Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


Kettlebell Buyers’ Guide
Posted By Scott Bird

KettlebellFor anyone considering adding a kettlebell or two to their home gym, here are a couple of points to keep in mind :

  • Kettlebells have traditionally been manufactured in various sizes, each of them based on the old Russian unit of measurement pood. A pood is equal to 40 funt (фунт, Russian pounds), and is approximately 16.38 kilograms (36.11 pounds). The pood was abolished in the USSR in 1924, but many kettlebells are still manufactured in multiples of 16kg.
  • Men usually start out with a 16kg(36lb) bell – this is the one I have, and it’s harder than the weight would suggest. For anyone with a few years of weight training under their belt (and certainly for competitive powerlifters), or anyone over 183cm/6′ and about 90kg/198lb, a 24kg bell is worth considering. If you get a chance to try one out somewhere before you buy it, pick it up and clean it. That’ll give you a reasonable idea.
  • The female equivalents of the 16 and 24 are about 8kg and 12kg (on average – of course there are those who would easily work with more than this). Once again, if you can try before you buy, great. The thick handles and concentrated weight make a difference.
  • If you’ve already got a kettlebell and are considering a second, a typical progression (for men) is 16/24/32. Once you have these three, if you want more, start again at 16. There are plenty of exercises involving two bells, and many of these are easier with the same weight for each.
  • I’ve never tried the adjustable kettlebells – I’m sure that some of them are great – but remember that you’ll be swinging them over your head, dropping them on various surfaces (particularly if you try a bit of kettlebell juggling – good fun), and generally giving them a bit more punishment than the typical dumbbells. Personally, I prefer the old-style lumps of iron for that reason.
  • If you do end up going for the traditional bells, remember that they last indefinitely and the design hasn’t really changed over the years. If you see one on ebay, or a friend is selling one; grab it.
  • There are many more kettlebell exercises than you might imagine. It can be well worth investing in a book or DVD demonstrating some of the basic moves.

Incidentally, if this has got you thinking about grabbing one for yourself, swing by the SttB Strength Store. Massive range.

Over to you. Drop us a line on Twitter ( @scottbird ), or add a comment below.



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Written By Scott Bird
Scott is a long-time fitness enthusiast (Jan 2004!), writer and photographer living in Sydney, Australia. If you share the passion for spending a bit of time under a bar, welcome. Love hearing how everyone else trains. You can connect via X (Formerly Twitter), Facebook and the various networks listed in the sidebar.
Drawing of Scott Andrew Bird performing a deadlift. Artwork by Vince Palko.