If you’re not familiar with the clean, let Innit Coach Eric Lava, aka “Primal Soldier,” bring you up to speed. Keeping your head, spine, and pelvis in a straight line, bend your hips back to reach down and grasp the kettle bell.
(Don’t crush it; a somewhat soft grip will allow you to spin the weight around your wrist more easily when you clean it.) From the standing position with the bell racked at the shoulder (after you’ve cleaned it), the single-arm kettlebellfrontsquat goes as follows.
Step 1: Hold the kettle bell with your forearm as vertical as possible and your wrist straight. Turn your toes to point out slightly—more if you have trouble squatting deeply, and less if you’re fairly mobile in your hips.
Take a deep breath into your belly, and actively twist your feet into the floor, but don’t let them move. You should feel the arches in your feet rise and your glutes tighten, creating tension in the lower body.
Step 2: Squat as low as you can while keeping your head, spine, and pelvis aligned, and pushing your knees apart. Keep your torso as vertical as possible—you shouldn’t have to lean forward or work extra hard to hold the bell upright.
Holding a load in front of your body acts as a counterbalance, so that when you squat, you’re able to sit back with your hips as you descend with little fear of losing your balance. This better activates your glutes and hamstrings while allowing you to keep an upright, vertical torso, and is much safer for the lower back than barbell back squatting (which often results in a forward lean of the torso that puts the lumbar spine at risk).
The weight wants to pull you forward, so you have to battle to stay tall with good posture. So, while it provides a great workout for a trainee of any level on its own, the kettlebellfrontsquat also serves as a stepping stone to mastering more complex lifts.
As so many activities in sports and in life require you to stabilize an uneven load (throwing a ball, carrying objects, holding an opponent in a grappling drill), the single-arm kettlebellfrontsquat is highly applicable. Because it allows for such a deep squat, you can be sure you’ll work your quads hard through a big range of motion, while also recruiting the glutes and hamstrings.
Kettlebellfront squats can be done heavy for low reps to build maximum strength and muscle, and lighter for higher reps as part of a conditioning circuit or kettle bell complex (in which multiple exercises are strung together). The kettlebellfrontsquat is an essential move one must know in order to link other exercises together in a complex or “flow.” For example, you can clean a kettle bell, go right into a squat, and then come up and press it overhead.
Or row the bell from the floor, and then clean it, squat it, and step back into a reverse lunge. So, owning good front squat mechanics with the kettle bell opens up a range of movement that leads to endless training possibilities.
Quadriceps hamstrings glutes internal and external obliques' rectus abdominal (the six-pack muscle) spinal erectors transverse abdominal (deep core muscle) multimedia (core) front and lateral deltoid latissimus Doris trapezium rhomboids forearm flexors Use these drills to warm up and help mobilize your hips, upper back, and shoulders before you train any kettlebellfrontsquat variation.
The single-arm kettlebellfrontsquat can be done by inexperienced lifters and advanced athletes alike, but if your brand new to kettle bell training, you should master the basic goblet squat first. Also, stabilizing one kettle bell (or dumbbell) with both hands is less complex than controlling a bell with only one arm.
Take a deep breath into your belly, and twist your feet into the floor to create tension. The landmine—a long metal cylinder in which you can load one end of a barbell—provides the freedom of movement that makes free weights great, but with a little more stability and an arc of motion that’s easier on the joints.
Begin pushing through your heels to extend your hips and knees and pull the bar off the floor. Drop into a full squat, keeping the end of the bar in front of your shoulder.
Whether you are looking to burn fat, increase muscle, maintain good joint health or improve your cardio the kettlebellfrontsquat is a great choice. Activates the often lazy buttock muscles Increases hormonal responses through the body for better growth Improves core strength and stabilization unlike the back squat Develops better joint health through regular pumping of nutrients Speeds up metabolism for fat burning 24/7 Challenges cardio without the need to move your feet
The squat is a vital human movement pattern that is used in daily life whether getting in and out of your car or sitting and standing from a chair. Don’t wing your elbow out to the side or allow the kettle bell to drift forwards off the chest.
If this happens your shoulder will get tired quickly and even the worst may result in an injury to your rotator cuff muscles. Stop at the bottom position and pause for 3 seconds before pushing the floor away from you and standing up.
At the top position squeeze your buttocks tightly together and don’t lean backwards. If during the squat exercise your shoulder does begin to fatigue then you can use your opposite hand to help support the kettle bell.
