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, this article will look at the history of the original Russian Kettlebell, Kettlebell workout benefits, the various types of kettlebells, and their associated pros and cons.
Table of Contents
History of the Kettlebell
The original Russian Kettlebell dates back to the 1700s, but it was not used for fitness purposes. In those days, 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, with numerous types and brands also available to buy 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, kettlebells’ center of mass moves far beyond the hands.
The movements work the body to a greater degree, involving more muscle groups. Regarded as an “unstable force” in weight training, this is a primary reason 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.
Known as adjustable kettlebells, you can alter their weight by adding more 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-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 tends to chip or shatter if dropped, too.
The casing of some concrete kettlebells can be tough on hands and floors.
Still, some are gentle on the hands and 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 that has a coating of vinyl or enamel that prevents it from slipping during use.
Some are color-coded, enabling the exerciser to identify their weight at a glance.
With cast iron kettlebells, the heavier the weight, the larger the Kettlebell will usually 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 tiny hands.
Another possible issue with this type of kettlebell is that the coating sometimes scratches or chips.
Competition kettlebells are made from high-grade steel to 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 its 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 handles are usually thinner, so they tend to be more comfortable.
Being easy to grip and slip-resistant, they provide a precise and consistent range of motion for each repetition, speeding up your results.
Read on to find out how to choose a kettlebell if you are new to this type of training.
What type of kettlebell is best for beginners?
If you are new to kettlebell training and 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 concrete kettlebells, and they give access to 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 equivalent to approximately 35 pounds or 16 kilograms. The most used weights in America are in the 10 lb to 80 lb plus range.
In the UK, Australia, and other countries that use the metric system, kettlebells typically range from 5 kg to 36 kg.
What weight Kettlebell should I get?
The recommended weight to use will vary slightly depending on the trainer advising you.
Women should be able to work with a weight in the vicinity of 15 lb to 20 lb.
Men will probably find they can work with 25 lb to 35 lb 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 movements.
Using too light a weight won’t enable you to get the maximum benefit from your workout.
And it might cause you to use the wrong muscles for the move, which could cause an injury.
A weight that’s too heavy could also cause an injury.
If you are new to exercise and don’t have much 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.
Kettlebell Swings, Windmills, Cleans, and Snatches are some of the most popular. Other 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 the correct form.
Final Words on how to Choose a Kettlebell
Kettlebells have a different feel from 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 very challenging 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 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.
If you’re looking for some moves to get you underway here are 5 Beginner Kettlebell Exercises for you to try.
Click here to read about 10 Top Rated Kettlebells for 2023 and Beyond.