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The Best Kettlebell Weight For Beginners



Ready to start training with kettlebells but unsure of what weight to start with? You’ve come to the right place! I remember how confusing it was for me when I was starting, that’s why I put this article together for you. I want to make your entry into kettlebells as smooth as possible so you can reap the rewards of kettlebell training for life! When we are discussing free weights like dumbbells and barbells, there is no one size fits all, and kettlebells are no different. Men and women, beginners, intermediates, and advanced lifters will all start at different weights. In addition, the type of movements you are performing, your fitness goals, and your fitness level will heavily dictate where you start. But no

worries, after this article you will know

exactly where you should start to see the best success with kettlebell training!


In this article we will be covering:



Anatomy of the Kettlebell




As shown in the image above, the kettlebell is made up of the handle, horns, corners, window, bell, and base. The bell itself is the round cannon ball shape, and the handle slopes down to the base of the bell, called the horns.


It is this design that makes the kettlebell so unique. When looking at the dumbbell, the handle lies between two bells making it an evenly balanced weight. The kettlebells center of mass lies several inches away from the handle, making it an “offset load”


The kettlebell can be gripped in three places, the handle, the horns, and the bell itself. All these grips serve a different purpose for the lifter. You will notice most of your lifts will be gripped at the handle, however movements like goblet squats are noticeably more comfortable at the base and more challenging at the horns.




Factors to Consider When Choosing a Kettlebell Weight


  1. Your weightlifting experience: This is of course most important when considering the starting weight. Beginners with little to no weightlifting experience should start lighter and take the time to learn proper form. Advanced individuals or those with more weightlifting experience will be able to start a bit heavier.

  2. The Types of Kettlebell Movements You Will Be Doing: Kettlebell training is comprised of two types of movements, Ballistics & Grinds.

  3. Your Fitness Goals: What are you looking to achieve with kettlebells? Having a good idea on whether you are looking to lose weight, get stronger, use it for mobility or improve conditioning will dictate the starting bell weight.

  4. Your age and Current Fitness Level: When choosing a starting kettlebell weight, it is important to consider the age and fitness level because different ages should start at different weights. Fitness level is defined pretty much as the strength an individual possess. But more on these “Strength measurements” later.


The 2 Types of Movements: Ballistics vs Grinds


As stated earlier, kettlebell training can be broken down into two movement categories, ballistics, and grinds. Each movement will have a different recommended starting weight.


Ballistic Movements

Kettlebell ballistics are very similar to the two human ballistic movements, jumping and throwing. During ballistics there are two stages: a stage that is exerting force and a stage that is under gravitational force. Whichever one comes first will be determined whether you are jumping or throwing. Some common Kettlebell Ballistic movements include swings, snatches, and cleans.


Grind Movements

Kettlebell grind movements are performed a lot slower than ballistic movements. If you are looking to build muscle and get stronger, most of your kettlebell training will revolve around grinds. In addition, this is the best place for beginners to start because they are slower, more under control and allow for some high-quality strength gains. But just because they are best for beginners, does not mean an advanced lifter will not spend a lot of time on them. In fact, they are called “grinds” because they take a lot of dedication and consistency to get good at, making them an awesome movement for advanced lifters. Some common grind movements include squats, presses, get ups, deadlifts, and many more!


Weight Recommendation Issues


Before we dive into the weight recommended for both men and women for grind and ballistic movements, I want to discuss potential issues with the recommendations you might have.


Beginner lifters who have never trained before might look at the weights suggested and think “holy shit, that is too heavy”. Conversely, individuals who have been training for some time might look at the weights suggested and think “are you kidding me, I bench 315 bro.” Wherever you are coming to this article at, I understand and I ask that you trust me and throw out any perception you have about weight training because kettlebell training is entirely new and different and needs to be treated as such.


So please be open, listen and learn. I highly suggest when start training with kettlebells that you book a few sessions with a kettlebell trainer. It will make your future of training with the bell a lot safer, smoother, and effective!


Weight Recommendation for Women


I want to make it clear that when I am making these recommendations in the category, it is for females who are at or above the age of 18. When picking the right starting weight in this category we usually see a range from 18lbs to 35lbs depending on the users weightlifting experience, fitness levels and the movements being performed.


