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How To Increase Kettlebell Weight

Despite their versatility, kettle bells have one primary drawback: the gap in available sizes presents a significant increase in weight. For example, sizing up from a 24 kg kettle bell to 28 kg means a 16.7% increase in weight.

author
Ellen Grant
• Tuesday, 13 October, 2020
• 7 min read
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To add to the dilemma, the price (and shipping cost) of building a complete set of kettle bells can get expensive in a hurry. So how can you optimize the training effect while safely increasing weight and not breaking the bank?

I will lay out a set of guidelines to help you determine when you are ready to make a jump and how to do so safely. Increasing your weight in each area requires a different strategy and set of criteria.

These criteria are not set in stone and do not need to be completely satisfied to safely size up. Your primary criteria should be the ability to demonstrate smooth proficiency and feel a sense of ease with your current selection of kettle bells.

These strategies focus on introducing the next weight at a pace that allows your body to adapt to the increased load. They utilize scaled versions of the desired movements, sets with low repetitions, and structured rest intervals.

The aim is to allow your body to feel the demand of the new challenge with ample recovery to maintain your form and composure. These guidelines seek to determine the level of proficiency with which you can both move and stabilize the weight overhead.

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If you pass the above or similar tests, you can feel confident in sizing up. Begin by developing the ability to control and stabilize the new weight overhead.

Windmill — Do not feel the need to prioritize touching the ground or maintaining perfectly locked out legs. The point of these windmills is to test and develop your overhead control of the heavier kettle bell.

Pull ups and rows add a perfect accessory compliment to high volume pressing for maximal strength gain. If you are a competent swinger, playing with a heavier weight will not only make you stronger and more explosive, but will also force you to maintain perfect form in the areas that you might have slacked.

These guidelines aim to determine the proficiency in your swing form, and your ability to maintain it. If you pass the above tests and/or feel a sense that you can smoothly move your bell for extended sets or complexes, you can feel confident and safe in swinging a larger bell.

You have my permission to simply try a few swings with a heavier bell, no other preparation (except a proper warm up) required. The rule of thumb is to begin with low repetition and ample rest.

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This movement pattern is nearly identical to your swing form and will allow you to adapt to moving the heavier bell. Stay in the bottom position and simply let the bell pendulum forward.

You can perform these as single repetitions by allowing the bell to rest on the ground between swings or link multiple repetitions together by actively pulling the bell back as its begins to swing toward you. The focus of these workouts is to allow you to feel the new weight in a challenging yet safe manner.

You want to challenge yourself to continue moving, yet allow ample rest to maintain your form. Whether you are a novice or a seasoned veteran with the Kettle bells, there are still several goals that all of us trainers share in regard to getting stronger.

We can also become “stronger” by increasing our work capacity by completing a certain number of repetitions with a particular weight in a reduced amount of time. In the most simplistic example of increasing your strength is simply completing an exercise with a weight you were not previously able to do.

Sounds simple when boiled down, however, the truth is that moving up with the Kettle bells can be more difficult than other traditional strength training exercises. The first principle, “technique first” should be pretty self-explanatory but I still witness many people sacrificing form for more weight.

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Compromising form for the sake of weight can lead to strains, pain and potential injuries. Doing it to frequent- LY can take the body a long time to recover and can hinder overall performance.

Kettle bell 2- Arm Swings are generally not too difficult to move up when you have good technique; you may just have to perform fewer repetitions initially until you can complete more. The 1-Arm Swing on the other hand, is much more difficult to move up and there might be a difference in strength and endurance in your non-dominant arm.

As you get more accustomed to the heavier weight, start performing more than one repetition in a row with good technique before you set the Kettle bell down. The theory behind using this drill is that it is common to struggle to perform multiple 1-Arm Swing repetitions with a heavier Kettle bell.

