What Size Kettlebell is Right for Me?

different kettlebell sizes

Here is my guide on choosing the correct Kettlebell size:

  • Are you out of shape or older?
    Do you have little experience with weight training?
    A woman should probably start anywhere close to a 15 lb. size.
    Men should consider the 26 lb. (12 kg).
  • Are you in average to good shape?
    Do you have some experience in weight training?
    An average woman should start with an 18 pounder (8 kg).
    An average man should start with a 35 pounder (16 kg).
  • Are you in excellent shape?
    Are you experienced in weight training?
    A strong woman can start with a 26-pounder (12 kg). Most women will progress to a 35-pounder.
    A strong man can start with a 44-pounder (20 kg), but there is no shame in using a 35-pounder (16 kg). Most men progress to a 53-pounder (24 kg), the standard issue in the Russian military.

Kettlebell Starter Sizes Chart

Your Condition Sex Recommended Starting Kettlebell Size
Out of shape or older age Male 26 lb. (12 kg)
Female 15 lb. (6 kg)
Average or good shape Male 35 pounder (16 kg)
Female 18 pounder (8 kg)
Good shape, experienced in weight training Male 44-pounder (20 kg)
Female 26-pounder (12 kg)

An average man should start with a 35-pounder (16 kg). It does not sound like a lot but believe it; it feels a lot heavier than its weight suggests!” -— Pavel Tsatsouline, Enter The Kettlebell

To all tough guys:

A heavy kettlebell is not the best for learning proper form. Better to leave your ego at the door and err of the lighter side. Learn proper technique first and then move on to the heavier bells. I always ensure people that they will never outgrow their light kettlebells. There are many ways to use them. A small kettlebell becomes much harder in more advanced variations.

To all ladies:
Don’t start too light with a wimpy 8 or 10 pound kettlebell. I don’t even know why they sell those things. You need a little weight to load (feel) your muscles to learn the techniques properly. Believe me, if 15 pounds feels too heavy, it’s either because you have been an invalid for a long time or you haven’t yet learned how to handle weight properly. You’ll amaze yourself when you learn how to do it right. With all my clients, I try to avoid telling them how much the kettlebell weighs — until after they’re finished. Sometimes they are surprised at the weight they can handle when they’ve learned to do it correctly.

What to Look for in Kettlebell Design

1. A curved handle

The curve keeps the bell centered in the hand, not only protecting the wrist from undue stress but also improving the grip.

2. Handle wide enough to hold with two hands.

3. A smooth finish on the handle

Too much friction — or sharp places — and it can irritate or tear the skin of the hands. Some don’t care for the high-gloss, super-smooth finish (like DragonDoor’s Russian Reds) because it can get a little slippery when your hands sweat. I prefer the classic, black DragonDoor kettlebells that have a slight textured feel; not too smooth, not too rough.

4. A superior paint job

Which won’t easily chip (because they all chip!) exposing the underlying metal to the elements (rust!). There are many kettlebells out there that have that shiny, smooth look when they’re new but when they start getting some real use they will chip and crack because of the manufacturing process used.

5. A flat base

So the kettlebell can sit up without tilting onto the floor. Some kettlebell manufacturers put rubber bases on the bells, making them unstable and unsuitable for some exercises. And if you need to drop the kettlebell for safety reasons, the kettlebell may bounce unpredictably and hit you. However, the rubber base is easier on your floors!

6. Girya Sport or Competition Kettlebells

The tool of choice for those wishing to be competitive with their kettlebell lifting. Because they are exactly the same size as the weight increases, you develop flawless technique and program the nervous system to lift the bells into the exact same groove each time. For athletics and general fitness, this style kettlebell is NOT necessary.

Where to buy Kettlebells

I only use DragonDoor kettlebells. They are top-quality, classic Russian-style cast-iron kettlebells. These are the most expensive. I’ve never heard anyone complain about the QUALITY of DragonDoor kettlebells, only the price.

“The bitterness of low quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”
—– anonymous

Read also:

Equipment You Need For Kettlebell Training

Get in Shape with These 9 Must-Do Kettlebell Exercises

This compact, illustrated report will teach you, step by step, 9 critical Kettlebell exercises to burn fat and pack on lean muscle.