what size kettlebell should i get

What Size Kettlebell Should I Buy? (The Complete Guide)

February 13, 2020 1 Comment

Just like dumbbells, barbells, steel maces, and other weightlifting equipment, there’s no one-size-fits-all with Kettlebells. Different kettlebell sizes will be best for certain genders, ages, exercises, and overall fitness goals. So, in this guide, we are going to cover all the most common questions about buying kettlebells and the best kettlebell weight sizes to use based on demographics and all the various aspects of kettlebell training. 

We will be answering these questions and more:

  • What size Kettlebell should I start with?
  • What size Kettlebells for Men and Women?
  • What size Kettlebell for Seniors?
  • What is the best weight for Kettlebell Swings, Squats, Goblet Squats, Turkish Gets, Flows?
  • What is the best Kettlebell size for building muscle, gaining strength, burning fat?

...and so on.

It's all organized by sections, so if you want to scroll down to your specific question, it will be easy to find. 

Before we go into choosing the best kettlebell weight for you, let’s have a closer look at the kettlebell itself.

kettlebell weight

History of the Kettlebell

Kettlebell is the English word for Russian girya - an 18th-century cannonball-like metal (made of cast iron or steel) used to weigh crops, with a Russian unit of measurement called "Pood". 

A Pood is a Russian unit of measurement for weight and it’s the traditional unit of measurement for Kettlebells. According to the Russian pood standard, 1pood is equal to 35LBS of weight (1pood = 16kg = 35LBS) and it is from this equivalence that other kilogram values are gotten for Kettlebells.

Before the end of the 19th century, Russian girya had found its way into the sphere of competitive weightlifting sports in Russia and some parts of Europe while the term, "Kettlebell," was widely adopted at the dawn of the 20th century in the Western world. Nowadays, the name Kettlebell is, of course, used ubiquitously around the world when referring to kettlebell sports and competition.

Anatomy of a Kettlebell

what to know when buying kettlebells

Unlike the simple structures of Dumbbells and Barbells, Kettlebells have complex, equally-important parts, each of which contributes to its uniqueness. The anatomy of a Kettlebell, as seen from the above picture, includes the Handle, Corner, Horn, Window, Bell, and Base.

The Bell is the center of mass of a Kettlebell while the Window is the space that separates the Handle from the Bell, affording the user convenient and flexible movements that are lacking in Dumbbells and Barbells. As part of that flexibility, a Kettlebell can be held at any of its parts, depending on the type of Kettlebell exercise you’re doing.

Perhaps, the most special aspect of the kettlebell's design is that it is unbalanced. It makes the Kettlebell a fantastic free-movement weightlifting tool for learning how to perfect your balance, grip, and more (18 incredible benefits of kettlebells). 

best kettlebell sizes

Factors To Consider When Choosing A Kettlebell and The Best Size

1. Your weightlifting experience: You have to consider if you have had any weightlifting training before. If you are new to weight training, it's best to start at a beginner level so you can learn proper mechanics. If you are experienced in traditional weightlifting, you will likely be able to start at a heavier weight than those who are new to both weightlifting and kettlebell training.

2. Your reason for taking-up Kettlebell training: The reason you’re training with kettlebells will also help you in making a good choice when it comes to buying a Kettlebell. Is it for weight loss, more strength, flexibility or cardiovascular strength?

3. Your age and fitness: Age and fitness are not to be neglected at the point of choosing your Kettlebell size. Younger folks should have Kettlebell trainers and guardians with them as Kettlebell training might be harmful if care is not taken. Your age, fitness, and experience determine the type of Kettlebell training you can take-on. The following are the two broad types of Kettlebell training that exist:

Kettlebell Grinds: Kettlebell training grinds include squats, presses, and deadlifts. The varieties of these three grinds include bent press, overhead press, Turkish get-up, windmills, sots press, and so on. These are called grinds because of the consistency and dedication attached to them. kettlebell grinds are not only the best for beginners, but they are also very great for experts as its technique is perfect for building strength and keeping fit without much stress. For Kettlebell grinds, you don’t need to use the biggest Kettlebell in the gym, all you have to do is ensure consistency with the little (or big) weight you choose.

