Dear Coach: Are Double or Single Kettlebells Better?

After reading Andrew’s article on how to build muscle in grapplers, a reader has a question – does he really have to use double kettlebells for the routine, or can he get the benefits using one?

Dear Coach,

Hey, this is a question for Andrew Read or whoever can answer it really, but in regards to the article on Adding Muscle with Kettlebells: How I Build Up My Grapplers, is it a must to use two kettlebells simultaneously? Or will doing one on one side and then switching work?


One Lump or Two

Dear Lump One or Two,

The routine can be done with either one or two kettlebells, but you won’t get the same result. One of the keys to quickly forcing change in your body is load, and with only one kettlebell you’ve only got half the load on the body.

That’s not to say you won’t get great benefits from grip strength or conditioning, but when it comes to gaining muscle from a workout like this having two kettlebells makes all the difference. I also believe it gets the fighter used to having lots of weight on them for long periods of time, like they’re forced to endure when working on the bottom while grappling.

Looking at some of the research on the jerk it shows great transfer to increasing speed and power when used in loads of roughly one third of body weight. So while you won’t get the mass gains like you will with two bells you will be able to train speed better. If I were training an MMA fighter I would now use both single and double bell workouts to address both sides of the force/velocity curve – heavy doubles for force production and a lighter single bell for speed. For grapplers, however, I’d just stick with the double bells as they don’t have the same need for speed that a striker does.

Coach Andrew Read

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