I recently bought a new adjustable kettlebell. I got it specifically because the adjustable kettlebell I already had has a rather large gap in weights: It goes from 25 lbs to 35 lbs (11 kg to 16 kg).

I’d been doing clean and press at 25 lbs. (I do a reverse ladder, where I do 5 left and 5 right, then 4, 3, 2, and 1, then put the weight down. That’s one set.) I started at 4 sets, and over a few weeks worked up to doing 10 sets, at which point I figured it was time go up in weight.

Sadly, it turned out that I couldn’t make the jump. After a failed attempt, I cut the reverse ladder down to start at 3 (rather than 5), and started at just 3 sets. I managed one workout like that, but when I tried to do another workout, I didn’t even make it as far as I had the first time.

So, I bought a new, more adjustable kettlebell: the Wildman Athletica competition adjustable kettlebell. It will allow me to make ½ kg jumps, if that what it takes to be able to go up in weight successfully.

A Wildman Athletica adjust-able weight kettlebell

It starts at 12 kg, which by happy coincidence is right where I need to be for my clean & press workouts.

The downside of the Wildman kettlebell is that it isn’t so easy to adjust the weight. Whereas my other adjustable weight kettlebell can be adjusted with a quick click of a dial, the Wildman adjustable kettlebell has to be opened up with a hex wrench, and then have weight plates added (or removed), and then tightened back up again. This is no big deal if you have to do it once or twice a month as you finish one cycle in an exercise program, but is pretty tedious if you have to do it every day or two as you switch between exercises—and 12 kg is rather low for lower-body exercises (for me). My other adjustable bell goes to 40 lb (18 kg) and my fixed-weight bell is 53 lb (24 kg)), and either of those is a much for appropriate weight for, let’s say, kettlebell swings.

So, I was trying to think of a lower-body exercise I could do with just 12 kg, and still get a reasonable muscle-building stimulus. I thought about hand-to-hand swings, which would work okay for the upper body, but wouldn’t make much difference as far as the lower body goes. Then I thought of single-leg Romanian dead lifts.

If I were doing regular (2-legged) Romanian dead lifts (RDL) with a barbell, I’d be able to use close to 135 lbs. You might assume half of that would be about right for a single-leg RDL, but the SLRDL turns out to require a much higher level of skill, because it’s a tricky balance exercise, as well as a strength exercise. In particular, it really works the smaller muscles of the feet and ankles—needed to keep from falling over.

All of which is to say that I think SLRDLs will turn out to be a very fine exercise for my purposes, at least for a while. I started at 5 sets of 5 left / 5 right, and just like with the clean & press expect to be able to run it up to 10 sets. Then, just like with the clean & press, I should be able to go up in weight. At some point—when I get the skill component nailed—I’ll probably see the weight I want for the lower-body exercise go up faster than the the weight for the upper-body exercise. But at least for a little while, I think I’m all set.

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