When should you stick to single KB workout programs?

When should you stick to single KB workout programs?

A lot of people know me as “the double kettlebell guy” because I’m a BIG advocate of double KB work.

But not everyone needs to or should do double KB exercises.

Shocking, I know.

How do you know if you fall into that category?

Of whether or not you should be using a pair of KBs?

Let’s take a closer look…

[1]  Skill Level

If you’re new to kettlebell training, you should learn your skills with the single KB exercises first, before moving on the doubles.

I have a whole video series on my YouTube channel about the “5 Levels of Kettlebell Training” which you can check out here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxCVNgXEwrg&t=48s

I go into great detail of the “why” and “how” behind this topic.

[2]  Injury

If you’ve had an injury, I generally recommend you start your training again with the single KB exercises.

This allows you to address discrepancies in strength loss and range of motion loss between the two sides of your body.

Or in case of a lower back injury, you’ll be using less load so there’s typically less chance of reinjuring yourself.

[3]  Asymmetries 

Similar to injuries, many of us have asymmetries between the sides of our bodies.

Loading up with a pair of KBs all the time is a great way to reinforce those asymmetries, which if not addressed, can lead to an injury or multiple injuries in the long run.

For example, my left arm doesn’t fully bend or extend as a result of breaking my arm when I was 16. As a result, my arms are asymmetrical on lockouts overhead and doing barbell work. 

And as a result, I’ve found that 2-Hand Swings irritate my lower back, but 1H-Swings are just fine.

I can also tell a major difference in heavy TGUs. I need more shoulder flexion on my left than on my right to keep the bell overhead to compensate for the loss of ROM at the elbow.

In the rehab world, there should be no more than a 10% difference between sides.

So that means if you can Press your 24kg for 5 with your right hand, and only for 3 with your left, you need to work on that. 

(Personally, if your R is at 5 and even 4 with the L is a struggle, you should focus on making that 4 easier, and strive for a hard 5.)

[4]  Power Training

Power is a measure of work and it’s a quality you can, and should train for.

We typically think of power expressing itself in sprinting, jumping, or throwing.

But it’s actually expressed in managing NOT to fall too, which is a trait or quality we all need as we get older.

Furthermore:

[1]  You can develop a fair amount of muscle from “just” power training

[2]  You can get stronger from “just” power training

[3]  Power training improves carbohydrate utilization and improves your health

Power is typically developed with lower reps, and higher sets, in a range of about 30-40% of your bodyweight for Swings, and, if memory serves me correctly, about 26-32% of bodyweight for Snatches.

Sure, you could use doubles here, but I find a single KB is literally one less thing to think about and distract me from producing as much power as possible. 

My preference is the Snatch.

[NOTE: Yes, I’m a BIG FAN of the double KB Clean + Jerk. BUT… you can produce more power with the Snatch, it’s easier to learn, and it requires less shoulder and thoracic spine mobility than the double Jerk.]

So there you have it.

4 different reasons to preferentially use single KB lifts over double KB lifts.

Stay Strong,

Geoff

P.S. If you need a single KB based program, here are a couple that will help you out:

👉 [1]  Swing-based Programming

https://salutis.kartra.com/page/SWING-HARD-2

👉 [2]  Snatch-based Programming

https://cart.chasingstrength.com/ksk2

👉 [3]  Multi-Single KB exercise programming for stripping off fat

https://go.chasingstrength.com/burn-sa3/

👉 And if you’re not sure how to perform all the single KB exercises or know you need to refine your technique so you don’t hurt yourself, I recommend using this course.

https://salutis.kartra.com/page/BIG6-2

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