S & S for teenagers

Eric Wilson

Double-Digit Post Count
So I've been enjoying using kettlebells. I'm gaining strength, and I'm understanding my body better.

I'm a father of five, boys age 16, 14, 11, 8, and a 13 year-old girl. As a homeschooling family, I'm responsible for every part of my children's education, including Phys. Ed.

I'm thinking that S&S would be useful for some of my children, but I'm concerned about the jumps in weight. For example, my 14yo boy is getting comfortable swinging a 16kg kettlebell. Should I introduce him to the 24kg bell, or would an intermediate step be more appropriate at his stage in development. (He's 5' 10" and 130 lbs)

Generally speaking, what alterations would you make to S&S for teenagers?


More than 2500 posts
You can always introduce the 24 at either a lower rep count for a few more sets or just a few sets at 10 and then back to the 16 , adding sets with the 24 as he gets more comfortable.

I have a 13 year old son that trains with me a few days a week. I do 1HS with a 32 and he does sumo deadlifts with the same bell. We add or subtract reps as needed.


Double-Digit Post Count
Welcome to the forum @Eric Wilson

Teach him to Swing the 24 the same way you taught him to Swing the 16, ie all the regressions and spend some extra time on the Dead Swing, here is an article on the Dead Swing.
The Origins of the Dead Swing | StrongFirst

If he is Swinging the 16 with one hand, you can have him Swing the 24 with two and use this article to progress to one hand Swings.
Simple & Sinister: Getting from Two- to One-Hand Swings | StrongFirst

You can also just reduce the reps for heavier Swing's, the Dead Swing uses very low reps 1-3 and the A+A method generally uses 5-7, so feel free to play with the rep ranges, especially while he is still learning.
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Oso Rojo

Double-Digit Post Count
You may want to pass a bond issue to increase the school budget in kettlebell sizes, hahahahaha. Seriously you may want to invest in the in between sizes below 16kg to get the younger boys and young lady started. Swinging light weights with concentration on form would be invaluable for them as they get older. I have no understanding of what age is appropriate to start piling on the weight but light weight with good form is good at any age where they have the coordination.

Manuel Fortin

Triple-Digit Post Count
@Eric Wilson Hello to a fellow homeschooling family. We homeschool our daughter (she just turned 9) and I also started using kettlebells this fall as part of physed, among many other things. What is your experience with swings? So far, I only taught her grinds (press, goblet squat and kettlebell deadlift). Are the younger ones able to swing proficiently? For my daughter, strength does not bother me (she deadlifted a 32kg bell last week, with perfect form, go girl!), but coordination does. I have been trying to get her to clean when she presses, but it's a bit ugly. I tried to get her to swing a 10 pounds bell, but that was too light, and the 30 pounds is too heavy. My take was not go for swings this year and buy an intermediate bell, say 8 or 12 kg next year. However, if you had a positive experience with swings with your younger kids, I may change my mind. In the summer, she plays competitive tennis, so there will probably be no or very little strength training.

As to your question, I think the other responses sum up your options. As a guideline, my take is always to be very strict with form. As soon as power/bell speed/bell height decreases or as soon as the back rounds, the set is over. This should be true for the adults too for most of their training, but kids really need guidance, especially if they are a bit competitive. My priorities are safety > pleasure > performance. This means you cannot perform a set at the same time as your kids do it, but I use the I go /you go format with great success.


Quadruple-Digit Post Count
So, judging by your question relating to 400/800 running....looking to use S&S as the agt component? Yes?

Then, yes.

I dunno about kids physical development, other than referring back to my own non stop high energy bouncebackability could play all day and never get tired if I got injured I would be fine for another thrashing about falling out of trees again in the morning sort of childhood....and perhaps we all did in those halcyon days before health and safety went all health and safety on us and kids took an early retirement to the dangers of sitting on a playstation for 18 hours a day everyday....but that's another story....

S&S is a fine adjunct to running. I'd just give them a bell and let 'em rip in a moderate manner when they are not burning up the track. I'm old. Works for me.

I'd get them jumping out of trees too.

Eric Wilson

Double-Digit Post Count
@Manuel Fortin

My 16yo isn't currently doing swings -- he doesn't have particulalry good coordination, and was finding it awkward. I'm having him do deadlifts for now, hope to transition to swings in a bit.

My 14yo swings well.

My 13yo seems to have the hang of it now, but it hasn't been easy for her to learn.

I haven't attempted to introduce swings to my 11yo or my 9yo. They are currently doing goblet squats and pushups. I've found that the goblet squat is easier to teach then the deadlift.

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
When teaching swings, try the dead-stop kind - one rep and you're done and have parked the bell. It offers the opportunity to do sets, or to wait for instruction/correction before doing a second rep.



First Timer
Yes, our nine-year-old has expressed some interest in the kettlebell; our seven-year-old will undoubtedly follow suit. I was going to start them with goblet squats, halos and deadlifts before doing swings and turkish getups -- ie, have them follow Simple & Sinister like their old man -- but the dead-stop recommendation sounds worthwhile. They're a hundred pounds a piece, and the older one is a competitive squash player.

Eric Wilson

Double-Digit Post Count
Well, a word of caution.

My 14 year old split his finger this morning when the 12 kg bell landed on it. Stitches required, thankfully not broken.

Obviously, if I'd taught better, and if he'd been more careful this wouldn't have happened. Nevertheless, re-evaluating the cost/benefits of TGUs for my teenagers, given that there are safer options.

Manuel Fortin

Triple-Digit Post Count
I would not be too hard on yourself (although I would probably blame myself if my daughter got injured while lifting). Kids (and teens) will be kids. They don't have yet an appreciation for what is dangerous or not for many things. Some are obvious as they experienced it, but some are not. When I was 16 or 17 I was going down a hill with my bicycle and did not want to stop for the red traffic light. I was told many times that this was not a good idea, but I did not see any car, so I ran it. I almost got killed as a car just outside of my field of view hit my back wheel. I was told not to run red lights, but did I listen? No! Well, after that, I became much more cautious on my bicycle.

This new thing, the kettlebell, will not register as dangerous for many kids (and adults too!). For me, the takeaway is not to stop training kids, but to repeat that weights can be dangerous and must be respected, even if they give you "the look", after the 100th time you tell them so. Also, spotting them is an option anytime they lift something that is moderately heavy for them.

Eric Wilson

Double-Digit Post Count
@Manuel Fortin Certainly not going to stop -- just considering at what point TGUs should be introduced.

For now, TGUs are on hold until the stitches come out, using shoulder press in its place for the time being, its a good movement to learn in any case.

I'm glad he was able to have the learning experience without a broken bone, in any case.

Manuel Fortin

Triple-Digit Post Count
@Eric Wilson As I mentioned, you can always spot them. In other words, have your hands within a few inches of the kettlebell for the whole duration of the TGU. That way, if anything goes wrong, you can avoid injury. But I agree, while a good movement, the TGU is not essential and the only getups I get my daughter to do is the unweighted variety. Similar (but different) stimulation can be achieved with presses and carries. In fact, one summer I did almost no TGUs, but a lot of overhead and rack carries, along with a few snatches, and my TGU went up.

On a related note, many years ago we had a young adult in my rugby club, 20 or 21, who broke a finger by dropping a 20kg plate on it while lifting weight. It's not only kids... We teased him about it for at least 6 months, with calls to give a demonstration of how to handle weights safely in the weight room.
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