Do you need 1 or 2 kettlebells?

Kettlebells are an extremely effective strength training tool that can help build muscle, improve cardiovascular fitness, and burn fat. But when starting out with kettlebells, many people wonder if they should buy one kettlebell or two. The answer depends on your goals and current fitness level.

Benefits of training with 1 kettlebell

Here are some of the benefits of training with just one kettlebell:

  • Allows you to master proper form and technique – Focusing on just one kettlebell enables you to really dial in your form on foundational kettlebell exercises like swings, cleans, presses, and snatches.
  • Lets you work within a limited space – You can perform a variety of effective kettlebell moves without needing a lot of room.
  • Challenges core stability and balance – Controlling a single kettlebell during unilateral (single-arm/leg) exercises is more demanding on your core and stabilizer muscles.
  • Easier to transport and store – Traveling or storing a single kettlebell takes up less space.
  • More affordable option – Buying one high-quality kettlebell costs less than buying two.

Training with a single kettlebell is ideal for beginners who are just learning proper form. It also allows for a wide variety of full-body exercises that will build functional strength and cardiovascular fitness. Many experienced kettlebell athletes continue to use single kettlebell training as part of their program.

Benefits of training with 2 kettlebells

Here are some benefits you get when training with a pair of kettlebells:

  • Allows for more load variation – With two kettlebells you can use heavier and lighter loads for different exercises or sets.
  • Enables more bilateral (two-arm/leg) exercises – You can perform exercises likekettlebell swings, cleans, presses, and lunges with two kettlebells.
  • Provides loading for more complex moves – Things like the kettlebell snatch require a lighter counterbalance in the other hand.
  • Creates opportunities for more combinations – You can combine exercises by alternating hands with the kettlebells.
  • Elevates heart rate – Exercises with two kettlebells involve more total muscle mass and cardio demand.

Utilizing a pair of kettlebells expands exercise options and allows you to safely use heavier loads. This leads to building greater overall strength and cardiovascular endurance. The ability to readily vary loads is also beneficial for effectively periodizing your training.

How many kettlebells for beginners?

For kettlebell beginners, starting with one kettlebell is recommended in most cases. Focusing on proper form and technique early on will pay bigger dividends down the road. A few factors to consider when deciding on one vs two kettlebells as a beginner:

  • Gender – Women are often better off starting with a single 15-25lb kettlebell. Men may want to begin with a 25-35lb kettlebell.
  • Fitness level – If you’re in good athletic shape already, you could start with two lighter kettlebells in the 15-25lb range.
  • Goals – If your main goal is muscle building, get one heavy enough kettlebell for strength work. For fat loss goals, start lighter.
  • Budget – Buying one quality kettlebell to start allows you to focus your budget on an optimal starter weight.

While one kettlebell will provide an excellent training stimulus for beginners, there are a few cases where two lighter kettlebells may be preferable right away:

  • If you want to do kettlebell complexes where you alternate hands.
  • If you have past experience with barbells and already have good technique.
  • If you plan to train with a partner and want to match weights.

When to move up to 2 kettlebells

Here are some signs that indicate you’re ready to incorporate some two kettlebell training:

  • Proficiency with single kettlebell exercises – You have one-arm swings, cleans, presses, etc down with proper form.
  • Ample strength base – You can comfortably perform a few sets of five repetitions of single-arm presses and Turkish get-ups.
  • Not enough challenge – You feel capable of handling more total load. Single kettlebell work has gotten easy.
  • Plateaus – You’ve stopped making progress in strength, muscle, or fat loss with single kettlebell training.
  • Need more combinations – You want more exercise options by combining two-kettlebell moves with single-kettlebell moves.

Adding in some two kettlebell training once you have a solid foundation will increase your strength, power, and endurance. It will also open up more exercise selection to keep your training varied and progressing.

How to choose your kettlebell weights

If you’ve decided to add a second kettlebell, choosing the right weights comes down to your current strength and goals:

  • Match weights – You can start with two kettlebells of equal weight that align with your proficiency. This allows for easier bilateral training.
  • Heavier + lighter – A common pairing is a heavier kettlebell for one-arm work paired with a lighter bell for two-arm work and complexes.
  • Double progression – Select two incrementally heavier kettlebells that allow you to progress from lighter to heavier in the same workout.

