A+A question. Why 1 arm instead of 2 arms?

Discussion in 'Kettlebell' started by Oscar, Sep 3, 2018.

  1. Oscar

    Oscar Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    For the last 2 years I didn't see this question addressed so here it goes:

    For A+A protocols, why are the 1 arm snatch and the 1 arm swing usually used, instead of double snatch or 2 hand swing (very heavy)?

    As far as I understand, A+A uses compound movements that require great power. But for 1 hand swings and snatches, the limiting factor usually is grip strength or unilateral strength. So why are one hand swings chosen over heavy 2 hand swings, or single bell snatches over doubles?

    I know @Steve W. Likes double cleans, maybe because you can go heavier than single bell snatches?
  2. Steve W.

    Steve W. Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Yes, I like double cleans because:
    --You can overload the ballistic hinge without going to expensive monster bells, or buying or making a separate apparatus for heavy swings.
    --The cumulative time zipped up in the rack leaves me feeling tied together and carries over to presses and double front squats.
    --They feel very natural to me and I enjoy doing them, much more than double (two bell) swings, double snatches, or two-arm swings.
    --I find they make a great complement to single snatches with the same size bell, and snatches seem to fly up when I've been practicing a lot of double cleans.

    IMO, the double snatch is kind of a specialized exercise. You really have to lower the bells to the rack between reps, so the drop is like a double clean anyway, each rep takes a lot longer than single snatches, double cleans, or any type of swing, and there is more local muscular fatigue in the arms and shoulders (Neither side ever gets a set off as in alternating sets of single snatches). So I don't think they are as suited for high volume training. I also don't really enjoy them as much as single snatches.

    Personally, I always prefer snatches and cleans over swings. I like the sense of completion at the top of each rep and the benefits of spending a lot of cumulative time zipped up in the lockout or rack position.

    If you are just looking at swings, one-arm swings vs heavier two-arm swings is a legit question. I personally prefer gripping a KB with one arm for everything except goblet squats. Two-arm swings feel constricting to me both in terms of space on the KB handle and arm position (and I'm not a big guy). Staying squared up during one-arm swings makes me feel more tied together, and I kind of like the fact that grip is usually a limiting factor, for the grip strength development, but even more for autoregulation of progress.

    I know some people just want to put two arms on the bell and swing heavier, and I don't think that's necessarily wrong, but in my personal practice, that need is filled by snatches (larger ROM = more potential energy to absorb/more kinetic energy to generate) and double cleans (larger mass = more potential energy to absorb/more kinetic energy to generate).
    Bret S., Oscar, CraigW and 3 others like this.
  3. Al Ciampa

    Al Ciampa Quadruple-Digit Post Count Certified Instructor

    "A+A" is more about the particular work:rest ratio, and high volume work at low biological cost. Single arm work provides unilateral, and an entirely under-appreciated, loading.

    I personally dislike double snatches; but so what?
    WxHerk, Oscar, rickyw and 3 others like this.
  4. Anders

    Anders Triple-Digit Post Count

    What does biological cost mean ?
  5. Sean M

    Sean M Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    @Anna C laid it out nicely here.

    Well, Al could probably speak to this better, but I would say no, it wasn't created for the HR response or even the CVS adaptations, primarily. It's about building a certain kind of work capacity in a healthy, non-stressful, sustainable way. Strength, power, and muscular endurance to go the distance. Mitochondrial development is one primary objective because increased michondrial density has health benefits. Aerobic adaptations, yes -- but I think mainly of mitochondria and aerobic energy processes meaning fat-burning and aerobic glycolysis -- the energy to replenish PCr being supplied by aerobic processes rather than the increased sugar-burning and H+ production in anaerobic glycolysis fueling the work. Maybe also aerobic enzymes and increased capillaries. Heart and lungs - CVS? Sure, but sort of as a by-product -- they too become more effiencient to fuel the work being done and deliver oxygen and clear by-products (thus, lower HR for same work, and/or more work with same HR, as one gets stronger and better through the training). ​
    Stuart Elliott, Oscar and Bret S. like this.
  6. Bro Mo

    Bro Mo Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    When doing 2H swings, I require more reps to achieve the same HR response. Those additional reps are at a cost of muscle damage I suppose.
  7. Oscar

    Oscar Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Thanks all for the replies. I thought that the possibility of going heavier with 2 hand would be a benefit for A+A, in particular 2 hand swings versus 1 hand swings. I think I now understand that the focus is not on using the tool that allows the maximum power, but on doing a lot of quality volume at low biological cost.

    Stuart Elliott likes this.
  8. krg

    krg Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Actually, as a personal observation, I've observed the opposite. For me a set of 5 2HS will spike my heart rate higher than 1HS.

    I think it's because I can express more power in the 2HS.
    WxHerk, KIWI5 and Steve W. like this.
  9. WxHerk

    WxHerk More than 300 posts Certified Instructor

    @Bro Mo are you using the same weight for one-handed and two-handed swings?

    I believe it depends on the weight. You are likely using a heavier weight for the two-handed swings. Personally, the 48kg is my one-hand swing limit. That's as heavy as I can swing one-handed. Usually, it's a 32kg or 40kg, though.

    Two handed, I usually swing the 56kg and sometimes 68kg. On occasion I swing a 92kg bell, with which I can get 5-7 good reps. Considering the same two hips are swinging the bell, the heavier bell(s) should spike the heartrate higher. Yes, I am working a bit to keep my shoulders square and torso aligned, but I do not believe that will make a big difference in heartrate, at least nowhere near the difference between lighter/heavier bells.
    Oscar likes this.
  10. Jan

    Jan More than 500 posts

    Holy sh...!
    What is the diameter of that thing?
  11. WxHerk

    WxHerk More than 300 posts Certified Instructor

    Here it is:

    Gary Music, Jan, KIWI5 and 6 others like this.

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