Kettlebell Q’n’A – Competition vs Classic KBs & 1-Leg Squats
Here are a few questions that I pulled out of the mailbag this week…
Q: Hey Chris, I see you use a mixture of Competition K/B’s and ‘Classic’ style ones. Can you comment on which you consider the best for training? I am reading contradictory info on the net and getting confused about what I should buy. -Craig
A: Hi Craig, I’ve been messing around with both Classic KBs and Competition KBs a lot over the past year to see which ones I like better. The main difference between the 2 is that Classic KBs will increase in size as the weight of them increases (a 4kg KB is tiny, a 48kg is HUGE), whereas Competition KBs stay consistent in sizing.
I’ve noticed that the handles on the competition bells are relatively thinner than the ones on the classic bells – which is something to consider if you have small hands. Although I prefer the larger handle because I like the grip strength element that they provide.
The main advantage to the competition bells is that you don’t have to adjust your technique to accomodate for a different sized/weighted bell.
As far as what I prefer for myself… I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to training (and life) – I enjoy old school music, living minimally and old school training. The classic bells are all I need and get a real weathered look to them after a lot of use. So I’m a Classic KB guy 100% (I gave those comp bells back to the friend that I borrowed them from).
Bottom line – if you’re a beginner/intermediate KB lifter, I’d go with the classic style KBs. If you think KB lifting is something that you may want to continue and start competing in (yes, they have competitions for that), then get the Competition style KBs.
I hope that helps.
Q: Chris, I can’t do a pistol squat. I can only get down to a certain point even when I squat with 2 feet on the ground (I feel like my body can’t get any lower). Does that mean that all is lost for me? I don’t have a history of knee issues, but I’ve just been told that squatting below parallel is bad for your knees. Any advice?
-Jason, United Kingdom
A: Hi Jason, thanks for the question. I think the first step is getting you to squat below parallel with 2 feet on the ground. In my experience, that can usually be accomplished by doing some soft tissue & mobility work for your upper back, hips and ankles followed by some flexibility for hamstrings.
As far as squatting below parallel being bad for your knees is concerned … I think it’s a load of crap.
Humans were physiologically constructed to squat below parallel (how do you think people went to the bathroom before toilets were invented?).
I’m not an orthopaedic surgeon or a doctor, and I think those are the people you see AFTER you’ve tried everything. As an advocate for preventative measures, I’ve been able to get a lot of people with "knee issues" squatting below parallel by just using a tennis ball, a foam roller and a giant elastic band with absolutely no knee pain whatsoever.
Check out Episode 1 of my "How to Do A Pistol" video series below to see some of the tricks that I have used with my clients to get them to 1) start squatting below parallel and 2) get them to do their first Pistol …
With April just around the corner, I’m going to start doing a bit more travelling. One of the trips that I’m excited about is assisting at the Boston StrongFirst Level 1 Certification. In Boston, I’ll get to work with Pavel & Geoff Neupert again – the guys who certified me…