Which is Better: Single or Double Kettlebell Workouts?
Both single and double kettlebell workouts offer a variety of benefits, but which one is better? Here are a few questions to consider before deciding which is best for you.
The answer to that question above largely depends on what your fitness goals are. The benefits of double kettlebell workouts are numerous, but here are a few questions to explore before doing double work over single arm work. Of course, good programming will include both type s of workouts with regular frequency.
Which type of Workout is Better for Core Development?
Developing a strong core, an area that includes your chest, abdominals, back, hamstrings, and glutes, is important for optimal health, performance and injury prevention.
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In terms of core engagement, a single heavy kettlebell will engage the core to a far greater degree than a double kettlebell workout. Anytime one side of the body is loaded with a single heavy kettlebell, the other side must engage to keep the body from swaying or rotating. This forces the core to contract and stay contract through each movement.
When doing double kettlebell workouts, both sides are loaded equally, which helps your body stay in balance. The core will still be engaged, but to a lesser degree. This is great for double kettlebell workouts because often the weight used is much greater and will all you to focus more on moving the weight and less on not falling over.
Are Double Kettlebell Workouts better for power development?
One of the key benefits of kettlebell workouts is the ability to develop power through ballistic power exercise. You can perform most ballistic kettlebell exercises, such as your Swings, Cleans, Snatches, and High Pulls, with either one bell or through a double kettlebell workout, 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 workouts 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 to double kettlebell workouts 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.
Which Kettlebell Exercises are more Versatile?
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 a double kettlebell workout would not allow. Part of this is due to the fact that you can perform more reps with a single kettlebell versus double kettlebells.
So, which is better – Single or Double Kettlebell Workouts?
Like I said, it’s totally up to your goals. Ideally, you would do both heavy single kettlebell workouts and double kettlebell workouts 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 double kettlebell workouts using two bells of the same weight, simply because I prefer doing less reps of more technical exercises, but that’s just me.
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