Single or Double Bells?

There is an interesting difference between women and men in kettlebell sport (snatch aside); whether or single or double bells are used when competing.

I personally prefer working with a single bell. I find it very hard to rack two bells and be able to breathe adequately for long sets. As an asthmatic with a slight barrel chest, this is clearly a major issue! Whilst you may, quite rightly, say I am, therefore, not suited to the sport I also believe that physiology of the sexes plays a part. I’m not particularly well endowed in a certain department, but if I was it would be even harder. Sizes of torso, width of shoulders, and other anatomical differences also play a part.

Aside from my personal preference, the fact that all the worldwide rankings tables for women focus on single bells mean that to progress against a benchmark (competitions aside) one needs to focus on single bell work. There are some women I know (of) who are excellent with two bells and fair play to them. But I want to measure my progress at this point in my kettlebell sport career. To do that, I need to focus on a single arm lift. It’s hard enough getting recognition on a wider scale for long cycle rather than snatch. I’m not about to double (ha!) my issues with looking to do double bells.

It is not just the weight of the bells, but the size of them that is an issue. Having consistent sized bells through the sizes in competition kettlebells is great, and I’m not suggesting I want those changed. But both men and women can struggle with them. I remember (at some point in 2014) reading a post by Valery Fedorenko where he suggested that given the flexibility and strength of both men and women these days it may be better to focus on single bells for both sexes. At the time I first read it I wasn’t sure, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.

What I would like to see is actually single and double bells for both sexes! I think it would widen kettlebell sport to different people who struggle with the current status quo; both men and women. It would also allow a better crossover for men from pentathlon to biathlon for example. (All pentathlon lifts are single arm for both sexes.)

I know this is entirely a personal viewpoint but hey it’s my site 😉 Nothing like starting the year off by being controversial! But healthy debate is good. Feel free to contribute…

I am so far from being a feminist or into women’s rights, especially working in IT where many initiatives around such things exist (which I hate) but I do think some practicality needs to be applied here. Genetic differences do need to be considered as well. Competing weights are lower for women so there is already a difference for those who want to shout “no fair”. If the sport is double bells for all (or single) then fine. But make sure the competitions and ranking tables are updated to reflect that. Until that happens women use a single bell, men use two apart from in snatch or pentathlon.

IUKL needs to recognise that women can long cycle (and jerk) with single bells before worrying about single bells for men and double for women. Once that has happened, then by all means expand both those options.

Leave a comment. Go on. You know you want to!