Below you will find the recommendations for STARTING weights for women of different experience levels. I highlight “starting” because there might be exceptions in when women start with heavier bells. It is best to advice in a Kettlebell Trainer just to be safe.


*The recommended weights below are for people who have never touched a kettlebell before and are looking to pick up the tool to add to their arsenal. This is not intended for the individual who has been training with kettlebells for quite some time*


Ballistic Movements:

When considering a starting weight for ballistic movements, this weight will be larger in size usually compared to the grind movements.


  • Beginner (zero to very little weightlifting experience)- 18lbs (8kg)

  • Intermediate (has some weightlifting experience- can bench 200lbs+)-26lbs (12kg)-35lbs (16kg)

  • Advanced (has a lot of weightlifting experience and is proficient in foundational movement patterns)35lbs (16kg) – 44lb (20kg)


Grind Movements:

When considering starting weight for grind movements, this weight should be something you can press overhead 8-10 times with good form.

  • Beginner (zero to very little weightlifting experience)- 13lbs(6kg)

  • Intermediate (has some weightlifting experience- can bench 200lbs+)- 18(8kg)-26lbs (12kg) *if under 200lb bench – use 8kg, if over 200lb bench use 12kg*

  • Advanced (has a lot of weightlifting experience and is proficient in foundational movement patterns)35lbs (16kg)


Weight Recommendation for Men


Ballistic Movements:

When considering starting weight for ballistic movements, this weight will be larger in size usually compared to the grind movements.


  • Beginner (zero to very little weightlifting experience)- 35lbs (16kg)

  • Intermediate (has some weightlifting experience- can bench 200lbs+)-44 (20kg)

  • Advanced (has a lot of weightlifting experience and is proficient in foundational movement patterns)53lbs (24kg)- 62lbs (28kg)


Grind Movements:

When considering starting weight for grind movements, this weight should be something you can press overhead 8-10 times with good form.


  • Beginner (zero to very little weightlifting experience)- 26lbs (12kg)

  • Intermediate (has some weightlifting experience- can bench 200lbs+)- 35lbs(16kg) – 44lbs (20) *Depending on the amount of slow lifts and strength they already possess*

  • Advanced (has a lot of weightlifting experience and is proficient in foundational movement patterns)53lbs (24kg)


How Do You Know When You Are Ready to Progress in Weight?


Unlike other pieces of traditional strength training, you will notice the weight sizes in kettlebells make decent size jumps. Because of this, it is not as easy to jump from a 24kg to a 28kg without running the risk of sloppy form, insufficient strength, and injury. So how do you know when the right time to move up is?

A general rule of thumb is you should be able to do upwards of 20 repetitions of every movement in every workout with the current bell size. This is usually a good sign that you have mastered that bell and can safely make the leap to the next size!


The Best Kettlebell Moves a Beginner Should Start With


When considering movements that a beginner should learn when it comes to kettlebell training, there are a lot of similarities between the barbell/dumbbell and the kettlebell. Reason being, we always break down strength training by the foundational movement patterns of squat, hinge, push, pull, lunge, carry. However due to the unique anatomy of the kettlebell these basic foundational patterns are performed with a slight twist!


In addition, there are a handful of exercises that are unique to the kettlebell alone, but that is a topic for another time. It is my recommendation that as a beginner to kettlebell training you take the time to learn and master the movements below.



1. Goblet Squat (by the horns)

  • Holding the kettlebell by the horns, pull your shoulders back and think “proud chest”, your elbows should also be tucked at your side.

  • Feet should be slightly wider than hip width.

  • Take a big breath into your belly and brace your core like someone is going to punch you in the gut.

  • Screw your feet into the floor like you are trying to rip the floor apart with them.

  • Lower yourself into a squat, keeping your torso upright.

  • Go to parallel or slightly below.

  • Stand up driving through your heels.

  • Squeeze your ass hard at the top!

  • Repeat for prescribed reps.





2. Kettlebell Deadlift

  • Place the kettlebell on the floor in between your feet. Feet should be hip width.

