How to Choose the Best Kettlebell Weight to Start With

How to Choose the Best Kettlebell Weight to Start With

Nov 15, 2023

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How to Choose the Best Kettlebell Weight to Start With

Kettlebells are an extremely effective strength training tool that can help you build power, coordination, and endurance through performing dynamic full body exercises.

But with kettlebells ranging from as light as 5 lbs all the way up to well over 100 lbs, how do you know which kettlebell weight to start with as a beginner?

Choosing the right size kettlebell is crucial - too light and you won't challenge yourself enough, too heavy and you could injure yourself or develop bad form.

This article will walk you through the key factors to consider when picking the best kettlebell weight to start with for your fitness level and goals.

What Type of Kettlebell Should I Use?

There are a few different types of kettlebells, each with their own pros and cons:

  • Cast iron kettlebells - The traditional style. These are durable and can withstand being dropped. Good for swings and ballistics. Heavier than other styles.

SFE Black Cast Iron Kettlebell – Sports & Fitness Exchange

  • Competition style kettlebells - Used for sport competitions. More consistent size and have a broader, flat bottom for easier storage when racked. Not great for swings.

Competition Kettlebell

  • Adjustable kettlebells - Allows you to change weight with a dial. Convenient but can have durability issues long term. : Polyfit Adjustable Kettlebell Weights for Home Gym | 30 lb :  Sports & Outdoors

Most experts recommend starting with a solid cast iron or competition style bell in a single weight rather than adjustable. The set weight helps teach proper form.

What are the Standard Kettlebell Sizes?

Kettlebells are measured in weight, not volume. The standard weights used are:

  • 5 lbs (2 kg)
  • 8 lbs (4 kg)
  • 12 lbs (6 kg)
  • 16 lbs (8 kg)
  • 20 lbs (10 kg)
  • 24 lbs (12 kg)
  • 28 lbs (14 kg)
  • 32 lbs (16 kg)

Weights then go up in 4 kg / 10 lb increments. Heavier kettlebells over 60 lbs may be measured in Russian measurements called poods. 1 pood = 16 kg or ~ 35 lbs.

What’s the Best Kettlebell Weight for Women?

Most women new to kettlebell training should start with a 12-16 lb (5-8 kg) kettlebell. If you have weight training experience, are athletic, or weigh over 160 lbs, you may be able to start with a 20 lb (10 kg) bell.

Here are general recommendations based on experience level:

  • New to weight training: 8-12 lbs
  • Some experience: 12-16 lbs
  • Athletic or CrossFit: 16-22 lbs
  • Advanced: 22-26 lbs

Always focus on good form rather than going too heavy too quickly. Proper technique is key to preventing injury.

What’s the Best Kettlebell Weight for Men?

The best starting weight for men is generally 16-26 lbs (8-12 kg) depending on fitness level and experience:

  • Beginners: 16-22 lbs
  • Some experience: 22-26 lbs
  • Athletic: 26-32 lbs
  • Advanced: 32+ lbs

If you're unsure, err on the side of a lighter kettlebell until your form is mastered. You can always progress up in weight.

How Heavy of a Kettlebell Should I Use?

Choosing the right kettlebell weight comes down to finding the best weight to challenge you while maintaining proper form. It needs to be heavy enough to be effective yet light enough you can control it.

Here are some signs you need to go heavier:

  • You can do 20 swings easily with perfect form
  • The weight feels too light during arm movements like presses
  • You don't feel muscle fatigue by the end of your workout

And signs you should drop down in weight:

  • Swinging causes strain on your lower back
  • Your muscles shake as you struggle to maintain form
  • The weight feels like it will pull your shoulder from its socket

Ideally, choose a weight where you feel challenged and fatigued but can maintain good form for the full duration of the workout. The last few reps should be difficult but not sloppy.

How Do You Choose the Right Kettlebell Weight?

