KETTLEBELL WEIGHTS

Size Selection & Quality for Results

Choosing the right Kettlebell weights, dimensions, and quality of material. Is just as important as performing with them correctly.

Today there are so many different manufacturers, shapes and sizes available, and offering just as many different prices depending on your budget.

I gather many people reading this will either be beginners, or fitness enthusiasts on the verge of taking the first steps in purchasing and learning to train with Kettlebells. And this guide will help you make a calculated decision.

I would like to add that I am a traditionalist at heart.  And this section will be kept simple, with the key focus on the qualities of Standard Cast Iron or Steel Kettlebells. (More information on Competition or ‘Girivoy Sport’ Kettlebells can be found at :  ).  

In my experience, Iron and steel offer and exhibit all the attributes you require for a productive kettlebell workout. 

Especially in regards to durability, comfort, texture and weight distribution. When performing any exercises during a Kettlebell Workout routine.

Aesthetically pleasing or novelty Kettlebells such as : adjustable, ornamentally shaped or Kettlebells that are plastic / rubber coated etc. Just don’t cut the mustard as far as I’m concerned, and so are not worth commenting about.

If your going to work out with Kettlebell weights seriously and on a regular basis, you might as well understand what are the essential requirements of purchasing a good quality Kettlebell set from the off.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT KETTLEBELL WEIGHTS
FOR MEN AND WOMEN

Its important to determine a weight that you feel comfortable to start with. And the table below is a good basic guide to use, for the ideal Kettlebell weights for both men and women.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON USING VERY LIGHT KETTLEBELL WEIGHTS

Try to avoid using very light kettlebell weights such as 4k. As this serves no purpose whatsoever in developing any form or technique. 

Over the past few years, kettlebell weights such as  4k, 6k, 10k, 14k, 18k, 28k and 36k have been added to the original / traditional pood format of  8k, 12k, 16k, 20k, 24k, 32k and 40k.

In essence this has been a good thing. But the additional weights of  4k and 6k can be detrimental in the development  and progression of your kettlebell workouts.

For example, having a more substantial weight gives you much better feedback, and helps you understand the mechanics far better. Any particular lift is slowed down because of the extra weight, and therefore your focus is then centered solely on technique. In order to successfully lift the extra weight.

This is in stark contrast to a very light kettlebell that flys all over the place, because you rely to much on natural momentum and brute force.

Some people can also become too attatched to working with such a light weight. They become stuck in a comfort zone, and refuse to move up in weight. Whether that’s in fear of working with a heavier weight or just the fact they believe working out with such a light weight will actually yield results.

Either way, they can stagnate indefinetly.

Very light kettlebell weights do have a place in various core workouts, or if participating in established cardio based sessions such as Kettlercise etc. But for the 8 Basic Kettlebell Exercises and their progressions, try to keep to 8k plus.

Women should also not be to apprehensive in lifting heavier, at least an extra 4k on top of what they start with. If you work on the old pood.

GENERAL REQUIREMENTS WHEN BUYING A KETTLEBELL

MANUFACTURING PROCESS

To withstand extreme punishment and wear and tear, it is advisable to purchase a kettlebell that has been manufactured from a Single Cast ( One Piece Mould ).

In other words, the handles have not been welded onto the spherical main body (Bell) of the kettlebell  (Two Stage Manufacturing Process).

Welded handles make the ketllebell susceptible to eventual breakages,

Two stage manufacturing also tends to create uncomfortable seams and burrs, that can seriously hinder your Kettlebell workouts. Where friction is created between the hands, forearms and handles, resulting in bad blisters, rips and general discomfort.

It gets worse the heavier the kettlebell you work with.

You will often find seams and burrs on most of the cheaper makes and models of kettlebells.

Although this problem rarely applies to the more upmarket maunufacturers / companies such as Kettlebellkings, Dragondoor, Renegade to name but a few.

Most burrs and seams will be found on either the underside or base of the kettlebell handle. The seam being a prominent ridge along the top internal rim. And the burrs where the handles have been welded to the bell.

It is well advised you file these down.

TEXTURE AND FINISH

The texture / finish of the kettlebell should be the same for both handles and the Bell. But avoid Gloss, Plastic, Rubber Coated surfaces, and Chrome handles.

  • Gloss –   Paint tends to chip and makes the surface abrasive, and splinters of paint can also embed into the skin. Also the gloss finish can stick to your arms when you sweat.

 

  • Plastic –  Can split and tear, which eventually falls off, exposing sub standard casting manufacturing processes which have seams and burrs.

 

  • Rubber Coated –   Depending on what kind of rubber it is, it can often be quite abrasive on the skin. And like gloss will stick to the body.

In fact some rubber surface handles are so abrasive, they deposit not only a thick rubber coating on your hands which leave them black. But it is almost impossible to perform certain kettlebell exercises, due to the overwhelming tackiness of the rubber.

