testament to his freaky work ethic. He was one of the very first martial artists to discover and believe fully in strength training. Unlike many in the 70s who believed that weight training would make you muscle bound and slow, Bruce saw the benefits of weight training after a period doing just reverse curls to develop his forearms.
Always ahead of his time his routine wouldn’t be out of place now. Consisting of whole body exercises a typical day looked like this:
Clean and press – 4 sets of 6 reps
- Squat – 4 sets of 6 reps
- Good morning – 4 sets of 6 reps
- Bench press – 4 sets of 5 reps
- Curls – 4 sets of 6 reps
For anyone who cries out in indignation over the inclusion of curls into a full body routine I am reminded of something Randy Couture once said to me, “Anyone who doesn’t think curls are functional has never wrestled.”
Looking at his list of exercises you’d be forgiven for thinking Bruce had somehow traveled into the future and becomes friends with someone like Dan John. His workout is so KISS simple that he could focus on adding load rather than perfecting difficult movements.
Lesson two therefore is to keep your assistance training simple. Most people need to remember that they lift to assist their other activities, not to compete in lifting. You should be looking for the lifts that have the smallest learning curve, yet give the most transfer. The other noteworthy part is that Lee didn’t waste his time on endless reps of bodyweight only exercises. He stuck to known rep ranges for strength and challenged himself to gain strength. These low rep ranges elicit changes in the body’s ability to fire muscles, not in changing their size, keeping Lee fast and light, yet able to hit like a truck.
Lesson #3: Roadwork Does Work
Another piece of Lee’s training puzzle we should note from a function point of view is his use of running and skipping for fitness. Roadwork has fallen out of vogue with today’s crop of HIIT inspired trainers yet all the real greats of fighting have done some form of running, from Ali to Lee.
Bruce would run 4 miles (6kms) three times per week at the start of the day. He would often perform these sessions as a Fartlek type workout, speeding up for short bursts before settling back into his regular pace again. The other three days Lee would skip for thirty minutes at a time. He believed it helped keep him light on his feet as well as helping his fitness. On these days he would also add another forty-five minutes of cycling on an exercise bike for extra fitness work.
Lesson #4: Abdominal Work Is a Good Thing
The final piece of his training puzzle was targeted abdominal work. His ripped waist was clear evidence of time spent on many hard reps. Abdominal training has fallen out of favor in the last few years as research emerges that spinal flexion can cause disc herniation.However, elite athletes all over the world for decades have all believed strongly in supplemental abdominal work.
Research is unclear about whether or not the muscles of the midsection should be trained with high or low reps but Lee favored many high rep sets. Typically using three exercises for five sets each daily. A typical midsection workout might be:
Side bends – 5 sets to failure
- Leg raises – 5 sets to failure
- Sit ups – 5 sets to failure
Looking at how Lee was so far ahead of his time with the rest of his training it wouldn’t surprise me at all to if he was doing some of these days for high reps with low loads and other days with heavy loads and only two to three reps at a time.
The four take away lessons from Bruce Lee’s training are:
Split your sessions into smaller chunks so you can better focus on improving skill.
- Strength train, but keep your main focus on your art. Look to find the simplest exercises you can and milk the most you can from them.
- Don’t neglect roadwork and other endurance work as these form a key role in overall fitness, health, and body composition.
- Targeted abdominal work links the whole thing together and allows better power production as well as forming a protective shield during fighting.
Programming for yourself can be a tricky business. It seems like there is an infinite number of variables to control and consider. But the truth is there’s not.
There are only four.
The Only Important Variables
The exercise itself, volume, intensity, and density are the only things that can be manipulated in a program. Every possible change you can make falls within one of those four categories. And for long-term progress, knowing how to change them, and when, can make all the difference. But it’s not rocket science once you understand the role each element plays.
So, aside from your given exercise, you have these additional variables:
- Volume is a product of how many sets and reps of a given exercise you do, as well how many times per week you do it (also called frequency).
- Intensity is a reference to how heavy you are training in comparison to what would be your absolute potential in that lift (often called a 1RM, or the load you could lift once and once only).
- Density is how fast you can lift your given volume in a workout – 100 reps done at a given load in thirty minutes is a less dense workout than the same reps and weight done in 28 minutes.
1. Exercise Selection
Back when the only training information you could find was a bodybuilding magazine, a lot of articles talked about muscle confusion. Muscle confusion was this idea that by using a different workout every time you trained you’d make more progress. The only problem with that idea is this little principle called SAID – specific adaptation to imposed demand. SAID says you get good at the things you do repeatedly.
If, for instance, you wanted to get really good at push ups and pull ups, you’re going to get better by making sure to do lots of push ups and pull ups in your training. See what I mean by it’s not rocket science?
“Don’t get fooled by so-called muscle confusion and think that you’ll progress faster by swapping your training around every session.”
What SAID does is make you aware of the need for consistency in training. If the event you’re training for has running, then run. If it’s the RKC, then do the basic six RKC movements. If it’s military recruit training, then you need running and calisthenics. Don’t get fooled by so-called muscle confusion and think that you’ll progress faster by swapping your training around every session.
