I got a great email from a customer named Jeff last week
about double KB training.
Here was his question:
“I really like the DBL. Clean & Press program but my
problem after reading one of your e-mails on ” How
do you know you are ready for Double KB workouts/
I your e-mail you stated the bench mark is a 24 kg bell
on all Single KB Exercises.
I am not there yet so should I continue with my goals
using the `Strong Program` or should I step back as
Pavel says and complete the task of reaching the required
strength goals using a Single KB 24Kg?
I did the 8 week Strong program ( 2-30Lb KB’s)
and made good progress( Lost 20 lbs 2 belt sizes
and got stronger). I am floundering what to do.
I am confused.
Any thoughts would be appreciated.”
I have a couple of thoughts for Jeff, and for you if
this question has been rattling around in your head.
I set my standard of the 24kg based on experience and
the fact that it was standard issue for the Soviet military…
I still think this is a good benchmark. You can’t go wrong
if you’ve built up this level of strength.
There are 3 reasons I can think of off the top of my head that I
could be wrong about this.
1. Math and the Overload Principle
We all know by now that using a pair of KBs places greater
systemic stress or demand on the body as a whole.
What that means is by using a pair of KBs you can potentially
get stronger faster than you could by using just one KB.
You create more “overload” on the body, which is one of the
keys for growth… for progress. (Called “The Overload Principle”
in sports/exercise science.)
So… If you like double KBs, why not go ahead and do them?
Just make sure you have your single KB technique down pat.
In fact, one could make the argument that you could get your
single KB strength up faster by combining single AND double KB
work rather than just single KB work alone due to the greater
overload on your body from a pair of KBs rather than just one
A pair of 16s is going to produce a greater demand on the body
then a 24kg.
Math. Simple addition.
32kg is more than 24kg.
Here’s something else to consider:
That’s right – a big man will find a 24kg relatively easy.
A smaller framed man probably won’t.
It’s relative to the size of the individual.
So is past training experience.
When I first started using KBs, I was a competitive Olympic
lifter and weighed between 220-230lb. A 32kg was a toy to me.
In fact, at my RKC I used a pair of 32s for pretty much
everything. So my background dictated the size of the KB I
could and did use.
So keep that in mind.
And the same thing is true for a women.
A smaller woman may struggle compared to a larger woman to gain
strength with that 16kg.
A 16kg will feel much different to a petite framed 105lb woman
who has never lifted a weight in her life compared to a 145lb
former college athlete with a history of weight training.
Same is true to a 185lb woman struggling to lose weight. Even
though she’s heavier than she wants to be, her body has
accommodated to that extra weight she’s carrying around and
she’s stronger than she thinks she is, whether she’s weight-
trained or not. (Seen this more than a few times.)
Furthermore, if I throw EVERYONE in the same category, someone
who has 20+ pounds of fat to lose may have a very hard time
getting off the floor doing a Get Up with his/her bodyweight
never mind with a 24kg or 16kg KB.
But they may have no problem squatting it or pressing it.
This may or may not have been Jeff’s case – I didn’t ask. One
thing’s for sure though:
Now that he’s 20 pounds lighter and has lost inches off his
waist, he’s healthier and stronger and if that 24kg Get Up
was out of reach before, it’s closer now than it has been
in awhile, if not ever.
And finally – and this may be the most important reason of them
3. Enjoyability = Consistency = Results
So what if Jeff can’t use a 24kg for all the single KB
He got results – really, really good ones! He “lost 20lbs and
2 belt sizes and got stronger.”
More importantly – he really enjoys the double C+P, which is
an often overlooked point in any exercise program –
Enjoyability breeds consistency.
And consistency is what produces results.
(Well that and a good program to follow.)
Would Jeff had gotten the same results from following a single
Maybe. Maybe not.
Can’t say because hindsight is 20/20 and it’s always easy to
But the fact that Jeff really likes the double C+P speaks
He might not have stuck with his plan if he had just used
There are probably other reasons I’m missing here but I think
these are the biggest 3 of why I might’ve been wrong to make
you think that in order to use a pair of KBs successfully you
need to be able to use a 24kg as a man or a 16kg as a woman
on ALL single KB exercises –
Like it was written in stone.
It’s a guideline. A rule of thumb. NOT a law of the universe.
And since it’s not a law of the universe, if you’ve been
wondering whether or not double KB training is for you,
hopefully this clears some things up for you.
One thing that is as close to a universal law is this:
Double KB training is NOT for beginners.
You need to know how to perform and feel comfortable with
(i.e. they feel easy) the single KB lifts.
If you’re not a beginner and have been contemplating using
a pair of KBs for faster results in your strength, fat loss,
and conditioning, but haven’t started yet due to confusion
or some other reason –
Now is the time to get started with “Kettlebell STRONG!” –
A 3.5 hour 2-DVD instructional set and 89-page “filler-
and-fluff-free” book, including the common double KB mistakes
and how to not only avoid them, but correct them if you’re