Using a kettlebell is one of the most effective tools to deliver full body workouts when it comes to both building muscle and burning fat. Kettlebells can be used for various reasons, including increasing your strength, endurance, balance, flexibility, and more.
One study found that kettlebell swing exercises can improve cardiorespiratory fitness, maximum strength (amount of weight you can lift), and explosive strength (amount of power you generate).
However, when it comes to using a kettlebell, your form and swing technique must be correct. To help achieve this, you need to make sure that you purchase the right size; otherwise, you could increase your risk of injury
Buy the Right Kettlebell for the Right Exercise
When picking out a kettlebell, there are a few essential details to consider to make you sure you pick the right one. One crucial question to ask yourself is which type of exercise are you looking to do?
There are two main types of exercises a kettlebell can be used for: ballistic and grinds.
Ballistic training increases explosiveness and power, usually through exercises such as throwing or jumping with weights. Ballistic movements require the central nervous system to coordinate and produce the greatest amount of force in the shortest amount of time.
Since ballistic exercises focus more on power and force, a heavier sized weight is ideal for this training. When performing exercises such as kettlebell swings, cleans, and snatches, the recommended weight for a kettlebell for men ranges from 35 lbs to 53 lbs. The suggested weight for women varies between 18 lbs to 35 lbs.
Note: If you work out from home, one of the most economical choices in terms of money and space is an adjustable kettlebell like the Bowflex Adjustable Kettlebell (available on Amazon). See my Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Kettlebell review.
Grind exercises require control which is why this type of training is typically slower than when performing a ballistic routine. When choosing a kettlebell to do exercises such as windmills, get-ups, and bench presses, look for one that you can press over your head about 8-10 times.
Typically men want to look for a kettlebell that weighs between 18-44 lbs when doing grind exercises, whereas women should look for one that weighs anywhere from 13-26 pounds.
Buy the Right Kettlebell for Your Fitness Level
The size of your kettlebell depends on a few different variables; one of them being fitness level.
While you may be physically active and ready to take on a heavily weighted kettlebell, it depends on your experience when it comes to weights. If the only equipment you typically use are dumbbells or barbells when it comes to weight training, veer on the lighter side at first until you are comfortable working with a kettlebell.
Kettlebell Size for Beginners
Beginners will want to invest in at least (2) different size kettlebells until they know which exercises they are interested in doing and what goals they are looking to achieve.
When you use kettlebells for the first time, it is important to pick one at the right beginner size to practice the correct technique and form.
For beginners, the recommended size for men is 35 lbs and 18 lbs for women.
Best Kettlebell Size for Intermediate Athletes
Those who do have some weight training experience and have experience lifting over 200 lbs are often considered as intermediate.
Men may want to use a 44 lb kettlebell at the intermediate level, and intermediate women use a 26 lb kettlebell.
Best Kettlebell Size for Advanced Weight Training
Those in the advanced level have full body control when it comes to their movements, and they have significant weight training experience. Because of this, they can lift much heavier weight levels than the other two groups.
For advanced men, the suggested weight for a kettlebell is 53 lbs, and the recommended weight for women at the same level is 35 lbs.
Please keep in mind that these weights are recommendations, and you should make sure that you are comfortable and able to complete a move without compromising your form.
A good rule of thumb is to make sure that you can do five reps of any weight training exercise with the weight you choose until you can do 20 repetitions of that exercise easily.
What Size Kettlebell Handle Should I Buy?
Kettlebell handles come in a variety of diameters and types. Some are more narrow with a thick handle while others may be wide with a thinner handle.
A good handle should have a comfortable fit for your hands and be the right size and thickness for you (standard is 35 millimeters). The handle should also be sanded and smooth to prevent cuts, but not too slick where it could slip out of your hands.
It is important to note that there are 2 different types of kettlebells that may also affect the weight and handle size.
What are the 2 Different Types of Kettlebells?
There are 2 types of kettlebells: competition kettlebells and cast iron kettlebells.
Competition kettlebells have a square-shaped handle that is much smaller than the handle on a cast iron one. The difference in shape is because competition kettlebells are made to be used with just one hand. The amount of weight does not affect the size and shape.
A cast iron kettlebell is made from one piece of solid metal, meaning that the kettlebell’s size will increase with the weight. Unlike competition kettlebells, these weights are meant to be used with two hands if needed.
Beginner kettlebell users may want to start with a cast iron kettlebell since the handle is generally wider and allows for variety in workouts. The cast iron allows you to switch up your exercises from one-handed to two-handed and is considered more versatile.
How To Decide What Kettlebell Size to Buy?
It really comes down to what you feel the most comfortable with. As mentioned before, you can go one of two routes… buy a set of at least two kettlebells in different weights and sizes, or go with an adjustable kettlebell like the Bowflex SelectTech (available on Amazon) which ranges from 8 to 40lbs.