What Size Kettlebell Should I Buy?
Guidelines On Choosing The Best Kettlebell Starter Weight.
This is definitely one of the most asked questions we get at Kettlebells USA®. There is no simple answer just some guidelines to help you through the process of buying your first kettlebells.
Choosing a kettlebell size depends on a few factors. First let us look at kettlebell training itself. Kettlebell movements can basically be broken down into two groups:
a) Ballistic (explosive) lifts: swings, cleans, snatches, tossing, juggling.
b) Grinds: Turkish Get-ups, overhead presses, windmills, bent presses.
For ballistic lifts you can use a heavier kettlebell than with slow, grinding movements like get-ups and windmills that must be carefully controlled throughout the entire range of movement and require a smaller bell. Therefore, you need at least two different sizes of kettlebells when learning and training with kettlebells.
Other factors that enter into the equation are age, weight, fitness level and general experience level lifting weights. Our experience with kettlebells has boiled it down to the following general recommendations for men and women.
Kettlebell Sizes for Men
Many men have the unfortunate habit of starting out with a kettlebell that is too big for them. It may come as a shock to many guys out there but they are not as strong as they think they are. Add the fact that if you have only used dumbbells and barbells for weight training, snatching a kettlebell for the first time may come as a bit of a shock to your system and ego! Men take our advice and don't buy a heavy bell unless you already know you can manage it. Kettlebell lifting is technical and requires attention to detail so choose a kettlebell size that is reasonable to start out with.
For ballistic movements like kettlebell swings, cleans and snatches an average, active man should start out with either a 16 KG | 35 Lb or a 20 KG | 44 Lb kettlebell. Athletic men should start with a kettlebell between 16 KG | 35 Lb and 28 KG | 62 Lb.
Of course if you are 250 lbs and have been lifting weights all your life, feel free to buy whatever size bell you want to! If you are not active and do not consider yourself to be "in shape" you might want to start with a 12 KG | 26 Lb kettlebell.
For controlled, grinding movements like Turkish Get-ups and windmills you should choose a kettlebell that you can easily press overhead about 8-10 times. An average, active man should start with a kettlebell between 8 KG/ |18 Lb and 12 KG | 26 Lb. Athletic men should start with a kettlebell between 12 KG | 26 Lb and 20 KG | 44 Lb. Out of shape, inactive men should try an 8 KG | 18 Lb kettlebell.
Kettlebell Sizes for Women
Unlike men, women tend to start out with a kettlebell that is too light for them, sometimes way too light! Women I have news for you; you are a lot stronger than you think you are! Lifting kettlebells will not make you big and bulky and rob you of your feminine curves. On the contrary, with proper training and dedication it will give you the body you've always wanted. So don't be scared of "heavy" kettlebells; once you learn how to unlock the power of your hips and core you will be swinging kettlebell weights you never thought possible.
For ballistic movements like kettlebell swings, cleans and snatches an average, active women should start with a kettlebell between 8 KG | 18 Lb and 12 KG |26 Lb. An athletic woman should start with a kettlebell between 12 KG | 26 Lb and 16 KG | 35 Lb. Out of shape, inactive women should try a bell between 6 KG | 13 Lb and 8 KG |18 Lb.
As with men, for controlled, grinding movements like Turkish Get-ups and windmills you should choose a kettlebell that you can easily press overhead about 8-10 times. An average, active women should start with a kettlebell between 6 KG | 13 Lb and 8 KG | 18 Lb. An athletic woman should start with a kettlebell between 8 KG | 18 Lb and 12 KG | 26 Lb and out of shape, inactive women should try a bell between 4 KG | 9 Lb and 6 KG |13 Lb.
Kettlebells for Pregnant Women
For many years medical doctors discouraged pregnant women from weight training. Recent advances in medical & exercise science has shown that pregnant women can not only lift weights but that it is highly beneficial. The leading expert on Kettlebell Training for Pregnant Women is Lauren Brooks. Lauren created the first Kettlebells for Pregnancy DVD "Baby Bells: The Fit Pregnancy Workout".
Choosing a Kettlebell: What is the difference between the different types of kettlebells?
Various styles of kettlebells are marketed these days. At Kettlebells USA® we manufacture 4 different types of kettlebells to suit the needs of everyone from beginners to professional kettlebell sport athletes. When shopping for a quality kettlebell some of the attributes to look for are:
a) A Smooth, Curved handle. Some cheap kettlebells have try-angular or squarish handles. Do not buy this type of kettlebell. Quality kettlebells come with smooth, curved handles that can be gripped anywhere on the handle, not just the top part. Some kettlebells have a smoother finish compared to others. For example our Premium Cast Iron kettlebells have a smoother finish than our Metrixx E-Coat kettlebells. Some people prefer the smoother finish and others prefer the "grippier" texture of the e-coat kettlebells.
b) Single Cast Mold With No Seams, Ridges or Rough Spots. A quality kettlebell is cast in a single step into the mold and is finished like a piece of fine furniture. Believe it or not some kettlebell handles are actually welded on and these must be avoided completely. The handle must be smooth so that it does not rip your hands up. All Kettlebells USA® kettlebells are manufactured using state of the art gravity die casting and the handles are absolutely smooth.
Cast Iron or Competition Kettlebells?
Competition or "Pro Grade" kettlebells are made to fixed specifications. They are made of steel, rather than cast iron, and are used in international kettlebell competitions. Unlike classic cast iron kettlebells, pro grade kettlebells always have the same dimensions regardless of weight. This means that whether you are using an 8 KG | 18 Lb bell or a 32 KG | 70 Lb bell, it will always rest on your forearm in the exact same place. This ensures that your technique stays consistent regardless of weight. Traditional cast iron kettlebells get larger as they get heavier, and each size rests in a slightly different place in the rack position. One very nice benefit of competition kettlebells is that they have very wide, flat bases. This makes them the safest type of kettlebell for floor drills such as demonstrated here by Senior StrongFirst Instructor Franz Snideman.
Many people mistakenly believe that only kettlebell sport athletes, competing in Girya Sport, use competition kettlebells. This is not true. Many "regular" people, kettlebell instructors, Crossfit® "boxes" and military units now use competition kettlebells for non sport lifting applications.
What Is a Pood?
You may have heard the term "pood" in association with kettlebells, or kettlebell sizes. A pood is a russian measurement of weight, and, in Russia, kettlebells are measured in poods. It is a unit of mass equal to 16.38 kilograms (36.11 pounds). Crossfit® aficionados use this term quite a lot as do many old school kettlebell instructors. At Kettlebells USA® we prefer kilograms or pounds because we think "pood" is a confusingly weird word! Nevertheless if you insist on using "pood" here are some common kettlebell sizes in poods:
1 Pood = 16 KG kettlebell
1.5 Pood = 24 KG kettlebell
2 Pood = 32 KG kettlebell
If you really, really have to convert Pounds or Kilos to Poods, then click here.
Other Considerations in Purchasing a Kettlebell.
Some other aspects of kettlebell design are grip diameter, grip width, ball diameter, the distance from the top of the ball to the bottom of the handle. We don't publish these specs for our bells because you would never make up your mind!