Kettlebell Squats – Variations and Efficiency

Kettlebell squats were one of the six or so exercises I learned while at the RKC (Russian Kettlebell Challenge) certification. It’s exactly what it sounds like, you pick up a kettlebell or two and then squat with them. It was nowhere near as complicated as I had let myself believe, but there are variations that can be explored for each lifter to determine where they’re must comfortable.

I’m not really into the “no pain no gain” thing. I choose movements and variations of the movements that keep me feeling good and make me instantly more mobile.

With kettlebell front squats, here are the two major variations I play around with.

Squat while holding the bell at chest level

kettlebell squatThe kb can be held like the gent in the photo here, or flipped upside down with the handle facing the chin. I don’t have a preference.

note: It looks like he’s getting ready to do a pistol, or single leg squat. I don’t do very many pistols so I won’t talk about it much here. If you’d like a book that discusses them more in depth, I would check out this review of Pavel Tsatsouline’s The Naked Warrior.

One (or two) kettlebell(s) in the rack

valery fedorenkoThis picture is of Valery Fedorenko, President of the AKC (American Kettlebell club). Valery practices the sport of kb lifting, called Girevoy Sport. Here he is holding two bells in the rack. From there, if you were doing a squat you would…squat.

It’s really not that complicated. Start standing up. then squat down however low you are able to without pain. then stand back up, trying to make the movement as efficient as possible (moving in a straight line if your body can handle it). When many people squat, especially beginners, there are way too many moving parts to be maximally efficient. This isnt’ wrong, it just means their bodies aren’t ready to move in a straight line yet with this movement pattern.

The only other things I might test out are a very narrow stance versus a wide one, heels together, squatting in the lunge position, or experimenting with my hand position.

Have fun, be safe, and if you’re getting results that make you happy, you’re not doing it wrong.

Josh