Kettlebell Ballistics: Living up to its name, Kettlebell ballistics are very similar to the two most common human ballistic movements – jumping and throwing. These two movements are usually of two stages- a stage whereby you exert your energy and a stage whereby you leave everything to the force of gravity to complete the job – which comes first depends on whether you’re jumping or throwing. Kettlebell ballistic training includes snatches, swings (dead stop swings, two-hand swings, and one-arm swings), cleans, and more.

4. Quality of the Kettlebell: Well, there are a few tips about a Kettlebell that you need to know when buying a Kettlebell on the market. The following tips should be of help to a beginner:

Kettlebells have smooth handles: Not just the Handles, kettlebell Horns and Corners are also smooth. Gripping is part of Kettlebell training after all. The obtuse shape of the Handle also helps in ensuring a perfect grip and some products now come with a chip-resistant coating that enhances grip and lets users see the weight written on the Kettlebell through contrast.

Kettlebells have windows: As stated in its anatomy, the space between the handle and the Bell is the Kettlebell window. That distance is very important and every potential Kettlebell trainee needs to ensure that that window is comfortable enough for them to get a convenient hold of the Kettlebell.

Check for an anti-rust guarantee: Kettlebells are made of cast iron or steel, but some manufacturers might not ensure the right manufacturing process. You should ascertain the existence of a guarantee for the product – to ensure your kettlebells do not rust.

Other factors to consider are ball diameter and grip diameter.

Adjustable Kettlebell vs Standard Single Cast Kettlebells

If you want to train seriously with kettlebells and have the proper feel, grip and design of a true kettlebell, the standard single piece kettlebell is the only way to go. (the ones we are discussing in this post). However, if you just want to do some kettlebell training here and there, an adjustable kettlebell might be a good choice for you. But in our opinion, the two are incomparable as the standard kettlebell is far superior. It's the real deal.

If you disagree with us, we'd love to hear your opinion on adjustable kettlebells vs standard kettlebells in the comments below. 

We will discuss more on each of these factors and recommend the best sizes for you in our thorough guide to buying the right kettlebell weight below.

Complete Guide to Best Kettlebell Size

what size kettlebell should i buy

Standard Kettlebell Sizes

Standard kettlebell sizes refer to traditional Kettlebell sizes and they typically range in 4-5LB increments. The average kettlebells start from 5lbs and go up to 100lbs (although some kettlebell companies sell kettlebells as heavy as 200lbs! This is for real strongmen).

Kettlebells traditionally come in 4, 5 or 9lb increments, so you will see weights such as 26lbs, 35lb, 44lb OR 10, 15, 20, 25lbs...and so on.

Note: Although those increments may seem big, a jump from training with 15lbs to 20lbs is normal for kettlebell lifting. In fact, it is even recommended. 

Now, these days manufacturers have begun to produce kettlebell sizes in between these standard sizes for many reasons. For one, it gives users greater flexibility to choose between the wide range of weights and ease scaling-up a bit if they please. For another, it affords kids and other not-so-strong individuals the opportunity of having the Kettlebell taste. 

Kettlebell sizes you will most easily find on the market include:

5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100lbs

9, 13, 18, 26, 35, 40, 44, 53, 62, 70, 80, 88, 97lbs

What Size Kettlebell Should I Start With?

The best size to start with differs depending on your gender. Of course, for us to know the right answer to this question we may need to ask you some questions about your body weight, your age, your current fitness level, and your workout goals. While we’re not sure what your answers to such questions are and so we may not be able to directly give you the answer to your very personal question of “what size kettlebell is right for me as a beginner,” there are average kettlebell sizes for both male and female beginners and you’re sure to find the best answer for yourself if you continue reading.

