If you’re thinking of getting into Kettlebell training, you probably have some questions about how to choose a Kettlebell, including which type is best for beginners and what weight to buy.
Along with addressing these questions, in this article we will look at the history of the original Russian Kettlebell. We will discuss Kettlebell workout benefits to help you decide if they will suit your needs. We will also look at the various types of kettlebells along with their associated pros and cons.
History of the Kettlebell
The original Russian Kettlebell was first used back in the 1700s, though not for fitness purposes. Back then, farmers used kettlebells to weigh their crops. When buying them from the market, the farmers had fun demonstrating the strength they’d developed through lifting the weight regularly. Around this time, strongmen and athletes began using kettlebells as part of their training regimens.
In the early 20th century the Soviet Army introduced kettlebells into their training program. In the 1940s they were used in weightlifting competitions in Russia and other parts of Europe. By the 1960s, kettlebells had made their way to the USA where they were used in gyms and health clubs for strength training and cardio workouts.
These days, kettlebells are standard equipment in most gyms. For those who prefer to work out on their own, there are now many kinds and brands of kettlebells available for home use.
Kettlebell Workout Benefits
Kettlebell workout benefits are many. There are kettlebell exercises to tone and sculpt all of the body’s major muscles group.
The effort involved in lifting the weight builds strength and boosts endurance. Furthermore, the act of swinging a kettlebell improves balance and agility. When regularly undertaken, kettlebell exercises improve cardiovascular health and functioning.
Unlike dumbbells which can be used for single arm weightlifting, kettlebell’s center of mass moves far beyond the hands. The movements work the body to a greater degree, and they involve more muscle groups. Regarded as an “unstable force” in weight training, this is a primary reason as to why kettlebell training is so effective.
For more information on kettlebells and kettlebell workout benefits, read What are Kettlebells, and What are Their Benefits?
What Types of Kettlebell are Available?
There are several different types of kettlebells. Some contain a filling such as sand, water or another material, like uncooked rice. Going by the name of adjustable kettlebells, their weight can be altered by adding to or removing some of the “filling.”
The three most popular types of kettlebell are those made of concrete, cast iron, and steel. We will look at these below.
- Concrete Kettlebells
Concrete filled kettlebells are a good option for people who want to try kettlebell training without spending a lot of money. While inexpensive, they do have some flaws. For a start, they are larger than other types of kettlebells, which makes doing some exercises cumbersome. The concrete filling inside their covering has a tendency to chip or shatter if dropped, too.
The casing of some concrete kettlebells can be tough on hands and floors. Still, there are some that are gentle on the hands that won’t scratch or mark your floors. If you buy a high-quality concrete kettlebell and use it carefully, you should be happy with it.
- Cast Iron Kettlebells
More expensive, but still affordable for most people are cast iron kettlebells. The cheapest ones consist of 100% cast iron. Spend a bit more, and you can buy a cast iron kettlebell which has a coating of vinyl or enamel that prevents it from slipping during use. Some are color-coded, enabling the exerciser to identify its weight at a glance.
With cast iron kettlebells, usually the heavier the weight, the larger the Kettlebell will be. The bell’s handles can also vary in size depending on its weight. This can make heavier cast iron kettlebells slightly uncomfortable to use if you have very small hands. Another possible issue with this type of kettlebell is that their coating can sometimes scratch or chip.
- Steel Kettlebells
Competition kettlebells are made from high-grade steel to specifications required by national and international competition guidelines. Anyone can use them, and though more expensive, they do have some benefits over other types of kettlebells.
For a start, each kettlebell will often have the same dimensions, regardless of their weight. This uniformity will enable you to progress to a heavier weight as your strength improves without having to adjust to a different size kettlebell.
Steel kettlebell’s handles are usually thinner, so they tend to be more comfortable. Slip-resistant, their easy grip enables a precise and consistent range of motion for each repetition, speeding up your results.
What type of kettlebell is best for beginners?
If you are new to kettlebell training and you want to get a feel for it and money is very tight, buy a concrete kettlebell.
If you have a little more money to spend, go with a cast iron kettlebell. These are still relatively inexpensive, less cumbersome than a concrete kettlebell and they will enable you to do a broader range of exercises. If you like kettlebell workouts, you can always upgrade to a steel competition kettlebell later. If you have the money to buy one from the start, by all means, do so to take advantage of its additional benefits.
Kettlebell weight system
Russian kettlebells weights are measured in poods, with 1 pood being the equivalent of approximately 35 pounds or 16 kilograms. In the USA, the most used weights are in the 10lb to 80lb plus range.
In the UK, Australia, and other countries that use the metric system, kettlebells typically range from 5kg to 36kg.
What weight Kettlebell should I get?
The recommended weight to use will vary slightly depending on the trainer who is advising you. Women should be able to work with a weight in the vicinity of 15lb to 20lb. Men will probably find they can work with 25lb to 35lb to start. This sounds like a lot, but you won’t be lifting the kettlebell with one arm or leg. You will be using your upper body, lower body, and core throughout most of the movements.
Using too light a weight won’t enable you to get the maximum benefit from your workout. It can also cause you to use the wrong muscles for the move and injury could result. Using a weight that’s too heavy could also cause an injury.
If you are brand new to exercise and you don’t have a lot of upper body strength, I recommend starting with the lightest weight in the range above. If you live near a gym, ask nicely, and they might let you try out their kettlebells.
What are some effective Kettlebell exercises?
There are many effective kettlebell exercises. Some of the most common are Kettlebell Swings, Windmills, Cleans and Snatches. Other popular and effective kettlebell exercises include Single Arm Swings, 2 Arm Rows, Goblet Squats, Figure 8’s and Russian Twists.
There are plenty of videos and instructional e-books available online that will walk you through how to do kettlebell exercises using correct form.
Final Words on how to Choose a Kettlebell
Kettlebells have a different feel to other weights and the exercises done with a kettlebell are unique. Even very fit people may have to start with a lighter weight. Conversely, individuals who have never lifted weights before should be able to use a heavier weight than they would when using traditional dumbbells.
If you are on a very tight budget, a concrete kettlebell will give you an idea of what to expect from kettlebells. However, their larger size can make it difficult to do some exercises. Their relative fragility is another negative of this type of kettlebell.
It’s worth paying a bit extra for a quality cast iron kettlebell. You could even buy a steel kettlebell, but this isn’t really necessary at this early stage.
Before deciding which kettlebell to buy, read reviews. There are some excellent, inexpensive models available. Unfortunately, there are also some that chip and have rough handles that are too small to grasp properly. Some cheaply made kettlebells also become slippery during workouts.
Click here to read about 10 Top Rated Kettlebells for 2017 and Beyond