What Kettlebell Weight Should I Get?
by Sam Franklin
What Size Kettlebell Should You Choose?
Our pick of the best kettlebell weights for men, women and beginners
To get the most out of your kettlebell workout and minimize your risk of injury, make sure you choose the kettlebell weight which is right for you.
After spending 100s of hours in the gym training clients and after selling 1000s of kettlebells to customers around the world, we found that average beginner women should start with a 12KG and men with a 16KG.
Athletic women or those with prior experience should start with a 16KG, while a 20KG would be best for similar men.
As a rule of thumb, these sizes offer the average person the opportunity to build up strength, perfect technique and improve cardio, at the same time as being safe enough to reduce the risk of injury, but still challenging enough to offer a kickass workout.
What’s more, by picking a good all-round weight, you can use it for a year (or even longer) to perfect the basics of kettlebell single-arm exercises, without the need to purchase a set or multiple sizes.
What weight kettlebell should a man use?
Kettlebell training is technical and requires concentration in order to ensure that you don’t injure yourself when starting out.
Because of this, it’s important that you always start with a reasonable weight. If you’re worried it’s too light, don’t be.
Once you’ve perfected your form, you can increase the weight as your strength and experience grow, along with adding in double-handed kettlebell exercises.
We recommend that beginner, less athletic males should start with a 16KG kettlebell.
If you’re a beginner kettlebell user, but have prior weight training experience or are athletic, you may feel confident to start with a 20KG instead.
Once you’ve built up your strength and technique, you will be able to progress towards using a 24KG for the full range of double-handed kettlebell exercises.
And, as your knowledge of different exercises expands, you can alternate between lighter weights for grind exercises and heavier for ballistics.
These weight ranges are a guide. Of course, if you’re very new to exercise, you can consider using a lower weight, while extremely athletic men may want to increase it.
What weight kettlebell should a woman use?
As a general rule of thumb, most women begin with an 12KG kettlebell. However, more athletic women will be able to begin with a 16KG. In both cases, it won’t be long before you can move up to a 16KG or 20KG respectively.
Many women make the mistake of starting with a weight that is too light for them. It is certainly important not to overdo it when you start, however, paradoxically, using a weight that is too light is also bad news.
In order to get the best out of kettlebell exercises, you need to have enough weight to ensure that your form is correct. If the weight is too light, you will end up lifting using your muscle, instead of the correct technique.
You won’t reap the rewards of the workout and you’ll struggle to progress to heavier weights.
Again, these ranges should be treated as a general rule of thumb. Consider the other factors above such as your age, workout goals, and other weightlifting experiences.
How to choose the correct kettlebell weight
One of the most common (and important) questions we are asked is — what kettlebell weight should I get?
If you’re just starting out with kettlebells and unsure how much you’ll enjoy the workouts (hint, you’re going to love them), or you’re not quite ready to invest in a full set, you first need to decide on what kettlebell size to buy.
Like most exercise equipment, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all kettlebell. However, to help you make a choice, there are a few benchmarks depending on your age, workout type, fitness ability, and so on.
Using the right size will not only ensure that you get the most out of your workout, but it will also help prevent injuries.
Whether you’re new to kettlebells or you’re an advanced user switching up your kettlebell routine, read on for our guide to choosing the correct kettlebell weight.
We’ll cover how to choose the perfect weight for your experience, fitness, age, workout type, and more.
Key factors to consider when choosing a kettlebell weight
Everyone’s body is different. As are their workout regimes and exercise types. Therefore, it goes without saying that the weight of the kettlebell isn’t the same for everyone.
The size you will need depends on a variety of factors. So before you make your purchase, consider these questions:
What type of kettlebell exercises will you do? Ballistic or grind?
First, the type of exercise you will be doing has an impact on the size of the kettlebell you need.
Kettlebell exercises fall into two groups: ballistic or grind exercises.
Ballistics kettlebell exercises are explosive and dynamic. They are multi-joint exercises like the Swing, Jerk, Clean and Snatch.
As well as using multiple muscles, ballistic exercises are excellent cardio workouts involving your heart and your lungs.
Grinds, on the other hand, refer to more controlled, slower exercises such as pressing, pulling or squatting. Example exercises include the Deadlift, Goblet Squat, and Sumo Deadlift.
Grind exercises require constant tension throughout the whole exercise, as well as a smooth transition between muscle to muscle group, and sustained breathing.
As a rule of thumb, ballistic exercises require a heavier weight than grind exercises.
Do you have prior weightlifting experience?
The ideal kettlebell weight for you depends on your previous experience with other weights and weightlifting.