Standard Kettlebell Sizes For Men, Women, Kids, and Seniors

best kettlebell size to start with

Kettlebell Size For Men 

When we talk about men here, we mean active males starting from the age of 18 years. In general, men can start from any weight between 24LBS to 35LBS kettlebell weight. While most men will be proud to start with something bigger and more challenging, what you start with is irrelevant in the long run. The most important thing is an improvement, the ability to fulfill your potentials as your training progresses.

Consistency is what you need to achieve your workout goals. You don’t need to do all the swings and squats that you would normally do in a week in a day. Moreover, you don’t want to pick up an injury when you just venture into this game, which might become so discouraging.

It is our professional recommendation that you start with a weight that is proportional to your skill level and fitness. This helps you to maintain a good form while you scale up with smiles and less stress. An average active man can start with 24LBS while a man known to be athletic can start with 35LBS. All in all, you can’t go wrong by choosing anything in-between.

Starting with anything in this range will help you to conveniently learn how to use proper techniques whether you’re training on your own or with a trainer. Then when progress beckons, as it will surely do, you scale-up!

Kettlebell Size For Women

Like we mentioned with men, the talk of women here refers to females starting from age 18 years. We recommend Kettlebell weights between 13LBS and 18LBS for women who are beginners.

Many women might consider this too light but when one is considering the Kettlebell weight to carry, one needs to just carry the right one – not too light, not too heavy.

While we advise everyone to carry just enough weight, some women have been found to underestimate their strengths, opting for Kettlebell sizes that are too small.

best kettlebell weight for women

A general rule of thumb is for you to carry a Kettlebell weight with which you’re able to do 5 repetitions (reps) of any workout you’re starting with. Also, if you’ve reached a stage whereby you can conveniently do 20 reps of that workout, then it’s the right time for you to pick up something heavier.

What Size Kettlebell For Kids?

For those who ask “can children use Kettlebells?” The answer to that question is YES! The American Academy of Pediatrics had since the year 1990 asserted the potential benefits of monitored weightlifting for children and adolescents on health and athleticism.

Due to that milestone, many Kettlebell manufacturers are offering Kettlebells as small as 5LBS for children. A kid’s Kettlebell size for a workout will depend on fitness and age.

Children aged 5-8 years can start with any size between 5-8LBS of weight, 9-11 years can take on 5-15LBS, and 12-16 years can take on 10-20LBS of Kettlebell weight. In the end, it will be the level of fitness that will determine the number of Kettlebell workout reps each child will perform.

Kettlebell lifting for kids should be limited to simple exercises. Avoid doing ballistic training with kids (i.e. swings and cleans). Simple exercises like goblet squats and deadlifts are best.

What Size Kettlebell For Seniors?

kettlebell size for seniors

Kettlebell exercises can be very helpful for seniors. They can help you build your strength and balance, as well as improve your cardiovascular fitness. However, to avoid injuries, if you're a senior just starting a workout with kettlebells, you should use lighter kettlebell weights and as you improve your form and strength, you can gradually increase the kettlebell weight you carry.

For seniors asking “What size kettlebell should I use?”  the average male senior should start with 20-26LBS and the average female senior should start with 15-18LBS. And it will be wiser for you to focus on cardio-based kettlebell exercises such as swings, squats, cleans, and presses because you're no longer trying to build excessive muscles, but just enough to keep your bones together and covered. Most importantly, you're trying to tap into the life-preserving benefits of kettlebell exercises.

One thing to keep in mind is joint health. If your joints are fragile, we recommend a lighter weight than mentioned above. If you have any doubts, be sure to ask your doctor or a physiotherapist about kettlebell training and if it's right for you.

No doubt, Kettlebells are one of the best home gym equipment for all age groups. You can learn more about other essential home-gym equipment from our Most Effective and affordable Home-gym Equipment article.

