Choosing your first kettlebell

A kettlebell is a great piece of exercise equipment for home use – Kettlebell’s take up very little storage space, give a great workout in a short period of time and are fairly mobile (I often throw mine in the boot of my car when I’m away from home to make a mobile gym in hotel rooms).

When I bought my first kettlebell I had lots of questions and if you have found this post I am sure you do too e.g. what type should I buy? What weight should I start with? Do I need one Kettlebell or many? So let’s dive in and answer these questions.

What type of kettlebell should I choose?

Kettlebells come in many shapes and sizes, however, generally there are three main types:

  • Russian/Traditional – The original kettlebells were pioneered in Russia and manufactured from cast iron. They vary  in size/shape depending on the weight. Some are simply painted, others are coated in rubber.  Typically these are the cheapest form of kettlebell on the market.
  • Competition/Pro-  These kettlebells are uniform in size/shape no matter the weight or manufacturer. These are made from steel and tend to be more durable than the traditional type. The colour of the kettlebell shows its weight e.g. yellow 16kg, green 24 kg.
  • Novelty –  If you want something a little different, you can find skull, demon, gorillas and even female breast shaped kettlebells. Generally of these bells are 3D balanced to make sure they are fully functional. As a general rule these kettlebells are the most expensive type.

For most people I recommend  a competition/pro kettlebell,  this is mainly because the shape/size is the same no matter the weight which means that as you progress in weight your technique can remain the consistent e.g. the rack position on your arm will always be at the same point, the centre of gravity relative to the handle will be in the same position. Also, if you are doing crossfit this is the type of kettlebell you will find in boxes.

What weight should start with?

When selecting the weight of your kettlebell, it is really based on your current strength :

  • Women – The average woman just starting out should consider an 8KG bell. That said the standard Rx for crossfit for women is 16Kg.
  • Men – For a beginner 16 KG  is a good place to start, however, 24kg is the typical Rx for CrossFit.

Generally, I recommend getting perfecting your form before moving up a weight. I see so many people twisting and wobbling just trying to get the bell into a press. If in doubt ‘try before you buy’, most gyms have kettlebell’s these days.

To make things confusing, kettlebell weights are often measured in Pood’s, this is the original Russian system for measuring weight. Here are the conversions:

  • 1 Pood = 16Kg, 35 pounds
  • 1.5 Pood = 24Kg, 53 pounds
  • 2 Pood = 32Kg, 70 pounds

How many should I buy?

There are some advanced exercises that require 2 kettlebells of the same weight, however, to get started I recommend starting with a light(er) kettlebell, really focusing on form and technique.

Good luck and happy swinging!

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