  • Bending your knees slightly, push you ass back to the wall behind you until you hands touch the bell. Arms should be completely straight (locked out)

  • Allow your back to remain in its natural arch, with your chest proud, place your vision a 20 feet in front of you, chin should be tucked like you are trying to pin a baseball to your chest.

  • Take a big breath into your belly and brace your core like someone is going to punch you in the gut.

  • Maintaining this position, drive through your heels and stand straight up.

  • Lock your hips out, squeeze your butt and core hard at the top.

  • Reverse the motion and return back to the starting position.

  • Repeat for prescribed reps





3. One Arm Overhead Press

  • Placing the bell in the front rack position

  • Take a deep breath into your stomach as if someone was going to punch you, squeeze your glutes and core.

  • Root your feet into the floor as if someone was going to push you

  • Think about pulling your rib cage down so it does not flair, think about creating a “long spine” or standing up straight.

  • Press the weight overhead remaining in the position. Chin Should remain tucked during the press.

  • At the top squeeze your butt and core, lock your elbow out slightly.

  • When lowering the kettlebell, don’t just let it fall, think about “pulling” it back to the front rack, kind of like you are doing a pull up.

  • Repeat for prescribed reps





4. Single Arm Kettlebell Bent Over Row

  • Standing with your feet hip width and the kettlebell in between your feet, slightly bend your knees and push your butt back (just like the deadlift)

  • Grab the kettlebell with 1 hand and with the non-working hand create a fist like you are going to punch someone

  • Taking a deep belly breath, bracing the core.

  • Row the kettlebell, drawing your elbow to your hip pocket

  • Slowly control it down to the starting position allowing your elbow to fully extend

  • Repeat for prescribed reps





5. Kettlebell Chest Loaded Swing


It is no secret that the kettlebell exercise is the most well known and most practiced kettlebell movement out there. However, it is often butchered most of the time.

When we are considering the best swing variation for pure beginners, you cannot go wrong with the “chest loaded” swing.

It teaches hip hinge, proper poster, bracing, and just all-around quality movement that will carry over nicely to the kettlebell swing.


  • Start by standing hip with apart

  • Grab the kettlebell by the horns and take the bottom of the bell and place it right below your sternum

  • Once in this position, pull your shoulders back and down and think “proud chest”

  • Fix your eyes about 20 feet in front of you

  • Take a deep breath , bracing the core like someone Is going to punch you

  • Push your ass to the wall behind you , keep you spine long.

  • Once you feel a stretch in your hamstrings (back of the thigh), extend your hips (stand back up) and squeeze your butt hard.

  • Repeat for prescribed reps






6. Shoe Turkish Get Up


Just Like with the kettlebell swing and many other exercises in the gym, people tend to jump into deep water too soon. They see it on Instagram and believe they can do it, so they try It and get hurt. This is what we want to avoid.

So, instead of beginners jumping right into loaded Turkish get ups, I like to teach the shoe Turkish get up.


This shoe Turkish get up allows the user to learn how to “move under the kettlebell” instead of pushing the weight. Not only is this a great way to dial in your form but it also teaches you to perform the movement SLOW and benefit form more TUT ( time under tension).

  • Lie on your back in a starfish position with your legs straight out at a 45-degree angle and arms out at a 45-degree angle.

  • Bend your right leg and place your right foot flat on the floor a few inches from your butt and outside your hip. Bring your right arm straight up toward the ceiling, making a fist with your right hand and keeping your knuckles pointing straight toward the ceiling. Don’t let your wrist bend backward. Make a fist and keep the knuckles pointed to the ceiling

  • Next, push through your right heel and your left elbow to prop yourself up onto your left elbow. In this position, your left shoulder should be packed. To pack your shoulder, start by slouching your shoulder rounding it forward, and then reverse the motion by pushing your arm through the floor so that your shoulder is packed down and away from your ears. Your chest should be facing the wall in front of you, not facing the ceiling.

  • From here, place your left palm on the floor, pushing into the floor and using your abs to pull your body into a seated position. Keep that left shoulder packed the entire time. Think about screwing your palm into the floor so your elbow pit turns out away from you, and your fingertips are turned slightly back behind you.

  • Next slide your left leg underneath you and toward your butt, placing your left knee and left ankle in a straight line with your left hand. Your left knee should be stacked directly underneath your left hip and the distance between your knee and your hand should be about the same length as your torso. If you need to adjust, adjust your knee and not your hand.