How Many Kettlebells Do I Need?

Now, as a beginner, don’t rush into using two Kettlebells to start your training. You don’t have to join your friends in those two-handed swings when they started before you. Start with just a single weight and increase your reps as you get used to it. It is also an opportunity for you to learn how to conveniently grip the Kettlebell. You can learn more about the importance of improving your grip strength from our How to Improve Your Grip Strength and Build Powerful Hands article.

Benefits of grip strength

Nonetheless, it will be best to have Kettlebells of equal or different weights at your disposal (having two is different from training with two right?), even from the beginning. No matter what stage you are as a Kettlebell trainee, having different Kettlebell sizes will let you pick up the right weight at the appropriate time as you improve and become aware of your strength. Also, having more than one Kettlebell of the same size will let you change your workout when appropriate and when you wish to do so.

So we recommend the following sets:

For women - 18LBS, 26LBS and 35LBS Kettlebell(s)

For Men - 26LBS, 35LBS and 53LBS Kettlebell(s)

Note: If the poundage is more or less a couple pounds than the above recommended that's fine. i.e. men can get 25, 35, and 50 and it's pretty much all the same.

With these three sizes of weights, it will be perfectly adequate for you to do most types of Kettlebell exercises in an effective manner - ballistics, grinds/traditional movements, and flows/complexes. The varying weights will be good for the different types of exercises (i.e. for men, a 25lb kettlebell for complexes [sequence of movements], the 35lb kettlebell for ballistics, and the 53lb kettlebell for exercises like goblet squats and deadlifts). 

how many kettlebells do i need

Kettlebell Workouts vs Fitness Level

When you aim to do a lot of ballistic workouts with the kettlebell and you have never done any of such activities before, starting with 18LB is good for women while 26LBS will be alright for men. If you had done some moderate ballistic workouts before, 35LBS is a good start for men and 26LBS is okay for women. Do ballistic workouts in the gym regularly? Then you can start with either 44LBS as a man while you can start with 35LBS as a woman.

When you aim to do lots of slow lifts with the kettlebell and you have never done anything like that before, starting with 22LBS is good for you as a woman while 30LBS for you as a man. If you had done some moderate slow lifts before, 35LBS for a woman and 44LBS is good for a man. Do lots of slow lifts in the gym regularly? Start with 44LBS as a woman and 53LBS as a man.

You may have some more questions about the best Kettlebell size for specific exercises (like kettlebell swings) or purposes/fitness goals, so you’ve compiled some for you below.

What Kettlebell Size For Size and Strength?

best kettlebell size for building muscle

What size kettlebell do I need for size and strength? Some people start doing kettlebell workouts because they want to build their size and strength. To build your size and strength using kettlebells, you need to focus on exercises that can give you the most beneficial results. And those types of exercises are usually Double Kettlebell Exercises with the heaviest kettlebell your body can handle.

An average male Kettlebell trainee can carry two weights that fall between 24LBS and 44lbs to do Double Kettlebell Front Squats, Double Kettlebell Military Press or Double Kettlebell Cleans and Snatches. However, depending on your fitness, you may need to increase the size of the Kettlebell you use. For the average female, it is around 20LBS to 30LBS for the same exercises.

Additionally, you can include another free-weight equipment in your Kettlebell exercise to get the most out of your workout. Excellent free-weight equipment you can combine with Kettlebells for incredible muscle build-up is the Steel Mace. You can learn more about how to get the best out of these two weightlifting equipment from our Steel Mace and Kettlebell Arm Blast Workout

What Size Kettlebell For Kettlebell Swings?

best kettlebell size for kettlebell swing

The kettlebell swing is a ballistic exercise that you can use to train your posterior chain muscles and it’s most useful in building your hip power and speed. To perform the kettlebell swing, you need to move the bell in a pendulum motion from between the knees to anywhere at your eye-level or above it. Seems simple? It isn't as simple as it sounds because improper kettlebell swings just worsen your postural imbalance and cause more damage than good. However, another thing that can cause more damage than good is using the wrong kettlebell size for your swings?