Instead of “mucle confusion,” think specialized variety. Specialized variety exercises are those that are similar to your goal, but just different enough to force some change. This is actually where people got the idea of muscle confusion, but then they took it a step too far. For instance, if my goal is to get better at push ups, I might integrate ring dips, push ups on rings, push ups with my feet on a box – anything that looks similar but isn’t exactly the same push up variation I’ve been working with.
Because kettlebells come in big jumps in size, and a few years ago came in only 8kg jumps, moderating volume and intensity with them is easy. Most guys will have a top weight for most exercises around 32kg. That is, they’ll be able to use the 32kg bells for most exercises, but won’t get a huge number of reps in. The 16kg kettlebells, on the other hand, will be nice and light and guys will feel like they can train with them all day long. Somewhere in the middle of those two extremes are the 24s. The 24s just end up being the Goldilocks bell for most guys, as they can do most things well for a decent number of reps.
“The goal of training is to improve, not test, and by allowing ourselves to have easy sessions with the 16s, we will give the body time to rest, adapt, and improve.”
If we imagine the 16s are 50% of your best, the 24s are 75%, and the 32s are 100%, then we have an easy way to moderate intensity. Given that the average yearly intensity, even for elite strength athletes, is around 72% (+/- 2%) we can do the following:
If you train with 32s today, then train with 16s the next time you train, and 24s the time after. Even if you did the exact same workout, because you’ve changed the intensity, your body will respond differently. The goal of training is to improve, not test, and by allowing ourselves to have easy sessions with the 16s, we will give the body time to rest, adapt, and improve. That’s how supercompensation works.
The take home points with intensity are this:
- Follow every hard workout with an easy one.
- If you’ve got the stones to do hard workouts, then have the stones to be disciplined enough to do the easy days, too.
- If you train more than three times in a week, don’t add extra 100% sessions, add more easy and medium sessions to keep overall intensity around that 72% mark.
We can also make it far simpler to moderate volume than many would have you believe.The important thing to remember is that you won’t be changing volume and intensity at the same time – you only need to change one variable to force adaptation.
Note: For these examples, you would keep the weight the same. Using the above kettlebell examples still, and assuming the 32s are our limit bells, let’s also assume that five sets of five reps in a given exercise is our best effort.
If five sets is our best effort, and we remember that we need to follow our hardest workout with our easiest, then the next workout should be either 2 or 3 sets of 5 or 5 sets of 2 or 3. The reason is that if 25 reps is our best, then we can safely assume that 12 to 15 reps isn’t a huge challenge and will allow us to recover enough to adapt and push harder the next time we get to our hardest workout. In between the hardest and easiest workouts, we’d again have our Goldilocks sessions, which in this case would be something like 5 sets of 4 or 4 sets of 5.
“The important thing to remember is that you won’t be changing volume and intensity at the same time – you only need to change one variable to force adaptation.”
Looking at the rep ranges, if we take 25 reps to be 100%, then the 12 to 15 of the light day is 48-60% and the 20 reps of the medium day is 80%. A week done in this fashion gives you an average intensity of around 78% – a little high, but close enough to allow you to keep progressing long term.
Changing density and waving the effort follows the same pattern. Let’s say that you typically use ten minutes as your goal time. Again, if we’re changing density, we’re only looking to change density while keeping the other variables the same. If you typically perform 50 reps in 10 minutes for your hardest session, then the following workout you’d do 25, with the medium workout having 35, for an average intensity of 73%.
No Recovery, No Improvement
What most people find when starting to use a system like this is that some sessions feel ridiculously easy, especially for those who turn every workout into a competition. But it’s those easy workouts that allow you to improve – without recovery there can be no improvement.
“The exercise you’re dong is the last thing you adapt to. So, while specialized variety can be a great way to inject fresh progress into your training, it is the other variables you should address first.”
And because of the SAID principle, you will get better at the things you do. That means that active rest leads to better gains long term compared to full rest, or days off, as you’re adding exposure to the thing you’re trying to improve, but doing it in a way that doesn’t impair further recovery.
The odd thing about all of this is that it is the exercise you should seek to change last, not first. It’s intensity you adapt to first, followed by volume. The exercise you’re dong is the last thing you adapt to. So, while specialized variety can be a great way to inject fresh progress into your training, it is the other variables you should address first.
Programming for yourself isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s not rocket science either. Just remember:
- Allow yourself the easy days so you can adapt.
- Always follow your hardest day with an easy one.
- Spend more time on easy and medium sessions if you want to improve longer term.
Spartan Kettlebell Club startades för några år sedan men har legat vilande ett tag. Vi tittar nu på möjligheten att starta upp klubben igen med mål att träna kettlebell med inriktning på kettlebell sport, kettlebell jonglering, kettlebell flow och annan rolig funktionell träning med den typ av redskap Spartan introducerat på den Svenska marknaden.
Just nu kollar vi upp intresset i Motala området för att kunna lägga grunden för en fungerande klubb.
