The Secret of Kettlebell Training

Kettlebell pistol

The double kettlebell front squat is one of the most effective and simple ways to lose fat. There is no doubt about that. On its own and done with significant volume, performing double kettlebell front squats even with a pair of 24’s will definitely test your core strength and stability. I usually implore the use of this exercise as a finisher to my main workout or when I’m in the mood to test my leg strength.

 Check out the Batman Kettlebell Complex!

When I first attempted the 10 x 10 double kettlebell front squat challenge I literally couldn’t walk upright and walking down or up the stairs literally made me smile with pain. But you know what? I loved it. This is the kind of pain you want to have after you exercise. And no, this is not the pain associated with injury. Learn to discern please or else you’ll be a resident of your local hospital in no time. Call me a masochist but training for DOMS is the only way to get past your limits. I’ve since moved to double 32’s but time and time again I go back to my 24’s for a good ‘ol front squat challenge.

But you don’t always have to go double, though. It’s not really wrong to assume that double kettlebells will yield twice the results. The one assumption I hate is that you won’t get anything out of single kettlebell front squats compared to doubles. That is just wrong. As Andrew Read, my favorite Breaking Muscle author, stated:

The body recognizes effort not load, so as long as the tool being lifted is difficult, the body will respond.

If you don’t believe me, try it out yourself. Go grab a pair of 24’s (or your “middle” weight kettlebells) and perform 5 front squats. Now do the same with your one heavy bell that isn’t heavier than the sum of your middle weight kettlebell (in my case, it’s 32 kg). Now rack it up on either arm and do 5 front squats.

Do not even think that just because you can do the double version of a kettlebell exercise you can already skip using one kettlebell.

What did you notice? It wasn’t heavier and yet it felt harder to do, right? How about you try pressing the two kettlebells up and squat vs one single kettlebell? It would certainly be harder with one kettlebell to maintain perfect equilibrium on pressing the weight on one side and maintaining your center of gravity while you squat down and back up. If you’re up for a real challenge, perform a double kettlebell pistol squat vs a pistol squat with one kettlebell racked on either your left or right. I guarantee you that one kettlebell will bring you back down to Earth my friend. You’d be wobbly or leaning to one side despite all your efforts to maintain stability and that is what I call the secret of kettlebell training.

pistol squat

If kettlebells are good at anything at all (and believe me, they’re good at a lot of things), it would be training the muscles that control balance. For me, this would be their prime advantage against barbells. Kettlebells make sure your body’s muscles are always alert and never relaxed at any point during the exercise. This is all because your body is literally struggling to maintain balance. This means much more calories burned, more muscles are trained, and you will definitely be much more focused out of fear of falling to one side.

Still don’t believe me? Go ahead and try other workouts with your pair of your mids vs a single heavy. You’d slowly realize that going double does not necessarily mean you’re getting better. Going double, for kettlebell training sake, simply means you are ready for heavier loads. Do not even think that just because you can do the double version of a kettlebell exercise you can already skip using one kettlebell. If you do then that would be one of the biggest mistakes you would ever make. It pays to go back to basics and more often than not you’d realize that using one kettlebell informs you of major imbalance weaknesses. And yes, single kettlebell training will also cure it for you. How cool is that?

Kettlebell pistol

I myself mostly train with two kettlebells but I never really forget to go back to using one. I admire people who make a pair of 32’s like a pair of 8’s but there’s something impressive about a person who has perfect balance despite the heavy load they carry on one side or the other. I personally even suggest you implore the use of imbalanced training to help you break past your plateaus.

Robert James
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