KETTLEBELL BUYING GUIDE
1. Are kettlebells good?
2. What is the best weight to start?
3. How many kettlebells do I need?
4. What a good kettlebell looks and feels like?
1. Are Kettlebells Good?
The benefits of kettlebells include:
1. Universal tool for strength and cardio fitness. The strength benefits of kettlebells are pretty obvious: your core, legs, arms and backs – all will fire up and grow stronger. But, apart from that, kettlebells are a powerful tool to improve your cardiovascular fitness.
2. Train anytime, anywhere. Not in a mood for a crowded gym? Grab a bell and sweat at home, or throw a couple of bells into the trunk of your car – and go to work out anywhere in the world: nearby park or faraway seashore. In a mood to work out in the middle of the night, when gyms are closed? Kettlebells to the rescue!
3. Efficient and fun workouts. Kettlebells offer a wide variety of workouts: from the ultra-classic swings, presses and snatches – to dozens of squats, jumps, pushups, lunges, you name it.
4. Strong grip and powerful forearms. As most of us are moving away from manual labor into intellectual work, our grip becomes weaker. Meanwhile, strong grip is what helps you get stronger throughout your whole body: if it is weak, forget about heavy deadlifts and multiple pullups. Besides, grip strength is viewed as a biomarker for longevity and your biological age. And nothing proves your power more than a strong, confident handshake.
5. Body awareness, balance and coordination. Most of the day, we just walk, sit down or stand up, without realizing or thinking about our posture or the position of our body. Kettlebells will help you improve proprioception (the fancy word for coordination: how the core and body parts are moving in relation to each other), deal with muscle imbalances, and become more mindful about your every move.
6. Burn that fat. Kettlebells possess an insane calorie-burning potential. Take, for example, kettlebell swings: depending on the pace of swinging and the weight of the bell, they will burn you up to 200 calories in 10 minutes. Burn it like you mean it!
7. Last for ages. Cast iron kettlebells are a great investment. It is a heavy chunk of metal: cannot break it, cannot burn it. USA Iron kettlebells are made by people who love and know what they're doing: they are made to last you a lifetime.
2. BEST WEIGHTS TO START
When you think of weight, the first thing to consider is whether you are a novice to strength training or just looking to add some iron jazz to your strength and conditioning workouts.
Here are the reference weights ranges:
Beginners (never worked with kettlebells and/or other strength training):
Men: 25–35 lb
Women: 20–25 lb
Intermediate (have some lifting experience):
Men: 35–44 lb
Women: 25–35 lb
Advanced (experienced lifters):
Men: 44–50 lb
Women: 35–44 lb
Keep in mind that weight will also depend on the specific kettlebell movement: while you might find a 35-pounder easy-peasy for swings, which employ your legs and butt – the biggest and strongest muscle groups, it can be too taxing for overhead movements, like presses and snatches.
So, if you are a beginner, you may want to start with a 20–25 lb kettlebell and, once you have mastered the fundamental movements (swing, clean, Turkish get-up, etc.), move on to the next weight increment.
With your strength increasing, your confidence will build up, and you can gradually progress towards more challenging exercises. Nevertheless, overconfidence aside: to keep yourself injury-free, switch to heavier bells only when you have mastered the proper form of an exercise.
Take a look at our kettlebell ranges – to select the best one for your needs.
3. HOW MANY KETTLEBELLS DO I NEED?
Apart from the obvious financial aspect, the question of one heavy or two lighter kettlebells depends on your goals and experience.
For example, if you want to do racked kettlebell squats, but do not feel comfortable with a 44- or 50-pounder in one hand, you might make a better use of two lighter kettlebells, e.g. 2x20 or 2x25 lb, which you can comfortably hold in both hands. Gradually, as your grip strength improves (and, rest assured, it will!), you can move to offset racked squats: with a heavier kettlebell in one hand.
While on the subject of core strength development: a single heavy kettlebell loaded on one side of your body will require more core stabilization to control the weight. For single, heavy, offset kettlebell movements (e.g. Offset Kettlebell Squat, Offset Kettlebell Lunge), your upper body needs to be strong enough to be able to balance that weight.
If you use two bells, you can load your core with the same amount of weight without overloading one side of your body: it will allow you to maintain the rack or overhead position even if your single arm isn’t strong enough to hold a heavy kettlebell.
In a perfect world, you should do both heavy single and lighter double kettlebell exercises. But sometimes life is far from perfect. Only have one bell? Don't get discouraged! You may have a great workout with just one kettlebell: if you feel that you have "outgrown" it, and it feels too light, you can always find more challenging workouts even with the same weight (increase the number of sets and/or reps, decrease the duration of rest between sets, etc.).
However, we recommend purchasing at least one pair of kettlebells: for single-hand and for double-hand work.
In any case, if you use two bells, both of them need to be the same weight and, ideally, shape: to prevent uneven distribution of weight and subsequent injuries.
4. WHAT A GOOD KETTLEBELL LOOKS AND FEELS LIKE?
So, you made up your mind. You are ready. And now you want to know how to choose a perfect kettlebell. Here's a few tips, what to look for:
1. Clean finish. The body of the bell and its handle should be smooth: there should be no dents or splinters, nothing which could catch on your clothing or cut your skin.
2. Durable coating. Professional, durable coating protects the bell from rust and damage. It also provides a non-slip surface for your sweaty hands.
3. Flat, machined base. A good kettlebell has a machined, flat base, which makes it perfect for floor workouts: push-ups, dips, rows. The bells should not be wobbly – to avoid wrist injury while you are supporting yourself on their handles.
4. Handle comfortable for your grip. The handle of the bell should be comfortable for your hand – so that you can wrap your fingers around it into a safe, strong grip, and coated with durable, smooth coating. For an average person, the average comfortable diameter of the handle is around 34–36 mm.
Looks like you are ready for your first – or twenty-first – kettlebell. Go ahead – and don't look back!