What Size Kettlebell Should I Get?
Because the kettlebells seen in gyms and training videos seem to have as much size variety as dumbbells, many people wonder what size is appropriate for their brand of workouts.
However, the kettlebell is a complex piece of training equipment. The size stands for a lot more than you realize. When choosing the best kettlebell for your needs, there are a lot more factors that should weigh on your decision.Here are a few key aspects you should know before buying your first kettlebell.
Steel vs Cast Iron Kettlebells
There are two main types of kettlebells.
Cast Iron Kettlebells
These are usually the kettlebells you see in every gym. They are fairly affordable, available in various sizes and weights, and quite durable.
High-tensile strength steel is used to make steel kettlebells or pro-grade kettlebells; these are the bells you see in competitions. They have a different design than their cast iron counterparts – the size is the same regardless of the weight. Depending on how good or bad your technique is, you may have to choose your kettlebells based on the material they’re made from.
Explaining Kettlebell Sizes
As cast iron kettlebells get heavier, they also increase in size. Both the handle and the core get bigger. But this doesn’t happen with pro-grade or competition steel kettlebells.
A professional kettlebell has the same handle size, space, and bell size regardless of the rated weight. This poses an interesting question. Are they easier or harder to use?
For a beginner, they are definitely harder to handle. Because of the external center of mass, a great deal of strain is being placed not just on the muscles but also on your wrists.
And for heavier steel kettlebells, you have to contend with the same forearm positioning regardless of the weight. Needless to say, this can make things very difficult if you have big muscles but poor grip strength.
It can also be difficult if you have big hands and the tight space between the handle and the bell doesn’t allow you to get a firm grip.
However, this is also considered an advantage by professionals of course. Not only does it level the playing field, but it also allows judges in competitions to accurately judge technique and not just raw strength.
There’s another issue worth mentioning. Cast iron kettlebells aren’t always flat on the bottom, whereas steel competition kettlebells are. This could also factor into your decision and maybe carry more weight than the size and weight of the kettlebell.
A flat bottom allows you to perform a wide range of floor exercises – push-ups, planks, dynamic plank exercises, stability exercises, body lifts, and other core exercises. A bigger cast iron kettlebell won’t necessarily guarantee as much stability as a smooth and flat-bottom pro-grade kettlebell.
Is There a Definitive Answer?
So what size kettlebell should you get? Unfortunately, this question doesn’t and will not have a simple answer. The size and weight of the kettlebell are determined by a few factors:
- Type of kettlebell exercise
- Type of kettlebell
- Your body type
- Your strength
- Your grip
What complicates things further is the fact that not all fitness instructors can agree upon the same numbers. For example, one instructor may recommend a 35-lb. kettlebell for most exercises involving swings. This would be a suitable weight for the average male.
But what is the definition of the average male in terms of strength? – There isn’t one. That’s why other instructors might recommend a 44-lb. or even a 50-lb. kettlebell for swing, clean, and other explosive kettlebell exercises.
Simply put, no one can tell you how much you can lift, press, or swing. No one knows your body better than yourself. Does this mean that you can’t order a kettlebell online until you’ve tried it? Not really.
You could always go to a local gym and take advantage of a workout session. Most gyms these days have kettlebells in their arsenal so you can go there for two hours, free of charge, and test your limits.
After that, you can go home and order the kettlebell you felt most comfortable with in terms of size and weight. Or, you can also plan ahead and get something that’s a bit more difficult to use. That way, you will slowly develop the strength to handle it and still have plenty of use for it later on.
A kettlebell’s size could simply refer to its dimensions. But, in other cases, it could also reference the weight. The bigger it is, the heavier it is; at least when it comes to the standard cast iron bells. Take specific values with a grain of salt. Everyone is different and there are also very different kettlebell exercises that you can perform. What may be great for one workout DVD may not be as so great for another.
Never Go Too Big
Let’s say that you’ve decided on using kettlebells of 60 to 70 lbs. and up. If that’s the case, you should seriously consider getting pro-grade steel kettlebells. The reason is simple: Cast iron kettlebells are not nearly as durable. And don’t think of durability as just the impact resistance. The welding points on some cast iron commercial kettlebells can pose serious structural integrity issues. A steel kettlebell in this weight range may be hard to handle if it’s smaller in size, but it is safer in the long run.
Remember that kettlebells should probably be chosen based on your lifestyle and workout ethic. If you’re a natural slacker or you’re just looking to lose weight, or you simply travel too much to be able to put in the work, getting a small kettlebell is advised. That way you can use kettlebell training purely for conditioning and not strength development.
If you’re serious about kettlebell training, then you should prioritize technique. Professional kettlebells help you focus more on the technique by giving you a constant forearm alignment baseline.If you don’t mind spending a bit extra on your training gear, then you should consider forgetting all about size and focus more on getting the more suitable type of kettlebell. Also, don’t forget to get one from a trusted manufacturer.