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.
A smooth set of 5-10 single arm presses A set of 3 bottoms- up presses Multiple consecutive windmills and Turkish get ups with ease and poise These guidelines seek to determine the level of proficiency with which you can both move and stabilize the weight overhead.
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.
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. By now you’ve discovered the benefits of working out with kettle bells!
You’ve also probably discovered that kettle bell training is hard! It’s a dynamic exercise that works your heart, your lungs, your core, and everything else!
When you’re done with a kettle bell workout you feel like you just hiked to the top of a beautiful vista! You have endorphins running through your veins and you feel fantastically strong, yet well aware of the likelihood you’re going to sleep like a baby at night after that workout!
Poor Form! Chances are, if this question enters your mind, then you’re probably ready! Of course, depending on the move or sequence, you’re going to be able to lift, press, or swing different weights.
If you’re just now shopping for your first kettle bell and have found this article while trying to figure out the proper weight, then my suggestion is to grab whatever weight you have access to, whether dumbbell or kettle bell, and press it over your head. Now if you’re just starting out and feeling a little timid about choosing a heavier weight, then know this: after a couple of weeks of consistent training, you’re going to definitely need a heavier weight to feel the same result.
Kettle bells are an intense exercise and form should NEVER be compromised for speed or weight gain. Trying to do a move for 1-2 minutes as opposed to 10-20 reps can feel like you’re doing a whole new workout, despite doing the same movement!
Those 3 things can get a substantial amount of additional life out of a kettle bell before moving up to a heavier weight. This is a question I often hear from women when they are considering a weight -lifting exercise or program.
You can build both size and strength from kettle bells, but you’re going to have to use some heavy weight to get there! Trust me, if you’re in the 10-53 lb kettle bell range like most people, then you’re never going to be the next Arnold!
Oh, and one more thing: don’t get rid of the kettle bells that you’ve outgrown. 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.
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 in weight 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 in weight 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.
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. Then as we Westernized kettle bells, we added different sizes like the 12 kg and 8 kg so that women would be able to use them.
Slowly, we’ve added more and more sizes to bridge the gaps in between bells. And that’s exactly why companies have worked to create in-between bells to fill those gaps.
Because I started using them to rehabilitate my shoulder, I spent a lot of time with a 16 kg at the beginning. The shoulder problem was too bad to rehab and I ultimately ended up needing surgery, but returned again to my 16 kg once I was cleared to lift weights.
To be honest, once my shoulder was healthy I made the jump to the 24 kg pretty quickly. And from there I handled most training with it pretty easily until I felt ready for the 32 kg.
As anyone who has done it before will tell you, everything is actually pretty smooth sailing and you can progress quickly until you hit 32 kg, and then it gets tough. In most kettle bell programs for pressing, the advice is that you’d do a series of ladders split over three days to get stronger.
Because kettle bells have these big jumps in load you’re actually better off manipulating volume or density than you are intensity. The following plan is by my friend and former Master ROC and brainier Kenneth Jay.
I’m a big believer that you will still need to use the bell you’re struggling with on one day per week, so that you get used to the weight. If you’ve got the time and patience, adding training volume will always work.
For people who have never heard of Escalating Density Training (EDT), I suggest getting out from under your rock and reading Charles Stanley ’s work. The basic principle is that you perform as much reps as you can in a given time frame.
Typically, you’d look to reduce the target time by 10% before adding weight and beginning the process again. But the pesky weight jumps with kettle bells make this an unwieldy strategy.
At this point you’ve already improved performance by 20%, and the best bet now is to add volume. You may be able to bring that time down further, but the goal is increasing strength, not turning this into a conditioning bout.
You’ll find you can follow this program for an almost indefinite period of time, and it naturally allows for easy and hard weeks in order to prevent burn out. Be patient with the jumps and think of each bell as a new belt in a martial art that needs to be learned about and grown into, rather than as a step to get past as quickly as possible.