If you've ever thought, 'what size kettlebell should I get?' then you've come to the right article. Kettlebells are hand weights that enable you to build strength, balance, and flexibility. They're also convenient to use, which is why gymgoers choose them.
In this guide, we'll cover kettlebell sizes and help you pick out what size kettlebell to start with.
Table of Contents
- Considerations When Choosing The Right Kettlebell Size
- How Are Kettlebells Traditionally Classified?
- What Kettlebell Size Should I Get? (Complete Guide)
- The Right Kettlebell Weight For Various Types Of Exercises
- Popular Kettlebell Brands & Their Sizes
- Kettlebell Sizing FAQs
Considerations When Choosing The Right Kettlebell Size
The Type of Kettlebell Exercises (Ballistic Vs Grind)
You can perform a range of exercises using a kettlebell because there are plenty of kettlebell weight sizes, and you can move the kettlebell in multiple directions.
There are two types of exercises you can do with a kettlebell. These are ballistic exercises and grind exercises.
Ballistic exercises relate to exerting your energy and leveraging gravity to work your muscles. Their focus is generating power and absorbing power. Examples include kettlebell swings, snatches, cleans, and jerks. Grinding exercises are slower and more deliberate than ballistic exercises and focus on building strength. Examples include deadlifts, presses, and squats.
Jump over to our complete guide on all the benefits of kettlebell swings to learn more!
The best size kettlebell to start with depends on how much experience you have with weightlifting and how much weight you're comfortable lifting. A kettlebell sizes chart will help you compare your experience with available options.
If you're a beginner, you should start with lighter kettlebells to learn the appropriate form and figure out how to get the most out of the exercises. If you've got some experience, you can pick a range of traditional kettlebell sizes. Finally, if you have a lot of experience, you can go for the heaviest kettlebells.
Your starting kettlebell size and any additional kettlebell sizes to buy for your workout will also depend on your goals. Some common ones are reducing weight, increasing strength, building power, increasing stability and mobility, and growing muscles. You may even combine these into one workout.
It's essential to stick to one chosen workout routine until you get results. For example, if you want to improve your leg muscles, you can search for 'what size kettlebell should I get for squats?'.
Age & Current Fitness Level
Your circumstances will also affect the standard kettlebell sizes that are right for you, so a good size kettlebell to start with for somebody else may not be suitable for you.
If you're less fit than many people your age, then you'll want to gradually ease into your workouts and look at the best kettlebell weight size for beginners.
Young people and seniors should both have some training to use kettlebells safely if you have any issues with particular muscles or joints that may affect your ability to complete specific ballistic or grinding exercises.
An often overlooked consideration is the kettlebell handle size. Some kettlebells have thicker handles, and others have thinner handles. Some kettlebell handles are larger or smaller depending on the kettlebell size, whereas others have a standard size. Typical sizes range from 30-38mm, and you should have no problems finding a handle diameter that works for you, especially as an 8mm difference is minimal.
Competition kettlebell handle size is usually restricted to 33mm, so if that size works for you and you have access to competition kettlebells, you'll be good to go.
The ideal kettlebell size for men doing ballistic exercises is 16 or 20kg. For men with more experience, 24kg is more appropriate This is about 53 lbs. For grinding exercises, male beginners can start with an 8 or 12kg kettlebell, and those with some experience can start at 20kg.
The ideal kettlebell size for women doing ballistic exercises is 8 or 12kg, rising to 16kg (35 lbs) for those with higher fitness levels. Female beginners can start with a 6 or 8kg kettlebell for grinding exercises, increasing to 12kg with some experience.
How Are Kettlebells Traditionally Classified?
When considering what size kettlebell to get, it's worth knowing the sizes available and how they're classified. This is where knowledge of kettlebell Pood sizes comes in, and we'll explain that shortly.
A typical kettlebell size guide will tell you about the following sizes:
They're classified like this because traditional kettlebell sizes are graded incrementally, meaning they increase in chunks of weight. That's so people can push beyond their comfort zone when they're ready and get used to the new weight before moving up to a higher level.
Another method of classifying kettlebell sizes is by Pood. This typically applies to Russian kettlebells because ancient Russia is where kettlebells come from.
