Double Kettlebell Rack/Front Squat

How To Do A Double Kettlebell Rack/Front Squat
By Alli McKeeFebruary 16, 2016

Double Kettlebell Rack Squat

The double kettlebell front squat is a great exercise for strengthening the lower body, particularly the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. The double kettlebell rack squat is a fantastic squat variation to use when you find that your upper body can no longer hold the weight for a goblet squat that your lower body can handle.  It’s significantly easier to hold two moderately size kettlebells than it is to hold one kettlebell.

Equipment needed:

You need two kettlebells to perform this exercise.

Ability level:

Beginner

The double kettlebell front squat is a great option for women who are looking to master the basic squatting movement pattern, and are looking to develop the strength, mobility, and technical proficiency to be able to perform more advanced squatting variations with the barbell. In some instances, the double kettlebell rack squat might be too advanced for women who are just beginning to strength train. If this is the case, you might prefer to start with the double kettlebell box squat variation (squat/sit down on a bench/box, and stand back up) as it is slightly less technical. Beginners might perform 2-4 sets of 6-12 reps of the double kettlebell rack squat. Once beginners can perform 12+ reps with good form, they can move on to more advanced progressions of the double kettlebell rack squat.

Beginners who are comfortable with the double kettlebell rack squat exercise can choose to perform negative double kettlebell rack squats where the lowering phase to each position is increased to 3-5 seconds. This trains the muscles eccentrically. You can also perform the pause squat variation, pausing for 3-5 seconds in each position, or you can combine the negative and pause squat variations.

Intermediate

Women who are comfortable with the double kettlebell rack squat can choose to perform negative double kettlebell rack squats where the lowering phase to each position is increased to 3-5 seconds. This trains the muscles eccentrically. You can also perform the pause squat variation, pausing for 3-5 seconds in each position, or you can combine the negative and pause squat variations.

Intermediate lifters who have mastered the double kettlebell rack squat can use this exercise as a specific warm-up to prepare their body for any barbell squatting variations. The double kettlebell rack squat can also be included as part of a HIIT circuit. This exercise can also be used in workouts that are done in de-load weeks, during recovery workouts, or as part of a workout finisher on lower body days. Lastly, double kettlebell rack squats can be done in between sets of upper body exercises as a way to increase the overall squatting volume over the course of the week.

Advanced

Advanced lifters can use the double kettlebell rack squat in their workout program the same way as intermediate lifters.

Benefits of Double Kettlebell Rack Squats:

There are many double kettlebell rack squat benefits. How a woman chooses to use this exercise is highly dependent on her overall technical ability and experience, her reason for using the exercise, the set/rep scheme used, where it falls in the workout, what it’s paired with, and what the rest periods are. In general double kettlebell rack squats can be used to do any or all of the following:

  • increasing lower body strength, primarily in the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes
  • increasing core strength, particularly the anterior core
  • teaching the basic squatting movement pattern
  • warming the body up before performing more advanced barbell squatting variations
  • fat loss (if your diet and exercise routines are conducive to fat loss)
  • conditioning (if used as part of conditioning circuits)

How to perform Double Kettlebell Rack Squats:

  • Stand with your feet so they are slightly angled out, and set your feet so they are approximately hip width in the heels and shoulder width in the toes. While the optimal stance will vary from person to person, this width seems to feel best for many. See what works best for you.
  • Clean the kettlebells into the starting position. Clasp your fingers together, and rest the kettlebells on the front of your shoulders/upper biceps area. If you aren't comfortable cleaning the kettlebells up, have someone pass them to you.
  • Before you descend into the squat, take a deep breath in (360 degrees of air around the spine), brace your core (imagine that you’re about to block a soccer ball with your stomach), and lightly tuck your rib cage down towards your hips (close the space in your midsection).
  • While maintaining muscular control and the same tempo the entire time, simultaneously move at the knees and hips, and aim to sit between your heels.
  • While you should have a slight forward lean in your torso, keep your chest up and do not allow your torso to collapse forward. Maintain a neutral spine.
  • As you stand up and return to the starting position, press your body away from the floor by squeezing your glutes, quads and hamstrings.
  • Once you reach the top position, extend your knees by squeezing your quads and hamstrings. Lock out by squeezing your glutes and pushing your hips forward, bracing your core, tucking your rib cage towards your hips (closing the space in your midsection) as this will prevent your lower back from arching and will help you maintain proper alignment.
  • Make sure that your weight remains in the mid-back portion of your feet but keep your toes down, particularly your big and baby toes. This will improve your stability and strength, and ability to perform the exercise.
  • Do not allow your knees to collapse in or fall outside of your feet.
  • Squat only as deep as proper form allows you to go. Do not sacrifice form for depth.
  • Reset before each rep.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.
  • Only add more speed when you have good squat form. Your number one priority should be good form, not making yourself tired.

Video Transcription: 

The double kettlebell rack squat is a fantastic squat variation to use when you find that your upper body can no longer hold the weight for a goblet squat that your lower body can handle.  It’s significantly easier to hold two moderate size kettlebells then it is to hold one kettlebell.  For example, I have a 26 in each hand and this is easier then holding on to a 53.

You are going to get the two kettlebells up like this (if you are not comfortable cleaning in this position, you can have someone hand them to you), you are going to clasp your fingers together you’re going to get your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart. As I discussed before everybody’s squat form is going to look a little bit different based on their limb length, their training history and any limitations they might have. Once you are here you’re going to brace your core take a big deep breath in blow your air out get your rib cage down get a breath in. That’s a double kettlebell rack squat.

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About the author:  Alli McKee

Alli is a certified strength and conditioning specialist. She's contributed to and modeled for a number of major publications including Oxygen magazine and the New Rules of Lifting: Supercharged. You can find out more about Alli on her personal blog at www.allimckee.com.

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