  • From here, shift your weight back toward your left heel. Come to an open half-kneeling position (in this position, your “up” knee should be at a 90-degree angle and pointing directly in front of you and your "down" knee should also be at a 90-degree angle but this knee is pointing to your left). Now, shift your legs into a half-kneeling (or a lunge) position by sweeping your left leg (down knee) behind you to the left, so that this knee is now pointing directly in front of you. You should now be looking straight ahead.

  • From here, think of getting nice and strong, engaging your core, and pushing your back foot into the floor to bring your feet together to a standing position. Congrats! You’re halfway there.

  • To get back down, you are now going to perform all the steps in reverse. Going down is just as important as going up, so be sure not to rush this part or let yourself relax. You should still balancing your shoe with a straight arm over your head. Start by taking a big step back with your left leg into a reverse lunge. Then, reverse the sweeping motion of the left leg (down knee) to return to the open half-kneeling position.

  • Once in the open half-kneeling position, sit your hips back toward your heel while reaching your left hand down and placing it on the floor in front of your left knee. The distance between your hand and your knee again should be about the length of your torso. At this point, switch your gaze back up to the fist or shoe until you finish the movement.

  • Shift your weight back into your left hand. Sweep your left leg out from under you and sit down with your leg extended. You should end up in the same position here as when you were rolling up onto your hand. Your palm should be screwed into the floor, elbow pit rotated away from you, and shoulder packed and away from your ears.

  • From here, push your palm into the floor and let your elbow bend in toward you. Make sure as you touch down to your elbow you keep that shoulder packed. Slowly push your left arm into the floor and allow yourself to gently come back to the floor.

  • Repeat for prescribed reps




7. Kettlebell Halo


Why take 3 steps when you can take 1? Kettlebell halos are incredible at improving core stability and shoulder mobility and stability, making this a massive bang for your buck exercise.


  • Standing with feet hip or shoulder width, hold the kettlebell by the horns upside down.

  • The bell should be facing up.

  • Screw your feet into the ground, brace the core and think “rib cage down”

  • With your shoulders pulled back and your chest proud, begin moving the bell around your head, be careful to maintain good posture and not bend at the torso in ANY direction.

  • Move slowly, make full circles around your head

  • Alternate directions

  • Repeat for prescribed reps






Three Common Ways to Use a Kettlebell


Just like there are many ways to use a barbell and dumbbells, there are many different purposes that the kettlebell can serve. Depending on your fitness goals, kettlebells can really shine in 3 areas in your training routine.


1. Warm-up/ Pre-activation


By now we all know the importance of a proper warm up and activation series. Activation series meaning, the work we do after the dynamic warm up that wakes up our central nervous system, improves core temperature, enhances movement quality, and quite literally gets us ready to rock n roll!


Kettlebells are a phenomenal tool for this. Whether you are a washed-up meat head, busy professional or a young adult looking to improve strength, conditioning or performance, kettlebells can be an effective tool used in your warmups.


Kettlebells shine specifically in three areas:

  1. Enhance mobility, which allow you to get into better positions on your barbell compound lifts like squats, presses, and deadlifts.

  2. Ballistic movements like swings and snatches excite your central nervous system. Communication between your body and brain become clearer and allow your body to do more of what you are asking of it.

  3. Grease the groove, kettlebells allow you to practice movements like goblet squats or front rack squats prior to putting a barbell on your back. This helps grease the squat pattern, activate the core musculature and the posterior chain musculature, and prepare your body to handle heavier loads.


2. Full Body Strength & Conditioning Workout


Anytime, anywhere you can take this 1 piece of equipment and get a great full body training session in. Kettlebells really are an all-in-one conditioning tool.


One of my favorite ways to use kettlebells for a fat blasting, muscle building training session is complexes! There are very few modalities that are as effective as complexes when it comes to single kettlebell workouts or when you are in a pinch for time.

Throw together a complex following the foundational movement patterns or pick from 1 of the many free kettlebell workouts below!




