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Do you even Kettlebell squat bro!?
Why squat with a kettlebell when you can squat with a barbell, right? A barbell you can load with 100’s of kilo’s, and with a kettlebell you’re lucky if you can get to 96kg in total with two kettlebells. So why squat with a kettlebell?
Let’s get this out of the way first… of course I’m biased, I’m a kettlebell trainer first, crossfit trainer second. So yeah, do your own research and make your own informed decisions. In the end, even if you agree that what I say makes sense, but still choose the barbell, I understand. The barbell can be lots of fun and has a lower learning curve. I’m not going to fault you for it. Hell, I even like the barbell.
But… if we’re going to look at what tool can do more for you, what tool provides more bang for your buck, then it’s the kettlebell without a doubt. With the barbell you do overhead squats, front-squats, back-squats and deadlifts squat style, that’s about the extend of it when it comes to squatting. No variation on how you grip the barbell, whether you grab one or two barbells, you’re pretty much stuck with 4 squat variations. But you can whack a whole lot of weight on it. Which brings me to my next personal opinion, I call it a personal opinion, because if I said it was a fact, you might never come back to read any of my mumbling again. My personal opinion is that there is no need to lift extremely heavy, that it becomes very dangerous for the spine, and that I’ve seen many serious spinal/disc injuries, all from lifting extremely heavy. Some of you might think “you just can’t lift heavy that’s why you tell us it’s bad”, indeed, I can’t lift extremely heavy, double my bodyweight in the deadlift is about my max, and that’s exactly where I tend to keep it. Front and back-squat maybe 1.5 my bodyweight, and again, I’m ok with that, I simply have no need to go heavier, and nor do I want to, as I want to keep using my back for basic things like standing, walking and be able to do that up till the day I kick the bucket.
What was my point? My point was, don’t mess up your back just to be the man, and I know how tempting it is. My second point, kettlebells are heavy enough for most people to achieve with what they need to achieve.
Here are some of the things you can vary with kettlebells and squatting:
- use one kettlebell
- use two kettlebells
- squat with:
- one kettlebell overhead and one hanging
- one kettlebell overhead and one racked
- both kettlebells overhead
- both kettlebells hanging
- open palm grip (mimic barbell front-squat)
- goblet grip
- waiters grip
- crush grip (involve your shoulders while squatting)
- fireman’s grip (mimic back-squat)
- open hand horn squat
- bottoms-up squat (work on your grip and wrists while squatting)
- noob grip (challenge yourself from a completely new angle)
There is more than this, this just scratches the surface, you can download our free ebook with more than 25 kettlebell grips in it to get the low down.
The kettlebell comes with a steeper learning curve, if you train without a qualified and knowledgable kettlebell coach, you will more than likely give up on kettlebells, because they’re a nuisance, they hurt your wrists and forearms. But if you can find a good kettlebell trainer, someone that can teach you the finer details on how to rack, how to grip and how to avoid kettlebell annoyances, well, then you’ve entered the kettlebell, welcome to my world. Don’t accept kettlebell pain, if your trainer can’t help you, find yourself another trainer, or look at yourself and ask yourself “am I actually doing what I’m being told to do, or do I just nod and do whatever the hell I want”?!? Face one fact: you just don’t pick up a kettlebell and train with it, there is a period of learning the basics, if you can’t find time to do that, then kettlebells might not be for you. But trust me, if you do invest the time in it, you will love it, and a whole new exciting world of training opens up to you.
My final point on the benefits of squatting with kettlebells is that you can train unilateral, with the barbell—unless you’re extremely gifted—you’ll always be training bilateral, and we already have enough muscle inconsistencies.
I leave you with this quick video in which I demonstrate 14 quick kettlebell squat variations, you can read more about those in the article 14 kettlebell squat variations, and see the details of each variation in a video on it’s own.
Since I got your attention, well, at least I hope I got your attention. Check out these 24 unconventional kettlebell exercises which I know you’ll love.
As always, your opinion is valued, whether negative or positive, post it below or on this Facebook post here.