Ideally you want the surface to be a combination of not to smooth, and not to rough. It needs to absorb chalk, not stick to the body or hands, or become slippery due to excessive sweating.

The best coatings to consider in reducing or eliminating the above problems are  ‘E’ Coated (most expensive, but the best), Power Coated and Matte finishes.

Choosing any one of these, will more or less guarantee a problem free workout.

HANDLES : DIMENSIONS & BENEFITS
INTERNAL RIM DIMENSIONS

For freedom of movement and comfort, the handles of the Kettlebell need to have a naturally ergonomical curve. And therefore the whole handle needs to be a kind of horizontally wide oval shape.

The Internal Rim Dimensions should measure Height : 53mm – 55mm X Width : 125mm

HANDLE THICKNESS

The thickness of the handles can measure between 30mm to 38mm. And with cast iron kettlebells these measurements will exponentially increase as the kettlebells get heavier and larger.

The ideal dimensions for men and women are :  WOMEN  33mm  MEN 35mm.

These standard dimensions will allow the user to not only control the inertia and velocity being generated by the kettlebell, but help increase grip strength without generating unessessary tension because the girth or thickness is to excessive.

But if your main goal is developing grip strength. You will generally find that the heavier the Kettlebell (32kg +) the thicker the handle

NOTE : AVOID USING THIN HANDLES

Very thin handles are to be avoided. As they can become very uncomfortable because of the overbearing weight and pressure being applied to such a small surface area. This problem generally applies to any Kettlebell weights from 12k upwards.

When in the Rack Position, it is important that the ‘Bell’ is resting on the middle of the forearm.  And therefore the gap or distance from the internal rim of the kettlebell handle to the outer rim of the ‘Bell’ is the right length.

If the handle is to long, it will rest near your elbow. To short and it will rest on your wrist. But in either position it will be very uncomfortable.

BODY OF KETTLEBELL

The main body of the kettlebell just like the handles, need to be of the same texture and finish. And its best to keep to the traditional slightly distorted cannonball shape.

BASE

Its important that the base of any kettlbell weights are a MACHINE FLAT FINISH for stability and safety.

Bevelled Bases and Rounded Edges (below) should be avoided. As they create an uneven / wobbly surface which can lead to serious injuries, when attempting any of the above mentioned exercises or similar.

Choosing the right Kettlebell weights, dimensions, and quality of material. Is just as important as performing with them correctly.

Today there are so many different  manufacturers, shapes and sizes available, and offering just as many different prices depending on your budget.

I gather many people reading this will either be beginners, or fitness enthusiasts on the verge of taking the first steps in purchasing and learning to train with Kettlebells. And this guide will help you make a calculated decision.


I would like to add that I am a traditionalist at heart.  And this section will be kept simple, with the key focus on the qualities of Standard Cast Iron or Steel Kettlebells. (More information on Competition or ‘Girivoy Sport’ Kettlebells can be found at :  ).  

In my experience, Iron and steel offer and exhibit all the attributes you require for a productive kettlebell workout.  Especially  when it comes to durability, comfort, texture and weight distribution, on the execution of all exercises within the Kettlebell library.

Aesthetically pleasing or novelty Kettlebells  which are : adjustable, ornamentally shaped or Kettlebells that are plastic / rubber coated etc. Just don’t cut the mustard as far as I’m concerned, and so are not worth commenting about.

If your going to work out with Kettlebell weights seriously and on a regular basis, you might as well understand what are the essential requirements of purchasing a good quality Kettlebell set from the off.



CHOOSING THE RIGHT KETTLEBELL WEIGHTS FOR MEN AND WOMEN

Its important to determine a weight that you feel comfortable to start with. And the table below is a good basic guide to use, for the ideal Kettlebell weights for both men and women.

ABILITYMENWOMEN
Below Average Fitness12-16kg8-12kg (6kg for Presses)
Average Fitness Level16-20kg12-16kg
Good Fitness Level20-24kg16-20kg

NOTE : VERY LIGHT KETTLEBELL WEIGHTS

Try to avoid using very light kettlebell weights such as 4k. As this serves no purpose whatsoever in developing any form or technique. 

Over the past few years, kettlebell weights such as  4k, 6k, 10k, 14k, 18k, 28k and 36k have been added to the original / traditional pood format of  8k, 12k, 16k, 20k, 24k, 32k and 40k. In essence has been a good thing. But the additional weights of  4k and 6k can be detrimental in the development  and progression of your kettlebell workouts.

For example, having a more substantial weight gives you much better feedback, and helps you understand the mechanics far better. Any particular lift is slowed down because of the extra weight, and therefore your focus is then centered solely on technique. In order to successfully lift the extra weight.

This is in stark contrast  to a very light kettlebell that flys all over the place, because you rely to much on natural momentum and brute force.

