Double Kettlebell Workouts: For the Best of Both Worlds

An interview with Strength Coach Troy Anderson.


This is an interview with Strength Coach Troy Anderson. Enjoy.
1. How did you develop an interest in kettlebells?

Truth be known, for at least a few months there early on I was an anti-kettlebell person; buying in to the bullshit that you can just use a dumbbell. How wrong I was.

My ultimate interest in kettlebells has always been the access they give to people to perform movements that they never would have in a normal environment; whether it is an athlete or some just looking to lose a few pounds. It is all about having the accessibility to the fastest journey from point A to point B and kettlebells provide that.

2. Most programs are written specifically for strength or specifically for fat loss. How do you program for both?

I think people used to think that they could not do both; but there is a trend out there that that is starting to insert heavier loading into fat loss programs. I think most of us would agree a large degree of fat loss is changing what goes into your mouth.

Strength and fat loss actually go quite well together, although we have been conditioned to think otherwise. When you think about it with pure strength work you should use relatively low volume work and with a restricted fat loss diet you don't want to expend too much energy.

Here's a personal example : I did the better part of a train-up for a strongman contest while using something called the velocity diet (fairly restrictive fat loss protocol) and it did not effect performance at all.

3. Why use kettlebells for strength and fat loss when you can use other tools?

Ultimately it is accessibility. If you are a pretty decent coach and your client has the physical ability with kettlebells the door is wide open.

It's really as simple as this - the vast majority of people can't squat or deadlift worth a damn, and we can get proficient at that stuff quickly with a kettlebell. There is no psychological 'hang-up' of having to 'address a big weight' and that is beyond value. Not only in long term movement quality but in regard to fat loss too they use more of the 600 principle as my friend Dax Moy likes to call it; in short they are using more of their 600 muscles and that is a good thing when it comes to fat loss.

Not to mention we can progress them to things like swings, snatches, get-ups and flowing complexes.

For athletes it is sad to say but most of them are pretty strong but move like shit, it allows the access again to refine some movement and coordination and then put the foot on the pedal and go into advanced movements again while having a very short learning curve, it's very powerful.

When were are honest about things we need athletes in & out fast with high impact results, not spending a ton of time teaching minutiae or refining technique.

Kettlebells are the perfect blend of a tool that provides diversity, and accessibility to many different populations; whether it is performance strength work, metabolic work, or even mobility work with just a couple kettlebells. As someone who needs their 'tools' to make money, that is invaluable.

4. Why double kettlebells?

Well as you may have figured I am not much of a 'load nazi', that is the apparent thing that the double kettlebell provides and for most people and athletes that is enough.

With the kettlebells we are allowed the opportunity to move relatively heavy weight fast, and this very good for developing athleticism and even better for fat loss.

There is another component and this something I call integrity; basically when someone is forced to hold the kettlebell(s) in the rack position regardless of the movement it just brutalizes the core in a good way, in other words it keeps people from being lazy and at the same time slips in a sneaky little bit of core work.

5. Can you describe a sample workout?

We have a variety of signature workouts from Big Iron Burn (BIB), Chaos Method (CM), and Smoke Session (SS). Things that make our program a bit different from purely the exercise standpoint.

We have a 'pick your own ending' style with the chaos method that switches things up everyday or Big Iron Burn which is a primary movement plus a burn circuit that supports the movement developed in the big iron portion.

Then we have the metabolic Smoke Session. Ultimately the programming is set up to sustain progress whether you are a kettlebell newbie or a fitness enthusiast so you will be able to step in and get kickass results.

Since most people want to feel like they worked out here's an example of a workout that I shot this fall with a football theme.

If you would like to check out all our other free workouts and videos go to: www.kettlebellworkoutvideos.com


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6. Do you think people need coaching for kettlebells, or is it something you can pick up on your own?

If I said yes it would be a little hypocritical, as that is how l learned plus a little help from my good buddy Josh Henkin.

