Updated: Jan 18, 2019
first published September 2015
Whether you're new to working with kettlebells, or you'd like to add a kettlebell to your home gym, this article will help you decide the best bell for you!
First of all...what is a kettlebell?
Kettlebell (KB): A weight that looks like a cannonball with a handle, usually denoted in kilograms. We can thank the Russian military for this little gem. The kettlebell is an incredibly versatile tool to have in your arsenal. With just one bell, you can swing, deadlift, squat, row, press, and so much more. You can create a workout focused on strength, fat loss or power. Or all three. It's basically an entire full-body gym contained inside an iron-clad portable suitcase.
Because it is the single most versatile tool for a total body workout, I recommend purchasing a mid-sized bell for your own home. The options are endless as to what you can do with this thing, plus it makes a great doorstop.
Purchasing Your Own Bell
Selecting a kettlebell can vary depending on a person’s size, strength level and experience. However, if you are interested in purchasing your first kettlebell for your own home, my advice is to go for a mid-sized bell that is light enough for one arm work, but heavy enough for high volume of swings and squats.
My suggestions are as follows (1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds):
Ladies Kettlebell Size
Beginner 12kg - 14kg
Intermediate 14kg - 16kg
Advanced 16kg - 20kg
For most women with KB experience, I recommend starting with a 16kg. It’s a solid choice for a mid-sized bell. It might feel a little light for two-handed swings, but it should be a decent amount of challenge for one-arm work. I worked with a 16kg in my tiny NYC apt for two years and was always able to get a great full body workout.
Gentlemen Kettlebell Size
Beginner 14kg - 16kg
Intermediate 18kg - 20kg
Advanced 22kg - 24kg
For most men with KB experience, a 20kg would be a good starter bell.
When I teach the two handed kettlebell swing, I tell my clients that learning to swing with a bell that is too light is like learning to pitch with a wiffle ball.
You can load up the arm all you want, wind and throw as hard as you can, only to see the wiffle ball whither to the ground and die 2 feet in front of you. Obviously, this doesn't help instruct the mechanics of the pitch very well.
However, if you were to throw a baseball, imagine the weight of the ball in your hand. You would learn much more about the force needed to throw the ball because you are receiving more feedback from the heavier baseball.
Learning to swing is no different. Oftentimes we end up doing far more work than we need to if we are learning to swing with a bell that is too light. Loading up a swing with an moderately-sized bell can teach us more about the mechanics of the swing. So don't be shy with your selection!
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It is an online monthly training program that delivers four unique strength-based workouts to your inbox, and it has helped over 300 people of all levels gain confidence and strength in the gym! Learn more here!