There are many aspects to consider when choosing the best kettlebell weight:

  • Your current strength and fitness level
  • Any injuries or physical limitations
  • Your experience with weight training
  • The types of kettlebell exercises you’ll be doing
  • Your fitness goals
  • Proper kettlebell lifting technique

If you’re new to kettlebells, it’s best to consult a personal trainer who can evaluate your abilities and prescribe the right starting weight.

But in general, here are some tips for choosing the best weight to start with:

  • Start lighter rather than heavier - it's safer as you build coordination and proper mechanics.
  • Women usually start with 8-15 lbs and men 15-25 lbs depending on fitness.
  • Pick a weight you can press overhead 10 times with proper form.
  • Choose a weight that allows 15-20 solid swings without compromising form.
  • Buy at least two kettlebells 5-10 lbs apart to allow for progressing.
  • Be conservative and increase gradually - gains will still come with the right technique.
  • Focus on precision first before worrying about more weight.

Starting too heavy leads to injury and bad habits. Build a solid foundation first with a manageable weight.

How to Know if Your Kettlebell is the Right Weight

The right kettlebell weight challenges your muscles without being too difficult to control. Here are some signs you've chosen the best weight to start with:

  • Your arm doesn't collapse on the downswing of a kettlebell swing.
  • You can maintain good form without shaking during arm movements like an overhead press.
  • The weight is heavy enough that 10-15 reps of swings or lifts fatigue your muscles.
  • You have a good grip on the handle without it slipping.
  • You feel stable in your stance and balanced as you move through drills.
  • You're able to keep proper alignment and engage your core during exercises.

The weight should feel somewhat hard, not too easy or impossible. You may be sore the next day but shouldn't feel like you're risking serious injury.

Listen to your body and adjust the weight up or down accordingly until you find the right challenge level. Proper form is key.

Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Kettlebell

Some common mistakes to avoid when selecting your starting kettlebell weight:

  • Starting too heavy - this can lead to bad form, strain, and injury.
  • Choosing a weight based on ego rather than fitness level.
  • Not starting light enough - you won't get maximum benefit if it's too easy.
  • Skipping weight progression - increase weight as you build strength for continuous improvement.
  • Not buying multiple weights for variation - buy at least two, 5-10 lbs different.
  • Using poor form to handle a heavy weight - keep perfect technique above all else.
  • Not considering your fitness goals - choose weight that aligns with your goals.
  • Not evaluating your mobility - if shoulders or wrists are tight, start lighter.
  • Trying advanced moves before you're ready - master basics like deadlifts first.

Remember that proper form should always be the priority, not how much weight you can lift. Start conservatively and increase weight slowly over time.

Beginner Kettlebell Workout Routines

Once you’ve chosen the right kettlebell weight, where do you start? Here are some simple beginner kettlebell routines to safely learn movements and build a strength base:

Kettlebell Swing Workout

  • 10-15 minute warm up
  • 10 alternating single arm swings
  • 10 double arm swings
  • 5 Turkish get ups each side
  • 10 goblet squats
  • 10 alternating single arm swings
  • 10 double arm swings

Kettlebell Deadlift + Row

  • 10 minute warmup
  • 10 kettlebell deadlifts
  • 10 single arm kettlebell rows each side
  • 10 double arm kettlebell rows
  • 10 kettlebell deadlifts
  • 10 suitcase carries (30-60 seconds each side)

Beginner Kettlebell Full Body

  • Warm up joints + light cardio 5-10 min
  • 8 kettlebell deadlifts
  • 8 push presses
  • 8 goblet squats
  • 8 reverse lunges each side
  • 8 kettlebell swings
  • 8 single arm rows each side
  • Repeat circuit 2-3 times

Start with 3 rounds and add more as your conditioning improves. Keep rest periods short to elevate heart rate.

Ready to Choose Your Kettlebell and Get Training?

Picking the right kettlebell weight comes down to finding the best balance of challenge, safety, and technique for your current fitness. Consider your experience, mobility, injuries, and goals.

Start on the lighter side, focus on precision, and gradually increase weight over time as your body adapts. Proper form should always be the number one priority.