Some people can also become too attatched to working with such a light weight. They become stuck in a comfort zone, and refuse to move up in weight. Whether that’s in fear of working with a heavier weight or just the fact they believe working out with such a light weight will actually yield results.

Either way, they can stagnate indefinetly.

Very light kettlebell weights do have a place in various core workouts, or if participating in established cardio based sessions such as Kettlercise etc. But for the 7 Basic Kettlebell Exercises and their progressions, try to keep to 8k plus.

Women should also not be to apprehensive in lifting heavier, at least an extra 4k on top of what they start with. If you work on the old pood.


GENERAL REQUIREMENTS WHEN BUYING A KETTLEBELL

  1. MANUFACTURING PROCESS
  2. TEXTURE
  3. HANDLES
  4. BODY
  5. BASE

MANUFACTURING PROCESS

To withstand extreme punishment and wear and tear, it is advisable to purchase a kettlebell that has been manufactured from a Single Cast ( One Piece Mould ).

In other words, the handles have not been welded onto the spherical main body (Bell) of the kettlebell  ( Two Stage Manufacturing Process). Welded handles make the ketllebell susceptible to eventual breakages,

Two stage manufacturing also tends to create uncomfortable seams and burrs, that can seriously hinder your Kettlebell workouts. Where friction is created between the hands, forearms and handles, resulting in bad blisters, rips and general discomfort.

It gets worse the heavier the kettlebell you work with.

You will often find seams and burrs on most of the cheaper makes and models of kettlebells. Although this problem rarely applies to the more upmarket maunufacturers / companies such as Kettlebellkings, Dragondoor, Renegade to name but a few.

Most burrs and seams will be found on either the underside or base of the kettlebell handle. The seam being a prominent ridge along the top internal rim. And the burrs where the handles have been welded to the bell.

It is well advised you file down these


TEXTURE AND FINISH

The texture / finish of the kettlebell should be the same for both handles and the Bell. But avoid Gloss, Plastic, Rubber Coated surfaces, and Chrome handles.

  • Gloss –   Paint tends to chip and makes the surface abrasive, and splinters of paint can also embed into the skin. Also the gloss finish can stick to your arms when you sweat.
  • Plastic –  Can split and tear, which eventually falls off, exposing sub standard casting manufacturing processes which have seams and burrs.
  • Rubber Coated –   Depending on what kind of rubber it is, it can often be quite abrasive on the skin. And like gloss will stick to the body. In fact some rubber surface handles are so abrasive, they deposit not only a thick rubber coating on your hands which leave them black. But it is almost impossible to perform certain kettlebell exercises, due to the overwhelming tackiness of the rubber.

Ideally you want the surface to be a combination of not to smooth, and not to rough. It needs to absorb chalk, not stick to the body or hands, or become slippery due to excessive sweating.

The best coatings to consider in reducing or eliminating the above problems are  ‘E’ Coated (most expensive, but the best), Power Coated and Matte finishes. Choosing any one of these will more or less guarantee a problem free workout.


HANDLES : DIMENSIONS & BENEFITS

Internal Rim Dimensions

For freedom of movement and comfort, the handles of the Kettlebell need to have a naturally ergonomical curve. And therefore the whole handle needs to be a kind of horizontally wide oval shape.

The Internal Rim Dimensions should measure Height : 53mm – 55mm X Width : 125mm


Handle Thickness

The thickness of the handles can measure between 30mm to 38mm. And with cast iron kettlebells these measurements will exponentially increase as the kettlebells get heavier and larger.

The ideal dimensions for men and women are :  WOMEN  33mm  MEN 35mm.

These standard dimensions will allow the user to not only control the inertia and velocity being generated by the kettlebell, but help increase grip strength without generating unessessary tension because the girth or thickness is to excessive.

But if your main goal is developing grip strength. You will generally find that the heavier the Kettlebell (32kg +) the thicker the handle

Note on Thin Handles

Very thin handles are to be avoided. As they can become very uncomfortable because of the overbearing weight and pressure being applied to such a small surface area. This problem generally applies to any Kettlebell weights from 12k upwards.

When in the Rack Position, it is important that the ‘Bell’ is resting on the middle of the forearm.  And therefore the gap or distance from the internal rim of the kettlebell handle to the outer rim of the ‘Bell’ is the right length.

If the handle is to long, it will rest near your elbow. To short and it will rest on your wrist. But in either position it will be very uncomfortable.


BODY

The main body of the kettlebell just like the handles, need to be of the same texture and finish. And its best to keep to the traditional slightly distorted cannonball shape.


BASE

Its important that the base of any kettlbell weights are a MACHINE FLAT FINISH for stability and safety.

This is especially important when performing more advanced kettlebell exercises such as Renegade Rows, Abdominal Half Levers. Or for the more experienced, Handstand Press Ups.

Bevelled Bases and Rounded Edges (below) should be avoided. As they create an uneven / wobbly surface which can lead to serious injuries, when attempting any of the above mentioned exercises or similar.