Having the new kettle bell in the racked post- tion for practice’s sake is a great way to get used to the weight during the Clean. You will spend about 30 seconds or more in the rack position when you Farmer Walk and this gets your shoulders, core, and legs used to this weight.

Now that your body has adapted, when you go to practice your heavy Cleans you have trained both your Swings and rack position with the new weight, so all that is left is getting the transition between the two. In the Guided Clean, you are going to use your free hand to assist the heavy kettle- bell from your swing into the racked position.

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As you get better and better, you can gradually take the amount of assistance away from the Kettle bell until you are performing an unassisted Clean with your new weight. Put your heavy Kettle bell overhead, lock the shoulders in, and then take it for a walk.

I also like to make sure that I have to turn around with the weight because it is a greater challenge of stability for the entire body. Instead, the TGU is a slow grind where you need to increase your strength and time under the Kettle bell to ramp up the weight.

Arguably the first movement of the TGU is the most difficult and will make or break your success of the whole sequence. Take the next weight up you would like to be successful with and perform Sit Up repetitions executing proper technique.

If you can work up to multiple sets of 5-6 repetitions, the chances of completing a full TGU are looking good. The second drill is doing half of the full TGU movement, allowing you time under the Kettle bell that will build up crucial shoulder strength and endurance.

If I am going to incorporate the Half TGU drill with a new weight, I am going to do it from the top to the bottom position. Knowing when to increase or decrease your kettlebellweight can mean the difference between success, making very slow progress or dare I say it, injury.

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Consistency can be a challenge for many people which is why I’m a firm believer in building exercises habits. You don’t always need to be doing the best exercises or pushing yourself, just showing up and doing something is a positive step towards making progress.

Progression in its simplest terms just means challenging your body so it is forced to make adaptations e.g. Let's take a look at each of these progression options and see how they can be implemented into your kettle bell training program.

Everyone is different and depending on: age, diet, sleep, genetics, experience etc. However, I would recommend that everyone err on the side of caution and progress slowly rather than too quickly.

I also recommend adding progression goals into your workouts to help improve focus and motivation. If your goals are more strength based then you would allow longer between exercises whereas for cardio gains you would allow less, perhaps only 10-30 seconds.

Double Clean and Press x 8 Rest 90 seconds Repeat for 3 – 5 sets Kettle bell Swings x 25 Rest 30 seconds Repeat a total of 4 times

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Adding more load to an exercise by increasing the weight of the kettle bell is a simple way to add progression to your workout program. Using the two methods above of increasing repetitions/duration or reducing rest periods should be done first before adding more load.

I like to give the body good exposure to a lighter load before adding more. Here are the goals I set for my clients before moving up a weight :

Once these goals are met Men will increase to a 16 kg (35lbs) and Women to a 12 kg (25lbs) for the Two Handed Swing. Let’s say you only have a 16 kg (35lbs) kettle bell and you work your way up to 60 seconds of non-stop two handed swings.

Based on the progression options laid out above adding more weight is often the more risky solution. Progressing slowly and logically by increasing the repetitions/duration and then reducing rest periods is a safer place to start.

Once you have provided adequate exposure to the kettlebellweight and expired all other training options then adding more weight is the next logical step. Two Handed Kettle bell Swing — 60 secs (work up to this slowly by adding more reps each workout and reducing rest periods) One Handed Swing — 60 secs each side (as above work up to this slowly) Increase the weight and start the process again

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I outline exactly how to progress the kettle bell swing daily in my 21-Day Kettle bell Swing program demonstrating how you can reach valuable milestone and mix up exercises, rest periods and repetitions.

Related Videos

Sources
1 breakingmuscle.com - https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/sizing-up-how-and-when-to-increase-your-kettlebell-weight
2 www.onnit.com - https://www.onnit.com/academy/4-kettlebell-exercise-rules-for-increasing-kettlebell-weight/
3 kettlebellsworkouts.com - https://kettlebellsworkouts.com/when-to-increase-the-kettlebell-weight/