A Beginner’s Guide to Buying Your First Kettlebell

If you’ve walked into any gym in the past few years, you’ve probably seen at least a few people using kettlebells. Thanks to the soaring popularity of Crossfit, and a cameo on the Biggest Loser, Kettlebell’s seem to be all the rage these days - for good reason. They’re incredibly effective and are useful for a variety of fitness goals - i.e. losing weight, building strength, or just toning your body. But how are you supposed to choose a kettlebell when there are so many different shapes, sizes, makes, and models?! Well, the two most important factors to consider are style and size.

Competition Kettlebells vs. Standard Kettlebells

There are two main styles when it comes to kettlebells; professional grade steel kettlebells which are most often referred to as competition kettlebell’s, and cast iron kettlebells, or standard kettlebells.

Competition Kettlebells are made of hollow steel, and are all the same size, regardless of the weight. Because of their steel finish, they roll better in your hands making them a better option for heavy weight lifts such as the single arm snatch. Standard kettlebells are made from solid cast iron, so their size is directly correlated with their weight. The handles of standard kettlebells are often thicker, making it easier to grip for two handed exercises such as swings, renegade rows, and kettlebell pushups.

Weight Selection

In a perfect world, we'd have access to multiple kettlebells at all times, but when budget doesn't alot for this, you can follow these guidelines for purchasing your first one.

Women who are new to weight training are advised to start out with 8kg (18 lb) kettlebells. For the majority of kettlebell exercises, you won't be using just one arm, or just one leg - you'll be using a combination of muscles. 8kg is a great starting weight because it's not too heavy that you can't complete a swing using your thighs, legs, core and arms, and it's not too light for a turkish getup. Once you master that first 8kg kettlebell, you can advance up to the next class up which would be the 12kg (26.5) kettlebell. If you're a woman of above average fitness, then a 12kg kettlebell is probably the perfect starting point.
Men who are just beginning a workout routine should aim for a 16kg (36lb) kettlebell. While men build strength at a slightly higher rate, it does take them longer to nail down the form and perfect the movement. By starting at a moderate weight, men can truly master the swing, and are only then advised to move up to a 20 - 24kg kettlebell.

While choosing your first kettlebell may make you want to toss the entire idea out the window, I promise that once you do find the perfect fit, you'll understand exactly why you started. Kettlebell exercise will reap endless benefits on your physical fitness and change the way you look at working out. Not only is it one of the most effective exercises out there - but how else can you workout in such short time with such little equipment, anywhere?!

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