Klubben kommer inte drivas med något vinstintresse utan målet är att träna, ha roligt och lära sig mer och det till en låg kostnad.. (täcka kostnad för lokal)
Huvudtränare blir Olof Elwin och Elna Elwin
För att göra en intresse anmälan.. skriv en not i kommentarsfältet eller skicka ett mail till [email protected]
Vill du veta mer.. ring Olof 0707-789299
Det skulle vara mer än roligt att få göra det vi brinner för och att göra det tillsammans.
Should you buy that 48kg kettlebell or buy a second 24kg kettlebell? It all depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Here I discuss several benefits of double kettlebell versus single kettlebell training.
After a while, even the most difficult kettlebell exercises will seem easy (if you train correctly of course). Your high rep sets of Kettlebell Snatches, Kettlebell Swings, and Kettlebell Cleans & Presses will start to seem mundane. If getting strong is your goal, your 16kg kettlebell won’t do much in the way of strength development, no matter how much you slow down your reps for Goblet Squats, Deadlifts, and Strict Presses. In all of these cases, you have two choices: upgrade to heavier kettlebell, or start working with two kettlebells of the same size.
Which option you choose is largely dependent on your programming, both types of training (double kettlebell training and heavy single kettlebell training) have their benefits. Here are three aspects of your training to consider before choosing one over the other. This is, of course, assuming that you have to choose one or the other for financial or space-saving reasons.
CORE STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT WITH KETTLEBELLS
What people call their “core” is an extremely large portion of your body. I consider your core to encompass your body from just below your shoulders to just above your knees. This area of the body includes your chest, abdominals, back, hamstrings, and glutes (essentially the majority of your posterior and anterior chains). Given that this is such a large, strong group of muscles, developing solid strength will require a lot load. So, should you go with a single heavy kettlebell or double kettlebells to up your weight?
In terms of core strength development, a single heavy kettlebell will require a certain amount of core stabilization to control the weight, especially when it’s loaded on one side. If you’re performing a Kettlebell Front Squat, loading a single side with a 48kg kettlebell while leaving the other side free will require you to stabilize that side much more to maintain alignment. However, that assumes that your upper body is strong enough to maintain the rack position while descending into the squat, something that you may not have developed yet.
Conversely, if you use double kettlebells you can get the same amount of load onto your core with two 24kg kettlebells. It won’t require as much core stabilization (it will still require a lot of that too mind you), but it will allow you to maintain the rack position even if a single one of your arms isn’t strong enough to hold a 48kg kettlebell. In addition, rather than worrying about upper body and core stabilization, you’ll be able to focus more on lower body strength development, the reason you’re probably squatting in the first place.
BALLISTIC POWER DEVELOPMENT WITH KETTLEBELLS
One of the key benefits of kettlebell training is the ability to develop power through ballistic exercise. You can perform most ballistic kettlebell exercises, such as your Swings, Cleans, Snatches, and High Pulls, with either one or two kettlebells, but what you choose is dependent on your programming and your skill level.
Like your core strength development, using a single heavy kettlebell for ballistic exercise requires additional core stability in order to maintain alignment. However, if your form in any given exercise isn’t perfect, upping the weight of your kettlebell could be dangerous. During the down swing in each ballistic exercise you’ll be required to provide a counter rotation of your body to resist the pull of weight on one side. If you are not ready to counteract that pull, you could put your back dangerously out of alignment.
Conversely, double kettlebell ballistic exercises can help you build additional explosive power (especially through your hips) without as much risk of bad alignment. Since the weight is balanced, you will be required to counter rotate your body much less, assuming that your form is good and your timing with each rep is perfect. On the flip side of that argument is that if your timing is off, meaning that one kettlebell is rising or descending at a different time as the other kettlebell, you may again create a dangerous situation with your back.
The plus side is that you can always perfect your form with a lighter weight while still increasing your load slightly. Imagine that you want to perform heavier 1-Arm Kettlebell Swings in order to enhance hip explosiveness. You can either up your weight from 16kg to 24kg or use double 12kg weights. Both will increase your load, but one (the single heavy) will require much more grip and forearm strength to use.
KETTLEBELL EXERCISE VERSATILITY
There are literally hundreds of different movements that can be performed with both one kettlebell or double kettlebells, however, some exercises require that you use doubles. Some of these include the Kettlebell Anyhow, Seesaw Press, and Renegade Row. You can perform a variation of each exercise with a single kettlebell, but you won’t get the same benefits of the alternating loads that each exercise requires.
If you’re into perfecting the basics, namely Kettlebell Swings, Kettlebell Snatches, Turkish Get Ups, and Windmills, upping the weight on a single side could improve aspects of the exercise that double kettlebells would not allow. Part of this is due to the fact that you can perform more reps with a single kettlebell versus double kettlebells.
SHOULD YOU GET A HEAVY SINGLE KETTLEBELL OR DOUBLE KETTLEBELLS?
Like I said, it’s totally up to your goals, skills, and finances. Ideally, you would do both heavy single kettlebell training and double kettlebell training to reap the benefits of both. If I personally had to choose between a single heavy and a second kettlebell of a weight I already own, I would probably go with the second kettlebell of the same weight, simply because I prefer doing less reps of more technical exercises, but that’s just me.