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.


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 …



Have a great weekend!

-Chris, CSCS, CTT


  • Reply March 16, 2010

    Kimberley in Hong Kong

    Thanks for all the tips Chris. I can do below parallel squats no problem but good to know that I am really flexible in the ankles and not to bad in the hips. However, pistols are always a problem. I think I may be leaning too far forward and that I am not activating my glutes enough. Anyway I cannot do a pistol without one hand on a bench. Looking forward to the next lesson!!!!

  • Reply March 16, 2010


    Thanks for the video, Chris! I’m having trouble with getting into the full pistol too but I’m doing the convict conditioning progressions. However, I’ve modified them by holding onto the wall when I move beyond parallel, which is when my balance usually gives out. But I can’t wait to watch part 2!

    • Reply March 20, 2010

      Chris Lopez, CSCS, CTT

      Hi Clement

      for balance concerns, I’d take a look at your footwear (are you using shoes or going barefoot?). usually going barefoot will clear up a lot of balance concerns because you don’t have to deal with the padding in your shoe throwing you off.

  • Reply March 16, 2010


    Thank you for showing the roller and hip stretch. I have worked with physical therapists and none mentioned this roller technique. Thanks Much!

  • Reply March 16, 2010



    Thank you for te Pistol series. I am looking forward to the next installment(s) of the series. I can squat below parallel for my Dbl Rack Squats (2x20kg) but a simple bodyweight pistol has eluded me. I have even done assisted pistols with a rope around a pole, but I do not seem to get the understanding of balance and correct tension. I did have a peak of three pistols per side with a 4kg kettlebell extended out with both hands holding on to it. From this I could never progress to a bodyweight pistol. I would like to complete a double rack pistol in my life time.

    • Reply March 20, 2010

      Chris Lopez, CSCS, CTT

      Hi James

      I’ll do the best I can to give you tips to get to that double rack pistol!


  • Reply March 16, 2010

    Bob McEnaney

    Hey Chris,

    Great info. Thanks. I look forward to seeing the next ones. Question…..I tried some 1-leg squats last week and did end up getting a sore knee (behind the kneecap). My thought was that I went too deep, as I did get below parallel (with assistance). Any thoughts as to what caused that? I’m sort of spooked to try them again.



    • Reply March 20, 2010

      Chris Lopez, CSCS, CTT

      Hi Bob

      I suggest really rolling out your IT band (with the foam roller) and your glute medius (with a tennis ball). Then, stretch your hip flexors, quads and hamstrings AND then do some glute activation exercises like Cook Hip Lifts, or band walks.

      In my experience, anterior knee pain can be cleared up after you do a lot of IT band and glute soft tissue work and glute activation exercises.


  • Reply April 1, 2010

    Alex Gordon

    Я извиняюсь, но, по-моему, Вы не правы. Я уверен. Могу это доказать. Пишите мне в PM, обсудим….

    A: Hi Craig, […….

  • Reply April 11, 2010

    Kylie Batt

    Как специалист, могу оказать помощь. Я специально зарегистрировался, чтобы поучаствовать в обсуждении….

    A: Hi Craig, […….

  • Reply April 16, 2010

    Kylie Batt

    Поздравляю, мне кажется это великолепная мысль…

    o удобное  Q: Hey Chris, I see you use a mixture of Competition K/B’s and ‘Classic’ style ones…..

  • Reply May 3, 2010


    great post as usual!

  • Reply May 4, 2010

    Kylie Batt

    жестоко!очень жестоко….

    Вам документов -Craig
    A: Hi Craig, […….

  • Reply June 11, 2010


    Will be much more effective and much more difficult if the progressions were done in bare feet of shoes without a heel as you are wearing, i.e. a pistol is much easier when wearing the type of shoes in the video. Challenge yourself and learn to perform the pistol in barefeet.

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