If you’re a beginner at lifting weights, your starting kettlebell weight will be far less than someone who has a lot of weight training experience and already has more advanced control over their full-body movement.
Take a moment to consider what other weight training you’ve done and the level you are at:
- Do you regularly train with dumbbells or the Olympic bar?
- What weights can you confidently lift?
- How long have you been weight lifting for?
- Have you perfected your technique on other kinds of weights?
- Are you a beginner at weight lifting?
What are your main workout goals?
Most of the above have certain overlaps but if I wanted to lose weight I would be doing very different workouts than if I wanted to gain strength.
There are many reasons people choose to take up kettlebell workouts. And like any other workout, it’s important to understand what you would like to achieve before getting started.
Your workout goals will impact the size of the weight you should use, as well as the type and frequency of your kettlebell exercises.
Kettlebells are awesome because they can be used for a wide variety of goals and muscle groups.
Many exercises offer a full-body workout, as well as a cardio session thrown in. You can use kettlebells for weight loss, endurance training, stability, muscle building, strength training, and even cardio.
With such a wide range of benefits, before you choose your kettlebell weight, decide what you are trying to achieve:
- Are you working towards weight loss?
- Would you like to gain muscle?
- Do you want a full-body workout?
- Would you like to improve your cardio?
Age, gender and current fitness level
Your age, gender, and current fitness level all impact your choice of kettlebell size.
If you are newer to exercise, you will need to start on a lower weight while you work up through the range of sizes.
On the other hand, if you’ve been training for a while using other exercises, but you’re a beginner kettlebell user, you may feel more confident starting on a slightly heavier weight.
Likewise, men and/or younger people may start with a slightly heavier weight, while women or older kettlebell users will start with a lighter kettlebell.
The kettlebell handle diameter is also important to consider depending on where you buy your kettlebell.
Traditionally, the diameter of the handle on standard kettlebells gets larger as the weight increases.
In other words, if you’ve smaller hands, the diameter of the larger weights may not be suitable for you. Alternatively, if you’ve larger hands, the smaller size of the smaller weights may not be comfortable for you.
Conversely, Competition Kettlebells have consistent handle geometry regardless of the size of the bell.
At Original Kettlebell, we’ve designed a handle that is consistent across all of our kettlebell sizes so that your form can stay uniform regardless of what weight you are using.
Standard kettlebell sizes
Kettlebells range from 5 lbs to 100 lbs. The most common sizes range between 6KG to 32KG, however, smaller and larger sizes can be purchased.
When you increase the weight of your kettlebell, you will notice that the sizes jump by 4 KG increments.
While this may seem like a large increase, and we often get asked for kettlebells in 2KG increments (for example, 10KG or 14KG), we actually recommend sticking with the traditional 4KG change.
We prefer to increase the weight by the standard 4KG increment, however, decrease the reps and the intensity of the workout until you are comfortable at the higher size.
The key to moving up a size is ensuring your form stays perfect. If you find your technique is slipping as you’ve increased in weight, don’t be scared to move back down, perfect your technique, then make the move again.
What are poods?
You may have seen the term poods when researching for the ideal kettlebell weight.
Kettlebells originated in Russia and the term, poods, relates to a Russian measurement of weight.
- 8kg = 0.5 Pood
- 16kg = 1 Pood
- 24kg = 1.5 Pood
- 32kg = 2 Pood
- 48KG = 3 Pood
If you’re shopping in the USA or UK, we use KG and LBs to make it clear.
How many kettlebells do you need?
There are a ton of exercises that can be done with a single kettlebell.
In fact, for beginners, we highly recommend starting with just one until you’ve had time to build up strength and form.
When you start out, it’s realistic that you could spend up to a year learning and perfecting the technique of multiple single kettlebell exercises.
For many exercises using only one kettlebell, an average female would be able to use a 12KG, while a male could do the same with a 16KG for a significant period of time.
Only when you feel comfortable with one kettlebell, you are able to move up to double kettlebell exercises.
However, before you do so, you need to be confident that you can safely control the additional weight. If you’re unsure, it’s always a good idea to ask an expert trainer for advice.
The benefit of double kettlebell exercises is that you can efficiently train both sides of your body at the same time. Not only does this cut down your exercise time, but it also makes your workout tougher.
Summing up - what kettlebell size should you buy?
The size of your kettlebell depends on a wide variety of factors. From your age, your fitness, to your choice of exercises.
It’s completely possible to use the same single kettlebell for one or more years as you get used to kettlebell workouts. If you’re smart, one correctly sized kettlebell can last you for many years.
If you’re still unsure about the size to choose, contact us. One of our Master Kettlebell Trainers is on hand ready to answer your questions about weight, or anything else.
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