Although, the kettlebell weight for your kettlebell swings should vary and we believe that you won’t be carrying two Kettlebells at once unless you’re an intermediate as we’ve advised, here are the kettlebell sizes for intermediate men and women doing kettlebell swings:

  • One-handed Kettlebell Swings- Women can use 26LBS bells and men can use 35LBS bells.
  • Two-handed Kettlebell Swings- Women can use 35LBS bells and men can use 53LBS bells.

What Size Kettlebell For Squats and Goblet Squats?

what size kettlebell for goblet squats

The Kettlebell Goblet Squat is another effective kettlebell exercise that gives great rewards in less time than many other exercises. However, it requires a lot of effort from hundreds of muscles in your body. In turn, it helps you to burn lots of calories and helps to grow your lean muscle tissues.

  • For average active men doing Basic Goblet Squats, the best Kettlebell size is 40LBS.
  • For average active women doing Basic Squats, the best kettlebell squats size is 25LBS.

The kettlebell Goblet Squat is usually used to establish squat techniques, improve muscle hypertrophy and to build strength, among other benefits. The Goblet Squat is a typical beginner’s exercise to help new Kettlebell lifters get positional awareness, accumulate basic squat strength and technique, and get a better balance.

Squats are very popular in the fitness world but poor techniques and poor form can result in hip pains and injuries. You can learn more about perfecting your squat by reading our How to Fix Hip Pain article.

What Size Kettlebell For Turkish Get-Ups?

kettlebell size for turkish get ups

The Kettlebell Turkish Get-ups are very useful for developing your solid movement foundation as they tend to focus on your small stabilizing muscles. It is also a great Kettlebell exercise for people with weak cores, poor mobility or weak stabilizing muscles. Not only does it reveal your problems, but it also helps you develop a functional core, serves as a safeguard against back pain and improves your posture. Turkish Get-up is very good for those at the beginner level as well as those at the intermediate level.

Kettlebell Turkish Get-up Sizes For Women

  • Beginners (Inactive women): Between 9LBS – 13LBS
  • Beginners (Average active women): Between 13LBS – 18LBS
  • Beginners/Intermediate Level (Athletic women): Between 18LBS – 26LBS

Kettlebell Turkish Get-up Sizes For Men

  • Beginners (Inactive men): Start with 18LBS
  • Beginners (Average Active men): Between 18LBS – 26LBS
  • Beginners/Intermediate Level (Athletic men): Between 26LBS – 44LBS

What Size Kettlebells For Kettlebell Flows?

best kettlebell size for flows

Kettlebell Flows are quickly becoming popular among kettlebell athletes. Kettlebell Flows is not just one of the few kettlebell exercises that looks cool, but it also has benefits such as improved strength, stability, mobility, coordination, full-body workouts, and agility among other benefits. Beginners, intermediate and advanced flows exist for individuals fitting each level. It is best to use the Kettlebell size that you are most comfortable with for two to three exercises you want to put into a flow. For example, women can use Kettlebells between 18LBS and 26LBS for their Kettlebell Flows and men can use one between 26LBS and 44LBS for their flows.

Kettlebell Flow vs Kettlebell Complex

A kettlebell flow is more like a freestyle. You can do what you want in the moment. A complex is a planned sequence of movements, typically 4 or 5 exercises. Complexes can be done in a sequence or one exercise after the other (i.e. 5 x squats then 5 x presses then 5 x sumo deadlifts, without resting or putting the kettlebell down).

For complexes, you can go a little heavier than kettlebell flows. For an average male, a 20-30lb kettlebell is good for complex training and for an average female 15-25lbs. 

