Is Double Kettlebell Training Right [Now] For You?

Some things come easily to some people. We all know those people who can play 17 different musical instruments. Or those who can sit down and draw perfect pictures from memory. Or those who can beat their PlayStation at any given game. The list goes on and on…

For me, none of it is easy. But some of it is fun.

One of those things is double kettlebell lifting. I guess it’s because I have a background in Olympic lifting.

It seems that the trend in kettlebell lifting is, well, confusing…

Here’s what I mean…

We’ve got a crew who say we should focus on the basics. Swings, Get Ups, Swings, Get Ups, etc. And they’re right. There is so much to be learned about your body with just those 2 exercises. I won’t argue that.

And then we have the release a couple of months ago of Pavel’s new book, Return of the Kettlebell, (if you don’t have it, get it!) which focuses on double kettlebell drills for not only building muscle, but getting strong as an ox.

Who’s right?


I just depends on two things and two things only:

  1. Your goals.
  2. Your limitations.

Let’s take a closer look.

Your goals. Ok, reality check here. It doesn’t really matter what your goals are, double kettlebell work will get you there faster. Why? (I know, kind of reckless of me to paint with a broad brush like that…) Because the strain two kettlebells place on the body is greater, in most cases, than one. So, greater strain equals greater overload. Since the only way to progress is to follow the Progressive Overload method, than you will theoretically progress faster with two bells.

Your limitations. Ok, ‘nother reality check here. Your goals are subject to your limitations. So, if you want to press two 48kg bells over your head, but your left shoulder is jacked up, then double kettlebell lifting is probably not for you. You fall into the category of people who need to spend a lot of time on the Swings and Get Ups. And that’s ok. Develop a plan to get you from where you are to where you want to be. Then test your plan. If you’re making progress, then your plan is working. If you’re not, then you need to change your plan.

So, how do you decide if you’re ready for double kettlebell training?

I’ll dig into that further in my next post…

10 comments… add one
  • Rick Sep 24, 2009 @ 20:43


    I would like to know your opinion. I have a 16kg kettlebell at home, that’s all I have and I love it. I would like to increase the intensity of the swings, snatches and cleans among others.

    Would you recommend me to buy a hevier KB or to buy one of the same weight to do double lifts?

    You say that the progress is faster with two KB but because the one I have is not heavy, I would like to know what you think.

  • Grampa Sep 24, 2009 @ 21:00

    Leaving me hangin man… No I’m just kidding, my guess would be when you have a strong posterial chain.

  • Philippe Sep 24, 2009 @ 22:13

    How about your budget limits you to one KB (got doubles till 24, but 28-40 are singles…) but have a full adjustable squat/bench rack, powerblocks going from 5-90lb, Ironmind Dip/Pull-up belt?
    I tried to double-snatch my 9′ surfboards, but my wingspan isn’t quite like KJ’s…

  • Russ Moon Sep 24, 2009 @ 23:48

    Return of the Kettlebell – got it but I know I’m still a newb

    Double presses, Double swings, Deadlifts, Front Squats and now snatches…very intense with two. I really have to center myself just to keep 2 54 lbers from pulling me over. I agree it is more tension.

    Interested to hear about your complexes and how you link the exercises together with one routine for endurance and one for brute power.

    After the doubles when you go back to just one at a time it does seem a bit easier. Swinging two vs one, snatching two vs one, pressing two vs one, at least to my body. They seem to compliment each other, but that’s just my opinion and I don’t claim to be an expert. Just experimenting to see what moves my training forward safely.

  • Sandy Sommer, RKC Sep 26, 2009 @ 10:30

    For newbies, Pavel’s specific recommendation in ROTK is this: if you can’t do 200 snatches with the 24 kg bell and press 1/2 bodyweight than you whould shelve the book until you can.

  • John Williams Sep 26, 2009 @ 13:10

    I agree with Russ, for the most part and would like to add the at first I teach people to do the double swing to get them to the double clean, from there (once they have a good solid double clean) we can go to presses like the see saw, or double press or double squats etc. I don’t really see the need to do double snatches but could find a place for them in my routine.

    The double swing is humbling for folks that are feeling thier oats and start to get sloppy. It brings them back to understanding that proper technique is very important.

    John Williams

  • Russ Moon Sep 29, 2009 @ 16:39

    Yes, I read the disclaimer in the front of “Return of the Kettlebell” but decided that the exercises might actually increase my strength and endurance to help me achieve those goals faster. Lost another 18 pounds (38 total since January) and boosted my presses from 10 with 1 54 to 25 with one 70 through the double kettlebell exercises. Hard for me at this point to justify putting them down. I do follow 99.9% of everything else Pavel writes and find his teachings to be genius.

  • GEOFFN Sep 29, 2009 @ 17:33

    Rick – it could go either way, depending on your goals. I prefer double work to single work, but I recognize and program in the singles work in my programs, based on my needs at the time. You have to make the call…

    Philippe – if you have those tools at your disposal, have at it, my man. They’re all good. You can get strong using anything – rocks, towels, surfboards, barbells, kettlebells – the key is to overload the body, the system, to make progress. BTW, hard to take a barbell and rack to the beach…

    Russ – I’m with you on RTK – congrats on your results – that’s EXACTLY what I’m talking about! Complexes: endurance = more reps, less rest; power = less reps, more rest.

    John – Good teaching rationale and progressions. Mine are a little different…

    Grampa – Not quite, but close…

  • Philippe Oct 2, 2009 @ 19:24

    Thanks, Geoff.

    Btw, they have Muscle Beach in Venice, racks and barbells. So there!

    See if you can do that in SD!

  • Wendy Beitel, RKC Oct 5, 2009 @ 4:18

    Thanks for the reminder of double bell work. I was using them off and on in my classes and then started incorporating them into at least a portion of each class. I have had great response from the clients. In particular, they really like the double clean and press. They feel stronger and more stable because you lose the ability to lean and do a side or bent press when you are pressing both bells together.

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