That said, any time we can get direct coaching it will expedite the learning curve and for some reason kettlebells seem to be a little unnerving for a lot of people; even athletes.

As a matter of fact just today I had a highland games athlete in and she was horribly nervous about kettlebells but we had her doing snatches with very good proficiency in about 10-15 minutes; although they need some polish she was doing a very good job with them.

I guess the point I am trying to make is it is dependent on your base of movement ability, if you are straight off the street with jacked up hips and shoulders, overweight, and have never worked out sure a coach would be a very wise decision; however if you are healthy athlete with pretty good movement ability you can probably pull it off on your own.

If you fall somewhere in between then your application of coaching should be relative to your movement ability; or another way to put it - if you pick up a kettlebell uninstructed and do nothing but lever your back and whack the shit out of your wrist and forearm, a coach might be a good idea.

7. There are several types of kettlebells out there. Which would you recommend?

Good question, my little herd of kettlebells is pretty diverse so I believe I can give you an objective opinion, and I am not tied to anyone company per se.

Probably the 2 most important things to look for in a kettlebell are:

  1. How the kettlebell sits on your wrist/forearm in the rack and overhead position
  2. The handle mold - there is nothing worse than a jacked up handle that is rough and/or misshapen.

After we have that out of the way it is pretty much up to personal preference.

Personally the brand that I like right now is Christian Fitness Factory - their kettlebell has a slightly longer handle and fits most people's body in just the right place.

8. How would you modify your workouts for different sports?

I think it might be best to look at this from an athlete's stand point; as in what is important to work on with them and what do they need to develop/improve.

Do I have a football player with a jacked up shoulder, what is his/her movement ability and can use something like a get-up to help this athlete get better? Maybe/maybe not.

Do I have a highland games competitor that needs get used to moving a relatively heavy weight with pretty much one side of their body and do it with speed, is the snatch a good tool for the job? Maybe/maybe not.

Do I have an ironman tri-athlete that is 8 weeks from the event they have trained 12 months for and they have a 'bad back' flare-up? Are heavy kettlebell front squats the right tool? Maybe/ but probably not.

I guess what I am saying is that the kettlebell provides the access to very effectively put the power in the programming.

If you need optimal strength developed - no trouble; need some rehab/movement integrity work - no trouble; need endurance work or conditioning - no trouble. The kettlebell give us the access to do this.

To make a very general point most sports start from a pretty similar position - the classic staggered athletic stance. Which basically means we usually need to develop force from the ground, accelerate through the hips, and then likely distribute that force in some way out through the upper body.

So the #1 priority is developing 'good hips' - the kettlebell gives us access to do this whether it is swings or get-ups or something else.

9. What does your current training regimen look like?

One of my current physical goals is to take my body to a level of leanness I haven't ever achieved before so for that - from a programming standpoint - I am using two different programs that will fit my goal lifestyle well.

The is first is called Horsepower which is a cool program because of the simplicity, you do 3 sets of 3, 6,9,12 reps for 4 different movement completing an entire set of all movements and repeating. In my case this provides a strength stimulus in several areas and this program is done with double kettlebells.

The second program that I am using is called Microburst and it is done with kettlebells and/or sandbags this is 4 movements (I generally keep the movements pretty simple) done for 8-12 reps per movement with 4 minutes to complete all the reps for each movement, whatever is left is rest and this is repeated for a total of 4 circuits. The really cool thing about both these work sequences is that they can be completed in 30 minutes or less.

10. What kettlebell moves do you see people doing wrong, and how might they correct them?

Probably the top ones in no particular order are cleans, presses, swings, and get-ups. The reason for faulty technique in most of these instances is either that the speed and/or complexity of the movement is just too much for the individual to handle at that point, or some kind of orthopedic or neural issue, which may or may not be fixable.

The best correction tips I have are:


Yael Grauer

Yael Grauer is a freelance writer and BJJ practitioner living in the Midwest. She writes regularly for the Performance Menu and MMA HQ.

You'll also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google+.



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