Competition Kettlebell Sizes

kettlebell competition sizes

Competition Kettlebells are usually made of steel and are, therefore, more durable than the common ones that are made of iron. Unlike other Kettlebells, their handles and other parts are always of the same shape and dimension regardless of their weights because of the need to maintain consistency in competitions and fairness among competitors. Competition kettlebells are much easier to use for advanced Kettlebell users than beginners because of their experience and fitness.

They are usually based in kilograms and range in 2 or 4kg increments according to international standards, each weight having varying color for convenient identification. For instance, in Girevoy Sport competition events, they use progressive lifts like:

18LBS (8kg) – Pink color
26lbs (12kg) – Blue color
35lbs (16kg) – Yellow color
44lbs (20kg) – Purple color
53lbs (24kg) – Green color
62LBS (28kg) – Orange color
71lbs (32kg) – Red color

Some Girevoy Sports competitions start male competitors with 26LBS, up to 88LBS; and females from 18LBS, up to 53LBS to a varying number of repetitions in lifts such as Snatch, Jerk, and Long Cycle. 

If you plan to do competition kettlebell sport, go for kettlebell sizes based on the competition you plan to enter, and your level. Of course, work your way up to being competition ready, don't just jump into the weights and reps you read from competition results.

What Kettlebell Size For Tone-up, Burning Fat and Keeping Fit

best kettlebell weight for losing fat

What size Kettlebell should I use to tone-up, burn fat, and keep fit? A kettlebell workout is a great way to tone your body, burn fat, earn some killer abs and keep fit.

  • For average active women, the best Kettlebell sizes for tone-up, burning fat and keeping fit is 18LBS for beginners, with a gradual build-up to 26LBS as you get used to the bells.
  • For average active men, the best Kettlebell sizes for tone-up, burning fat and keeping fit is 26LBS for beginners, with a gradual build-up to 44LBS.

If your goal is to burn fat, you want a weight that you can use with little rest and for HIIT workouts. This means you should go lighter than what you would use for traditional sets and reps workouts with longer rest. 

Kettlebell Sizes For One-handed Movements

There are numerous one-handed kettlebell exercises like the kettlebell snatch and the single-arm deadlift.

  • For snatches, an average man can use between 35-44LBS kettlebells while averagely active women can use between 18-26LBS.
  • For single arm deadlifts, an average man can use between 53-70LBS and an average woman can use between 26-53LBS.

best kettlebell weight for beginners

Best Kettlebell Size For Gyms

The best Kettlebell size should be the size most accessible to members of both genders and which is most commonly used in Kettlebell exercise. If we had to choose the three overall best Kettlebell sizes, we'd go 26, 35, and 44LBS or 20, 30, and 40lbs, depending on the supplier you buy from. 

Final note on what size kettlebell is best for you

If the size of the kettlebell is close to the weight we recommended for the specific purposes above, it will be fine. Don't worry if it is not exactly the same size. For example, if we recommended a 26LB kettlebell for something, a 24LB or 25LB kettlebell will be good too.

Moreover, everyone is different, so consider your capabilities first and foremost. 

kettlebell weights and sizes

Benefits of a Kettlebell Workout

Kettlebell workout or Kettlebell training has immense benefits for everyone that gives it the necessary attention it deserves.

Below are some of the benefits you’re bound to get from a Kettlebell exercise:

  • It enhances core strength and stability through its multiplanar and unilateral movements.
  • It improves body awareness and coordination through its dynamic movements.
  • It’s the most convenient way to reduce body weight, burning up to 400 calories in 20 minutes.
  • It improves mobility, flexibility, and posture.
  • It adds mass to lean muscles and enhances muscle strength.
  • It’s your best non-running cardio-workout.

Embedded in this ancient weight-measuring tool is everything you need for your total body-conditioning goals and you can know more about what you'll start to gain from it by reading our 18 Benefits of Kettlebells article.



1 Response

Jan Libourel
Jan Libourel

February 26, 2020

Just a minor correction, but one Russian pood is actually equal to 36.11 pounds or 16.38 kilograms.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.