With the right kettlebell weight, you can take advantage of this versatile tool to build total body strength, power, and resilience with dynamic exercises that burn fat and accelerate results.

Slow and steady progression is key - choose your kettlebell wisely and be patient as you develop skills.

FAQ on Selecting the Best Kettlebell Weight

What Size Kettlebell Should I Use?

The best kettlebell size depends on your fitness level, experience, and goals. Most beginners do well starting with a 12-25 lb kettlebell if you're new to weight training. Go lighter like 8-15 lbs if you have any injuries or are small/less athletic.

You want a weight that provides some challenge but allows you to maintain proper form. Master technique with a manageable weight before moving heavier. Buy at least 2 kettlebells 5-10 lbs different for progression.

What Are The Standard Kettlebell Weights?

Standard kettlebell sizes are:

  • 5 lbs
  • 8 lbs
  • 12 lbs
  • 16 lbs (most common starting weight)
  • 20 lbs
  • 24 lbs
  • 28 lbs
  • 32 lbs

Weights then go up by 4 kg/10 lbs such as 36 lbs, 40 lbs, 44 lbs etc. Heavier competition style kettlebells are measured in pood, which is ~16 kg or 35 lbs.

What Kettlebell Weight Should I Start With For Training?

For beginners new to kettlebell training, the recommended starting weights are:

  • Women - 12-16 lbs
  • Men - 16-20 lbs

If you have weightlifting experience or are athletic, you can start with heavier weights around 20-26 lbs. Focus first on developing proper swing and lift technique before going too heavy.

What's A Good Starting Kettlebell Weight?

A good starting weight for most beginners is 16 lbs (8 kg) for women and 20-26 lbs (10-12 kg) for men. The right beginner kettlebell weight challenges you while allowing good form. Buy at least 2 sizes 5 lbs apart for progression.

Should I Use One Kettlebell Or A Set?

It's recommended to start with at least 2 kettlebell weights, preferably 5-10 lbs difference. Having 2 different kettlebells allows you to progress and vary training. Good starting pairs are often 16 + 20 lbs or 12 + 15 lbs.

How Much Should A Woman Kettlebell Lift?

For women beginners, a 12-16 lb kettlebell is ideal for learning proper technique. Increase weight once you can comfortably perform 15 reps of swings while maintaining good form. Most women advance to 20-26 lb kettlebells within a few months.

What Kettlebell Weight Should A Man Use?

Most men new to kettlebells do well starting with a 16-22 lb kettlebell. If you have good strength already, opt for 22-28+ lbs. Focus first on swing form before rapidly increasing weight. Leave ego at the door and lift an appropriate challenge weight.

When Do You Increase Kettlebell Weight?

Increase kettlebell weight once you can comfortably perform exercises for 3 sets of 10-15 reps with proper form. The last few reps should be challenging but not sloppy. Move up incrementally 5-10 lbs at a time as strength improves.

How Do You Progress With Kettlebells?

To progress with kettlebells:

  • Master form with lighter weights first
  • Gradually increase kettlebell weight in 5-10 lb increments
  • Vary exercises to target different movement patterns
  • Reduce rest periods to increase conditioning
  • Try more complex multi-plane drills
  • Move through full range of motion with control

What’s The Best Kettlebell Size For Beginners?

The best kettlebell size for beginners is usually 16 lbs for women and 20-26 lbs for men depending on fitness level. Buy at least 2 sizes 5-10 lbs apart to allow for progression. Focus first on nailing down proper swing, clean, press, and squat technique before going too heavy.

How Do You Choose The Right Kettlebell Weight?

Factors for choosing the right kettlebell:

  • Fitness level and experience
  • Ability to maintain good form for 10-15 reps
  • Feeling properly challenged but not straining
  • Starting lighter for new lifters
  • Increasing weight in 5-10 lb increments over time
  • Buying at least 2 kettlebells for variation

Focus on precision first before chasing weight goals. Proper form prevents injury.