If you’re new to kettlebell training, it’s important to choose a kettlebell weight that works for you. Even if you’ve got years of weightlifting experience, you need to be careful.
Kettlebells work specific muscles, and you don’t want to be overly confident and potentially risk an injury. This article will help you find the right size kettlebell weight.
Does It Matter How Much I Can Lift?
While your previous lifting record is important for your workout progress, a kettlebell is a different beast. Think of it like this: just because you can ride a trained horse doesn’t mean you’re ready to handle a wild mustang.
You need to start from a comfortable weight because your body has no idea what a kettlebell will do.
Kettlebells are mighty devices, and they need to be handled carefully. Just because you can do curls with a 60-pound dumbbell, it doesn’t mean you can handle that same weight with a kettlebell.
Since kettlebell training often involves the use of multiple muscles at a time, too much weight could put you through a lot of strain.
Treat every lifting device as its own thing and start with a reasonable weight for each one. If you know that you won’t be able to lift it without sacrificing form or hurting yourself, go lighter.
It should be large enough that you have to put in work, but small enough that you can do so correctly.
Working with a Trainer
You should get a trainer to help you learn proper kettlebell-lifting technique. If you can’t afford one, ask a friend or someone at the gym with kettlebell experience to watch you.
Follow their instruction and go at a reasonable pace. Most importantly, make sure you’re starting with a reasonable weight.
If you’re at the gym, look at the kettlebell weights they have available. Start with the smallest one, even if you know it’ll be too light.
Keep going up until you reach one that’s going to put yourself in a more demanding position. Your trainer should also be given a chance to offer advice, whether it’s about the weight or your form.
Kettlebell Weight for Men vs. Women
Your kettlebell weight can depend on your gender. This isn’t the only thing to consider, as a muscular woman can handle a heavier kettlebell than a skinny man. However, we want this advice to help both men and women who’re getting into kettlebells.
For men, a good place to start is with a 35-pound kettlebell. Women would be best starting with an 18-pound one.
Both of these are good beginning points, as they require focus and control without being so light that muscle groups aren’t properly worked.
Again, this isn’t meant to be a universal rule. However, if you’re new to kettlebells, we have a feeling you’re new to weightlifting in general.
With that in mind, you shouldn’t get ahead of yourself.
Related article: What size kettlebell should you buy.
What Are the Issues of Starting With Kettlebell Weights That Are Too Heavy?
No one is impressed by the person at the gym who tries to lift something they can’t handle. It doesn’t matter if you’re keeping “proper form” in mind. There’s no such thing as proper form if you’re not choosing the proper weight.
If your kettlebell is too heavy, you’re going to strain and hurt. Trying to force it can have you bringing in muscles that your kettlebell workout isn’t meant to use.
There are other ways you can hurt yourself with a kettlebell beyond pulling muscles.
Word to wise: start with a small weight, as you don’t want to be known as “the person who dropped a kettlebell on their foot” at the gym.
What Are the Issues of Starting Too Light?
It’s a lot harder to hurt yourself when you’re starting with too small of a kettlebell. However, it’s also not going to do much for your physique.
They can be good for working through form, but you’ll need to graduate to bigger things eventually.
For instance, if you start doing bicep curls with a kettlebell that’s too light, you’re bound to rush through it. There’s not going to be any resistance, and you’ll get bored of it pretty quickly.
Hopefully, you’ll take the right course of action, picking up a kettlebell that will actually pose something of a challenge.
Do I Need More Than One Kettlebell?
You can definitely benefit from multiple kettlebells in different sizes. You can do many different moves with kettlebells, and you might need to start with a smaller kettlebell when you’re first learning a move.
Like with any hobby, though, it’s best to start slowly rather than obsessing over what everyone else is using.
If you’re tight on space or want to get the best bang for your buck, using an adjustable kettlebell like the Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Kettlebell (see on Amazon) is a great option. You can see my full Bowflex Adjustable Kettlebell review here.
Ballistics vs. Grinds
Kettlebell moves are divided between ballistics and grinds. These are based on speed of motion, with ballistics being faster and grinds being slower. Some ballistic moves include kettlebell swings, jerks, and snatches.
Grinds include deadlifts, squats, and military presses. As with other aspects of using kettlebells, weight matters for your moves.
Ballistics are better with lighter kettlebells, and grinds are better with heavier ones. Since ballistics are more demanding and require you to go faster, you don’t want to use too much weight. Grinds need to be done as slowly as possible.
With both types of exercises, you need to be breathing steadily and adhering to proper form.
There are also hybrid exercises, combining elements of ballistics and grinds. These can be difficult to get used to, requiring even more movement and working more muscles.
Give yourself time to adjust to ballistics and grinds separately before you try to combine them.
Final Thoughts Kettlebell Weights for Beginners
You have a long way to go as a kettlebell beginner. That’s not meant to be discouraging, because starting off carefully sets you up for success in the future.
Choose a weight that’s reasonable without being too light (35 pounds for men, 18 pounds for women), and make sure you follow proper form. Before long, you’ll be impressing your friends with your kettlebell technique and your resultant muscles.