Many people have weak buttocks and hips and therefore tend to find their knees caving in towards each other during the squatting movement. You must work hard to prevent this from happening by pushing your knees outwards during all phases of the squat movement.
The double kettlebellfrontsquat enables you to overload the movement as well as balance out the load on both sides of the body. You can link fingers to help keep the kettle bell handles together if you find that more comfortable.
After each set just change sides so the heavier kettle bell is now being held in the opposite hand. For those short on time or wishing to choose an exercise that is effective for fat loss then the kettlebellfrontsquat to overhead press is a great choice.
Beginners can practice this exercise by holding the kettle bell in both hands and performing the squat and then the overhead press. As this exercise is very demanding and uses most of the muscles in your body you need to be careful with your technique as you quickly start to fatigue.
The kettle bell is held with both hands at chest height which helps balance the squatting movement. The kettlebellfrontsquat loads the one side of the body and also challenges the one shoulder more intensely than the goblet squat.
The double kettlebellsquat has the added bonus of being able to load the body more comfortably than holding the equivalent weight in just one kettle bell. Barbell front squats are an excellent choice for building sheer strength and bulk in the legs, buttocks and hips.
However, the kettlebellfrontsquat offers more muscle activation than the barbell front squat due to the complexities of holding two kettle bells. Holding one kettle bell in each hand and then squatting ensures a better balance throughout the body as each shoulder is working independently compared to the other.
You will also find that due to the more forward position of the kettle bells during the squatting movement that the core muscles are forced to work even harder to stabilize the upper body. You could easily change the double kettlebellfrontsquat for the goblet squat or single-handed front squat, just remember to balance out your left and right sides.
The squat also keeps the joints healthy, helps promote fat loss, and challenges your cardio without the need to move your feet. The double kettlebellfrontsquat is excellent for developing brute strength and overload the squatting movement.
“Well, that sucked.” My client uncracked the kettle bells and put them on the ground, still contemplating how in the world he got crushed by such little weight (comparatively speaking of course). Here I was taking this guy who considered himself to be pretty strong (and to his credit he was — he could do a mid-300lb front squat relatively easily), and putting him on the struggle-bus with a pair of 24 kg kettle bells.
If you’ve spent any time in the gym whatsoever you know this feeling, and it isn’t fun. Whether your goal is to get stronger, move better, burn fat, or be more athletic, the two- kettlebellfrontsquat has you covered.
The two- kettlebellfrontsquat (2 KB FS) should make its way into your program for a host of reasons, but here’s short list to get you started. You’ll never be able to load a 2 KB FS at like you do a traditional front squat with a barbell, but that doesn’t mean it won’t help you get strong.
Granted, the barbell front squat is superior if we’re talking pure lower-body strength, but the increased instability of the kettle bells makes up for the lack of load. In fact, most people feel like a rock when they return to the barbell after a cycle with the kettle bells.
By loading the kettle bells anteriorly you put your core on overdrive and force it to maintain position. A lot of people get into trouble because they lack stability from the right places, and this exercise helps correct that.
The placement of the kettle bells and the increased recruitment of your core makes this one of the best variations to work on grooving this up-and-down pattern. Many people lack the ability to fill up their posterior mediastinum bilaterally when they breathe.
By putting them in the bottom of a squat and biasing a little flexion, I can work on breathing properly and getting air into both chest walls (it’s a little more complicated than that, but you get the picture). Set Your Feet — This could easily be step one, but most people need a little of a wider base to clean the kettle bells up.
Either way, I want your feet shoulder width apart, and toes straight ahead or turned out five to ten degrees. Get “Neutral” — Go ahead and exhale, bringing your ribs down and hips underneath you.
If you don’t feel your hamstrings, then think about digging your heels into the ground as you exhale. Be sure to keep your hips underneath you and don’t let them fly out (aka the stripper squat).
We want motion coming from your hips and the opening of your pelvic floor, not from your low back. Drifting to the Right — We’re all susceptible to like the back of our right hip more than our left, so be cautious of this while you squat.
A great cue for people struggling with this is to think about finding the inside of their right foot and their left heel throughout the range of motion. Stripper Squat — The hips should stay underneath you, so keep them under control for the time being.
It’s more about solidifying good movement quality and developing a rock solid core. Either way, the whole idea is to grant you access to a range of motion you aren’t that familiar with, so you can solidify it during the strength movement.
Once this squat looks rock solid, I feel great about the option of putting a barbell in someone’s hands and having them crush a front squat. But it’s a tool that helps solidify good movement, builds lower-body strength, and locks up an unstable core.
