Whether you’re a total beginner or a seasoned lifter, choosing a kettlebell weight can be tricky. After all, it’s a totally different specimen from a dumbbell or squat rack. You also use it in unique movements that you could never perform with other types of weights.
So what weight should you start with with a kettlebell? Should you go heavier or lighter?
These are extremely common questions I get often, so I overview the answer below, as well as the reasoning behind kettlebell weights.
What is the Best Kettlebell Weight to Start With?
The first thing to consider when you’re choosing a kettlebell weight is that it’s most likely going to be heavier than you’d expect. This is because most kettlebell exercises, when performed correctly, will be engaging multiple major muscle groups at once.
Consider a kettlebell swing versus a dumbbell curl. A dumbbell curl isolates the bicep muscle, with all of the weight being put solely on that muscle. When performing a kettlebell swing, no muscles are isolated – you’ll be using your glutes, legs, and hips to thrust the bell up into the air, your core to stabilize you, and some of your shoulder muscles to pull the bell up and stop it at the peak of the swing.
Since the dumbbell is isolated, you can start with a lighter weight and still feel a challenge. With multiple major muscle groups being used, you’ll need a heavier weight to create a challenge. This is also what makes kettlebell training so effective; you’re able to use more weight while engaging large and small muscle groups, including the stabilizer groups that help improve your balance, all at once.
It’s also beneficial to avoid using a weight that’s too light, since it won’t encourage building good form. You’ll simply be swinging a lightweight.
Ideal Kettlebell Starting Weights
• Women, a 15-18lb kettlebell is a good starting weight. Don’t worry if you try to curl it and feel it’s too heavy – once you start moving into swings and cleans, you’ll notice the weight may actually seem light depending on your level of fitness.
• Men, starting with a 35lb weight works well. On the flipside for men, this may feel pretty light compared to the weight you use to bench/squat etc… However, a kettlebell is going to hit muscles you probably haven’t used before, and tossing around too heavy of a weight can also make you form suffer.
A good strategy when shopping for a bell is (if you can) try out the weight by moving through a few of these exercises and flows to “feel” the resistance. At the bare minimum, do a few swings and see how the weight feels.
Set on a bell on becoming a Kettlebell Master?
Once you have a bell, work on perfecting your form with these exercises before moving into full flows and workouts. You can either follow these as a full flow, or mix and match exercises to create your own.
If you are ready to jump into a program, my 8-Week Single Kettlebell Course gets right to the action.
And for those of you ready to take your kettlebell mastery to the next level and flow like me should check out my primal kettlebell course. Filled with in-depth movement breakdowns like this one and topped off with a 4-week Kettlebell Program to test your new knowledge and skill.
Let’s get it!