This question was posed just the other day – asked without realising that it’s a catch all question with not a straight forward answer and depends on a few things! Such as the goals you might be looking to achieve with your training. Whether you are training in a 1-1 environment when your goals and your goals alone will be focussed on, or a group or class environment when the class will be aimed at giving a full body workout covering all bases as much as possible.
When you start off training with Kettlebells I would always suggest that you start with just one kettlebell. Master the techniques with this one bell, understand how it feels to perform the exercises, concentrate on technique. Typically I’d suggest once you have mastered the exercises with one bell, moving to 2 bells becomes more of an option; in an ideal world!
Using two kettlebells obviously doubles the weight so you need to be aware of this. This is why, in a class environment the suggestion is to pick up 2 bells of a lower weight than you would normally use. Most people take to 2 kettlebells well because it offers an even distribution of weight and better balance that single kettlebell training doesn’t offer. As well as adding extra weight double kettlebells also enables you to train both sides at the same time, this can seriously cut down on time but conversely is very demanding.
Here are a few things to bear in mind when making your choice, if you have a choice!
- More rotational pull through the core
- Strong emphasis on spine stabilisation
- Requirement to do both sides
- Longer Workouts, so more endurance based; lower intensity
- Require Less Neurological Control
- More Balanced technique (unless one heavier than the other)
- More Weight so Strength Based
- More Demanding both Physically and Mentally
- More Expensive; if you’re buying you own
- Quicker Workouts; but higher intensity
Typically goals can be to improve strength, lose weight, to tone muscles, to improve cardio fitness.
If your goal is strength this is relative and if you can swing a 10kg kettlebell 10 times and can then do it 20 times a month later you’ve got stronger but it’s more a strength endurance. To get strong you would generally lift heavier with lower reps, so double bell drills would probably be more appropriate.
Cardio fitness is a broad term and you really need to ask the question fit for what? So here single bell drills may work and double bell drills may also work.
Fat loss; if this is your goal, both are great for that and using single and double kettlebells in ‘complex’s’, which we do; when we add one exercise to another, thereby working multiple muscle groups and energy systems at the same time is the most efficient way of achieving fat loss. I’ll add a caveat to that too, as long as your nutrition is conducive to reducing fat! It is not possible to exercise out poor nutrition.
The short answer is that they are both good for you! Does that help?