Friday, October 25, 2013

How Do I Choose the Right Sized Kettlebell?

With so many sizes to choose from which kettlebell is right for you?
Selecting the right sized kettlebell can be a bit of a challenge.  Like the dumbbell and the medicine ball, the kettlebell comes in a wide range of sizes.  Some are manufactured in pounds [usually 5lb increments] and some in kilograms [in 2kg or 4kg increments].  With multiple choices in weight, can we make some recommendations on what size is best to start with?

The short answer is...yes.  When choosing weights with a few things in mind, even having 3-4 different sized kettlebells can be more than enough to keep your training varied and intense.

Let's break down the major movements for a moment.  When lifting a kettlebell with one hand there are three primary points on the body that you can lift it - to the hip, to the shoulder, and overhead.  You are at your strongest when moving weight from the ground to your hip - as in the deadlift.  Bringing the weight to your shoulder, as in the clean, will be your second strongest position.  And moving a kettlebell overhead will be the most challenging position requiring the most effort as in the snatch, push press, or push jerk.  All common sense stuff...  Sure, there's the swings and figure-eights.  But even those movements still focus on moving the weight to or around a certain area of the body.

In order to keep the movements challenging but not out of your strength range, we suggest three different weights or sizes of kettlebells are necessary.  We'll call them Heavy [to the hip], Moderate [to the shoulder], and Overhead.  Notice we didn't call that last one Light... picking up light things won't challenge you and won't change you.  An appropriately sized kettlebell for any one of these movements should be a challenge after a few reps.  

For those new to kettlebell training, we suggest you begin with an Overhead kettlebell weight.  This size kettlebell will keep all of your movement options open - to the hip, shoulder or overhead, and it's a great size for warmups.  With the Overhead kettlebell weight, you can concentrate on proper form in the movement before adding too much of a challenge.

Sample Workout with Heavy, Moderate or Overhead weight:

4 rounds
20 Kettlebell Short Swings[Heavy] or Cleans [Moderate] or Shoulder Press [Overhead]
20 Pullups
20 Double Unders / 100 Single Unders

With a workout like this in mind, choose a weight that makes you feel that after Round Two, this workout was a bad idea.  Seriously.  That means the weight was challenging.

You don't have to have three kettlebells on Day One to get a great workout.  If there's room in the budget for one to start, grab the Moderate or the Overhead first.  Either of those will open up the most amount of exercises from the very beginning.  And, should you start with the Moderate weight, as your strength increases, the kettlebells can shift up the 'ladder' or graduate to the next level.  The Moderate weight now becomes the Overhead and you replace the old kettlebell with a heavier one.

See our Kettlebell selection here.