We all love new personal records, especially when they are one-rep max or max-rep records —that first time dead lifting your body weight or ten pounds more than your last TSC, the first pull-up or when you finally get twenty. While testing absolute or relative strength is fun stuff, we also know not to just chase weights and that we should strive for consistent and constant progress.
We want our house of strength to stand the test of time. But why not give students a motivating win while they’re working on building that foundation or strengthening that base?
I wanted to show my students how their strength would improve with focus and planning. Need a bigger press or stronger clean and jerk?
I like six weeks as a program length because it offers the best middle ground. It’s long enough to practice skill and build strength, but short enough to keep my students’ attention.
In this program, we will take the 5×5 format and combine it with the principle of spending the majority of our time in 70%-80% of 5RM. I recommend some “play” on your other sessions, but keep it to a light or medium type of legwork.
The idea of “play” is something that is out of focus and can be fun or assist in other goals. Since our focus is the kettlebellfrontsquat, any other lower-body movement would be extra credit.
Maybe you recently learned of a new pistol progression—play could be feeling out that new progression. A student could also play with any other leg work from light goblets squats to single-leg practice.
Just make sure you take a rest day before and after the kettlebellfrontsquat session. Remember, the kettlebellfront squats are the priority in the session and in the week.
A question to address: should you do single or double kettle bells? Sometimes the jumps between percentages are smaller than the differences in kettle bell sizes.
So, this student would stick to double 12kgs until the programming indicates to use 85% at which point I would recommend lifting with the 28 kg goblet. To simplify, here is an easy breakdown going by kettle bells instead of percentages, based on the typical 4 kg jump in bell size.
As you can see each student used slightly different 5×5 combinations, but stayed true to the two rules: never practice with the test weight and build up load. As with any test day, make sure sleep, stress, food, and mindset are in check.
After warm-up (use the one of your choice), we use 5 sets to build up to test weights, but in a modified descending latter, with all percentages based off the 5RM from week one: We project that we will have multiple students squatting body weight for reps after our next cycle.
You will build a solid core built on pressure and time. I encourage you to embrace (pun intended) every set and finish every rep with a smile.
By the end of six weeks, you will become more resilient and harder to kill. Please, let me know how the program goes for you and feel free to ask any questions.
I’ve been asked numerous times to formally outline my triple progression system. So you have done your kettle bell clean and press ladders and have put in your volume.
No matter what your goals are—strength, mass, conditioning, or cuts— kettle bell complexes deliver. Sean Sharon, SFG I, owns and operates Prevail Strength and Fitness.
He has attended university for kinesiology and is also an SSA CPT, Muscle Activation Jumpstart, and Titlist level 1 instructor. He has trained one-on-one clients and groups for almost ten years.
You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach him through social media. Being a “good” coach and writing effective training programs isn’t about inserting the most demanding or most obnoxious looking exercises for your athletes & clients.
Peruse social media and you’ll inevitably come across any number of fit pros vying for everyone’s attention with elaborate looking exercises ranging from Quasi-isometric dead lifts vs. chains (from a deficit on one leg) to flag-holds with band abduction (think about it). I’m lame, and could really care less about garnering “likes” by wooing people with circus acts.
When I watch some things coaches put up on their IG feed or YouTube channel I have to wonder if they think about the following: There doesn’t always have to be a reason or rationale backed up by a Mel Sight quote.
Others like Mike Robertson, Artemis Scandalizes, Molly Galbraith, and pretty much every coach in the history of ever who’s been affiliated with Strongest or ROC certification are fans. It’s one of my “go-to” squat variations that I use with athletes and general population clients alike for a variety of reasons:
The anterior placement of the load forces the core to fire like crazy and helps to promote ideal positioning of the torso: Less rib flair and more of a “canister” position where the pelvis and rib-cage are stacked on top of one another, in addition to the pelvic floor and diaphragm.
A more upright torso comes to fruition which helps to offset excessive shearing of the spine. However, for a large chunk of people, especially in the beginning stages, it’s more “joint-friendly” to adopt an upright torso, accumulate reps there, and then progress to advanced variations where more forward lean enters the picture.
Even large humans who can seemingly squat Ohio will find this variation challenging. Two, 24 kg bells will make many huddles in the corner sucking their thumb.
Below is a quick video I shot this AM which goes into slight detail on some components of the exercise, namely the set-up, how to transition the bells to the starting position, and basic cuing.