An 8kg kettlebell is also known as a .5 Pood kettlebell. A 16kg kettlebell is 1 Pood, and a 24kg is 2 Pood. You'll often see them in pounds or kilograms, but occasionally they're listed by Pood. If you need to convert between pounds, kilograms, and Poods, you can use Google to convert the numbers before selecting your kettlebells.
You'll also notice that some kettlebells are produced in between sizes, like the .5 Pood or the 1.5 Pood. More common variations are the 20kg and the 28kg kettlebells, which are 1.22 Pood and 1.7 Pood, respectively. These are manufactured to help gymgoers and fitness enthusiasts bridge the gap between traditional kettlebell sizes like 16kg and 24kg.
What Kettlebell Size Should I Get? (Complete Guide)
1. Kettlebell Size For Beginners
What size kettlebell should a beginner start with is a common question, and the simplest answer is to start with the lightest kettlebells available. As a beginner, it's easy to overdo it, given the range of grinding and ballistic exercises available to you. However, you might find that the lightest kettlebells don't give you a good enough workout, and that's when you can move up a heavier one.
If you don't need to start with the lightest kettlebells, then an alternative is to pick a moderately heavy one like the 12kg (26 lbs) kettlebell and see how you get on during your workout. If you struggle to get through your usual number of reps and sets, you can decide if you should keep pushing or start at a lower weight. You could also be better at some exercises than others, so it's worth keeping this in mind too.
2. Kettlebell Size For Men
The kettlebell size to start with for men will depend on how fit you are to begin with, which type of kettlebell exercises you're going to do, and your workout goals. For example, the best size kettlebell for squats will differ from the best size kettlebell for weight loss. However, it's very common to start with heavier weights than women.
Typically, you'll want to start at 16kg and then work your way up, although you can opt for 20kg instead if you're feeling confident. If you're less fit, you can start with a lighter kettlebell, as is the case for beginners. If you're already experienced with lifting kettlebells, you can choose a heavier kettlebell.
Ultimately, what size kettlebell should a man use depends on all the factors we've covered here, so the sizes we've given are only guidelines and should be tested in the gym or under supervision.
3. Kettlebell Size For Women
The best kettlebell size for women is based on similar considerations to the options we presented for men. Your fitness levels, workout goals, and prior experience with using kettlebells will all factor into the ideal kettlebell size for you.
However, just as men will typically lift heavier weights, women will typically lift lighter weights. Of course, there are exceptions for both men and women, but it is still the rule. In terms of specific numbers, women should aim to start at 8kg (17.6 lbs) and increase the weight over time. However, if you're confident in the gym or have some experience, you can opt for a 16kg kettlebell to challenge yourself.
As mentioned in the section for men, the decision depends on various factors. These are only guidelines, and the best choice to find out what's best for you is to head to the gym.
4. Kettlebell Size For Kids
Unlike choosing a kettlebell as an adult, choosing one as a child or on behalf of one requires more thought. Often, the best size kettlebell to get for a child depends on the age bracket they fall into. That's because children grow fast and their bodies change rapidly.
For general guidance, children aged 5-8 should lift 2-3kg kettlebells, children aged 9-11 should lift 2-7kg kettlebells, and children aged 12-16 should lift 4.5-9kg kettlebells. If your child or children you take care of are very physically active, they might benefit from heavier kettlebells, but only under supervision.
Younger children are unlikely to have specific workout plans or attend the gym, so you may need to buy some kettlebells for use at home or speak to their school and see if any are available as part of a weightlifting club.
5. Kettlebell Size For Seniors
Seniors can benefit significantly from kettlebells because of their benefits for stability and mobility and their ability to maintain muscle mass. However, it's easier to injure yourself as you age, so choosing what size kettlebell to use is an important decision.
If you're used to lifting heavier weights and have worked out for many years, you can start at a higher level with kettlebells. But even then, you might need to adjust the weight downwards depending on how you feel after your workout.
You should also consider focusing on slightly less strenuous exercises like those in the ballistic category. An 8kg kettlebell is the best starting point if you're a male senior. If you're a female senior, it's 6kg. Of course, this may vary from person to person, so it's always best to test.
The Right Kettlebell Weight For Various Types Of Exercises
Kettlebell Size For Squats
Squats are a compound exercise, meaning they involve lots of muscles in the body and are very effective for building strength and power across various muscle groups.
However, you can also use kettlebells with them. The best kettlebell size for women doing squats is 12kg, and the best kettlebell for men is 18kg. If you're more experienced with squats and can do barbell squats to a high level, you can use heavier kettlebells.