3. Quick and Effective Circuits


This one is a fan favorite from all of my busy professional online training clients. I have spoken about this in the past, but kettlebells are a great tool for the busy professional who just doesn’t have the time to spend hours at the gym anymore.


With strength and conditioning all wrapped into 1 tool, it makes it the perfect piece of equipment for all my busy professionals out there.


One of our favorite ways to organize these sessions is by performing EMOMs or every minute on the minute workouts.


You pick two movements, for example: Kettlebell Swings and Push-ups.

Set a clock to beep every minute on the minute for 20 minutes.

Inside the same minute perform 10 Swings and 10 Push Ups – resting the remainder of that minute.


In 20 minutes, you would have done 200 swings and 200 pushups!!

Talk about a TON of work in very little time. Plus, we will be working on strength and conditioning at the same time. You can kiss the long treadmill runs goodbye.



Kettlebell Workouts on Me



Kettlebell Workout #1 Strong & Functional


COMPLETE 3-4 ROUNDS

1a) Kettlebell Swing x 10

1b) Bodyweight Bear Crawl x 30 seconds


2a) Kettlebell Goblet Squat 3x8

2b) Kettlebell Single Arm Row 3x8/8

2c) Hollow Body Hold 3x20 seconds


3a) Turkish Get Ups 3x3/3

3b) Kettlebell Deadlifts 3x8


4. Kettlebell Cleans 6 down to 1 as fast as possible

  • Perform 6 kettlebell cleans on right arm, then 6 kettlebell cleans on left arm, then 5 and 5, 4 and 4…. All the way down to 1.

  • *Rest as little as possible*



Kettlebell Workout #2Density Training


Block A: Complete 3 rounds

  • 60 second jump rope

  • 30 second hollow holds

  • 10 kettlebell deadlifts


Block B: 15 minutes – complete as many rounds as possible

  • Single Arm Presses x5/5

  • Goblet Squats x8

  • Kettlebell Swings x8

  • Bent Over Single Arm Row x5/5

  • *Rest as little as possible*


Block C: Complete 3 rounds

  • Bodyweight Walking Lunges x 2 minutes

  • Suitcase Carry x35 seconds/ side

  • High Plank Hold x 30 seconds

  • *Rest 30 seconds between changing exercises, and 45 -60 sec between rounds*



Kettlebell Workout #3 - Fat Melting Strength Building Complex


Complete one rep each of the following:

  • One-arm kettlebell swing

  • Clean

  • Squat thrust

That’s one round. Complete 5 rounds on the right side, switch, and repeat.


*Complete as many quality rounds as possible in 15 minutes, resting as little as you have to but as long as you need*



Kettlebell Workout #4Quick and Effective


EMOM x 10 minutes (every minute on the minute)

  • 10 x kettlebell swings

  • 10 x push-ups

*Complete the 2 movements in the SAME minute*

*Rest the remainder of the minute. If you are advanced up the time to 20 minutes*



Kettlebell Workout #5 – Strong Like Bull


COMPLETE 3-4 ROUNDS:

1a) Kettlebell Deadlift x5-8

1b) Kettlebell Single Arm row x 5-8

1c) Kettlebell Single Arm Swing x 5-8 / side


2a) TRX Row or Inverted Row x8, x 10 , x12

2b) Two Handed Kettlebell Swing x 12 , x 15, x 18

2c) Hollow Holds x 30 sec, x35 sec, x 40 secs


3. Kettlebell Reverse Lunges in Front Rack 3x10/10


4. Perform 15 seconds on / 15 seconds off of the following movements. Complete 4-6 rounds of the whole circuit.

  • Single arm swings (right side)

  • Single arm swings (left side)

  • Kettlebell Goblet Squats

  • Ball slams or up downs (burpee no push up)




Closing Thoughts on Kettlebells


Kettlebells are one of the single greatest tools to add into your training arsenal. Whether you are looking to build muscle, lose fat or are pinched for time on workouts, kettlebells can help you accomplish your goals.


I am confident in saying, if you follow this guide and the recommendations above you will be swinging your way to a stronger, leaner, and better conditioned body in no time!



SWING ON.

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Dominick Matrisciano is a Kettlebell Certified Strength Coach and the owner of Matrisciano Fitness. Check out his

Instagram and other articles for more educational content.



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