Some factors to consider when selecting your kettlebell weights:

  • Gender – Women generally use lighter kettlebells in the 15-25lb range. Men often start with 25-45lb kettlebells.
  • Experience level – If new to kettlebells, err on the lighter side to allow skill development.
  • Strength abilities – Base kettlebell weight off a percentage of your top strength lifts like deadlift.
  • Arm size – Choose a kettlebell handle circumference that fits your hand and wrist size.
  • Weight increments – Kettlebells commonly increase in 4-8lb increments. Pick accordingly.

It’s smart to purchase good quality kettlebells, as they will last for years. Investing in a few sets at different weights is beneficial over the long run.

Best single kettlebell exercises

Here are some of the most effective exercises that can be performed with just one kettlebell:

Kettlebell swing

This foundational move trains explosive hip power while challenging your grip and core. It builds full-body strength and cardiovascular fitness. Aim for 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps.

Kettlebell clean

The clean teaches you to smoothly transition the kettlebell from the floor to the rack position. It develops strength, power, and coordination. Do 3-5 sets of 5-8 reps on each side.

Kettlebell press

Pressing one kettlebell overhead will hit your shoulders while challenging your core stability and alignment. Work up to 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps.

Kettlebell snatch

This advanced move develops explosive power, grip strength, and shoulder stability all in one exercise. Build up to 3-5 sets of 5 reps each arm.

Kettlebell row

The single-arm row provides a great lat and upper back workout. Focus on squeezing your shoulder blade back on each rep. Do 3 sets of 8-12 reps per side.

These foundational movements can be sequenced together into smooth kettlebell complexes for conditioning, strength, and muscle building.

Best double kettlebell exercises

Here are some great examples of using two kettlebells together:

Kettlebell squat

Holding two kettlebells in the rack position will elevate your heart rate while increasing the lower body challenge. Aim for 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps.

Kettlebell swing

You can perform two-handed swings by holding a kettlebell in each hand. This allows you to use heavier loads with greater power output. Do 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps.

Kettlebell clean

Cleaning two kettlebells up into the rack position demands focus and coordination. Perform 3-5 sets of 5-8 reps.

Kettlebell press

Pressing two kettlebells overhead develops serious shoulder and core strength. Work up to 3-5 sets of 6-10 reps.

Kettlebell lunge

Lunging with a kettlebell in each hand provides a balance, strength, and cardio challenge. Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps per leg.

Two-kettlebell training opens up more bilateral exercises and combinations. This leads to greater strength gains and muscular development.

Sample single kettlebell workout

Here is a sample single kettlebell workout:

Warm up

  • 5 minutes light cardio
  • Joint mobility drills
  • Kettlebell halos – 5 reps each direction


Exercise Sets Reps
Kettlebell swing 5 10
Kettlebell row (each side) 3 8
Kettlebell clean 5 5 each side
Kettlebell press 3 8 each side


  • Light cardio for 5 minutes
  • Static stretching for hips, shoulders, back, and arms – 30 seconds each

This provides a balanced routine hitting the lower body, back, shoulders, and core using only one kettlebell.

Sample double kettlebell workout

Here’s a sample double kettlebell workout:

Warm up:

  • Rowing machine – 5 minutes
  • Kettlebell halos – 5 reps each direction
  • Kettlebell sumo deadlift – 8 reps


Exercise Sets Reps
Kettlebell swing 5 15
Kettlebell squat 4 12
Kettlebell lunge 3 10 each side
Kettlebell clean and press 5 5 each side


  • Light cardio for 5 minutes
  • Static full body stretches

This two-kettlebell routine provides heavy loading on foundational movements to build full body strength and power.


In summary, one kettlebell allows you to develop proper form and provides an excellent training stimulus, especially for beginners. Two kettlebells enable more advanced exercises and heavier loads to build additional strength and power.

While a single kettlebell is a great place to start, incorporating double kettlebell training can provide more variation and progressive overload once you’ve built a solid foundation of technique and strength.

The best approach is often to begin with one kettlebell, master key skills and movements, then add a second kettlebell as needed to increase intensity and continue making progress.

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