Kettlebell Size For Crossfit
Crossfit workouts feature a range of high-intensity exercises like sprinting, weightlifting, and gymnastics. They date back to the 1990s and also involve kettlebells. Their objective is to increase balance, speed, and endurance.
Kettlebells are typically used for ballistic exercises within CrossFit, and the movements rely more on the arms and shoulders. Generally, kettlebell sizes for Crossfit range from 16-32kg, although this may vary depending on who the workout is tailored towards.
Kettlebell Size For Turkish Get Up
Performing the Turkish Get-Up is a great way to add to your overall fitness, featuring 7 movements that transition you from lying on your side to standing up. All the movements include a kettlebell.
If you're wondering what size kettlebell for Turkish Get-Up you should use, then the ideal size is 4-6kg if you've never done the movements before. That way, you can get a feel for it and then increase the weight as you see fit.
Kettlebell Size For Weight Loss
Using a kettlebell for weight loss can help speed up your progress, but only if you're using the correct sizes so that you burn fat properly. The weight of your kettlebell will depend on many factors, but the general rule is that the heavier it is, the more calories you'll use.
So to consider what size kettlebell for weight loss is most suitable, you'll need to consider your age, weight, workout experience, form, metabolism, and exercises performed.
Kettlebell Size For Swings
Swings are one of the most common ballistic exercises involving kettlebells, so it's vital that you do them often and correctly. Kettlebell swings are also credited by many for enhancing back health. If you're performing a one-handed kettlebell swing, then the best size kettlebell to buy at the start is 12kg for women and 16kg for men. For double-handed swings, the weights should be 14kg for women and 24kg for men.
You can learn all about what muscles kettlebell swings work in our detailed guide!
Popular Kettlebell Brands & Their Sizes
Onnit Kettlebell Sizes
The most reliable indicator of the kettlebell sizes in kg that Onnit has available is what's included in their Complete Kettlebell Package. It features 4kg-32kg kettlebells, in increments of 4kg each. That means a total of 8 kettlebells cover this weight range. This is a decent range that should cover most people who wish to incorporate kettlebells into their workouts.
Rogue Kettlebell Sizes
Rogue kettlebell sizes cover a vast range compared to what you'll find with Onnit. They range from 4kg-92kg (8.8lbs-202lbs). Increments between the sizes vary across the range. At the lower end, increments tend to be 4-8kg, and at the higher end, increments tend to be 8-12kg. That can be a little confusing, but it does give you more options if you've got a lot of experience with kettlebell workouts.
Kettlebell Sizing FAQs
Do you need 1 or 2 kettlebells?
Kettlebell exercises are divided into ballistic and grinding. Many ballistic exercises will only require one kettlebell, as you're typically working one side of your body at a time. However, with grinding exercises, you can use two kettlebells to increase the power of the workout and build extra strength.
Is a 4kg kettlebell too light for home gyms?
The lightest kettlebell you'll typically find is a 4kg one, so you might be wondering if it's going to come in useful for your home gym. It will only be helpful if you're not accustomed to lifting weights. If you are, you'll probably find it too light. It's best to start with 8kg and upwards.
Are kettlebells bad for you?
There are a few risks when it comes to using kettlebells. You can drop them, lift those too heavy for your fitness level, and lift them with poor form, leading to muscle strains and tears. But there are no specific risks to using them that good training and self-awareness can't solve.
Is a 16kg kettlebell enough for a good workout?
It depends on how fit you are when you begin using them, but a 16kg kettlebell will be sufficient most of the time unless you're already very fit. It may even be too heavy if you're a beginner. Intermediate lifters may struggle if the kettlebell is being used for complex exercises.
What is the Mike Mahler kettlebell for size and strength?
The Mike Mahler kettlebell for size and strength workout is a program developed by Mike, a nutritional supplement designer, and hormone optimization enthusiast. It features a hardcore kettlebell routine covering 12 weeks of strength and muscle building. Exercises include the double front squat and double bent-over row.
From reading this guide, you should now know the ideal kettlebell sizes for beginners, how to choose kettlebell size options for yourself, and the benefits you can get from using them. Now that you have this information, all that remains is for you to go and test it out in the gym by getting one of the best kettlebells on the market from our detailed guide!
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