Once you have become comfortable with basic kettlebell moves like swings, cleans and snatches using a single weight, you can start to do versions of those exercises with two kettlebells. “Using two kettlebells is more of a skill challenge because it increases the level of difficulty so it requires more stability, balance and control,” says Ashton Turner from London’s Evolve 353 gym. “The best thing is it’s a simple way of increasing the load because it’s easier to use two 16kg kettlebells than it is to use a single 32kg one.”
How to do it
Do three sets of ten reps for each exercise, resting for 45 seconds between sets and 90 seconds between exercises. For the second move, each rep involves pressing each kettlebell overhead once. To keep progressing, add a rep to every set each time you train, until you’re doing 15 reps in each set. After that, use heavier kettlebells and go back to doing ten reps.
Why it works
There’s no cheating when using two kettlebells. The increase in weight from one to two bells is significant, so your muscles have a much bigger demand placed on them. You also need to make sure that you move the weights in the same way: you can’t perform a double kettlebell snatch with the weights ending up in different places because you’ll injure your shoulders. In this workout, precision is key.
1 Double swing
Drive your hips through until you’re upright in a neutral position (this activates your glutes). Aim to keep your forearms tight to your hips until you reach neutral. As your arms come up, squeeze your glutes to prevent overextending your lower back.
Expert tip “Make sure your feet are a bit wider than they would be for a single-arm swing,” says Turner. “That will ensure that you have enough room for both weights and are able to effectively load your hips to work your glutes and hamstrings.”
2 Sots press
Stand upright with the kettlebells in a racked position (by your shoulders, elbows tucked in), then sink into a deep squat. Press the kettlebells overhead alternately, looking at the moving weight throughout the exercise.
Expert tip “This is a great test of hip, thoracic spine and shoulder mobility and stability,” says Turner. “Start light and try to sit deep into the squat. Emphasise the twist in your spine as you press the weight overhead to open up your shoulders.”
3 Double snatch
Swing the bells between your legs, then drive forwards with your hips to swing them up in an arc. When the bells gets to just below chest height, bring your elbows back and slide your hand under and around the kettlebells while using their momentum to finish with them overhead.
Expert tip “Try to avoid moving your hands under the bell and then pressing up in a separate movement,” says Turner. “This should be one movement and as smooth as possible, using the momentum of the kettlebell. Using two kettlebells really increases the skill level because you need to make sure your shoulders are moving in the same direction to avoid putting too much stress on the joint.”
4 Double clean
Swing the kettlebell between your legs and drive your hips forwards. Once the bell passes stomach height, draw your elbow back and slide your hand under and around the bell to catch it in the “rack” position, then lower the bell in an arc.
Expert tip “Make sure the kettlebells don’t travel too far away from your body,” says Turner. “It’s really important that you drive with your hips to get the kettlebells moving, but don’t push your hips past neutral – that will stress your back.”
5 Double overhead press
Start in the rack position with the kettlebells at shoulder height and your elbows tucked in to your sides for support. Press the weights directly overhead, using the most efficient path possible to minimise the stress on your shoulder joints.
Expert tip “This will challenge your shoulder stability,” says Turner. “Make sure you press both kettlebells overhead with your elbows directly below the weights, and ensure that you finish with both weights directly above your shoulders.”
Ashton Turner is the co-founder of Evolve 353 gym in London. He has worked with clients across multiple training disciplines including kettlebells, Olympic lifting, strength and conditioning, and Pilates.