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 24 kg - 53 b.
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.
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. We manufacture both classic cast iron kettlebells and steel competition kettlebells. For an explanation of the difference between our kettlebell types please click here. 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 Metrixx® Elite Precision E-Coat kettlebells have a slightly smoother finish than our Metrixx® Classic E-Coat kettlebells. Some people prefer the smoother finish and others prefer the "grippier" texture of the classic 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 and are fast becoming the favorite kettlebell of many "fitness' lifters as well. To find out more about the differences between cast iron and competition kettlebells click here.
Plastic kettlebells, demon face & monkey face kettlebells, adjustable kettlebells and kettlebell-dumbbell hybrids & other weird deigns.
Kettlebells USA® never has, and does not, manufacture or sell plastic kettlebells, kettlebells with monkey and demon faces on them, adjustable kettlebells and all manner of kettlebell-dumbbell hybrids that are on the market today. Why? Well we could certainly could, like so many of our competitiors, and make lots of money doing it too, however there is a very good reason that we do not. As one of the worlds most experienced and well respected kettlebell coaches, Steve Cotter, explains "Those really aren't kettlebells, they look like kettlebells but unfortunately the manufacturers don't undertstand the science behind it. The kettlebells really are designed to be balanced in a certain way and they're actually precise tools..."
Kettlebells USA® is a profesional kettlebell company and we are serious about providing the best tools to enable athletes, coaches and regular people the finest kettlebells possible for the goals they have. If a kettlebell can be improved by new materials or a new engineering insight or manufacturing process so that real users will benefit then we will do so, however, we are not interested in gimmicks that are solely designed to misinform consumers and take their hard earned money from them. We have been in the kettlebell business for some years now and we will not compromise our principles just to make money off innocent, uninformed consumers. After all we use kettlebells too, we don't just sell them. Our kettlebells are made for real world use.
How Many Kettlebells Do I Need?
You can do a lot with just one kettlebell; a kettlebell really is a portable gym. When you are just starting out with kettlebells you should make sure you first master single kettlebell exercises before advancing to double kettlebell swings, clean, snatches etc. There is no sense using two kettlebells unless your form is perfect. Without proper kettlebell lifting technique you will not get the full benefit of the movement and you greatly increase your chance of injury, and this defeats the purpose of training with kettlebells in the first place. We recomend that whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced lifter, that you have a few kettlebells in different weights. This allows you to scale your training and workouts up and down. Also the high leverage lifts such as Turkish Get-ups, Windmills and Bottoms-up presses, require less weight especially when you are first learning them so having a range of kettlebell weights will give you the required training flexibility need to progress. If your budget can handle it then buy at least two kettlebells to start with in different weights and then add to your collection as your form gets better and your conditioning level increases. We have a number of discounted kettlebell packages that take the gueswork out of it for you.
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 approximate poods:
- 1 Pood = 16 kg - 35 lb kettlebell
- 1.5 Pood = 24 kg - 53 lb kettlebell
- 2 Pood = 32 kg - 70 lb kettlebell
- 3 Pood = 48 kg - 106 lb 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!
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