Beginners guide to buying your first kettlebell

Before you begin training you will need to get your hands on some good quality kettlebells, there is a lot of variations in designs, types and weights of kettlebells. Read this page in full so that you get complete knowledge on exactly what you need to buy, before making a silly purchase you might regret.

There are two main categories of kettlebells

  1. Professional grade steel kettlebells
  2. Standard cast iron kettlebells.

20kg and 28kg steel competition kettlebell

 

32kg, 24kg and 16kg standard cast iron kettlebells

Other than the material difference between these two kettlebells, they also vary in size and the finish of the handle.

  • Competition kettlebells are the same size for all weights, the lighter weights are hollow to make up the size
  • Competition kettlebells have a bare steel finish which rolls better in your hands, essential for big lifts like the snatch
  • Competition kettlebells fit specified size criteria and handle shape, thickness and width
  • Standard kettlebells are are made from solid cast iron, therefore the heavier bells are larger
  • Standard kettlebells have a painted finish, and the metal is not as smooth as the competition grade bells
  • Sometimes the hand shape, thickness and width varies between sizes and between manufacturers.

 More on competition grade kettlebells

From the image above you can see that the 20kg and 28kg are more or less exactly the same in size, the size is actually consistent from 8kg to 48kg. Not only are they the same size, but the shape of the bell and handle are exactly the same.

They’re manufactured to meet the exact criteria because they are used for sport, and competitions, therefore it’s essential that athletes train using the exact same size bells, so they are able to travel and compete using the same equipment wherever the competition is held.

This is why equipment in all sports is standardised and kettlebell training is no different. Standardisation allows you to practice using the same dimension kettlebells, so your body can get used to the shape of the bell. For exercises like the kettlebell press, snatch and clean you need to position your body in a certain way to perform the lift. So the size and shape of the bell effects how your move your body. This makes it essential to have consistent sizes for kettlebell athletes.

However it’s important to bear in mind that competition kettlebells are not necessary for hobby lifters, and given that competition kettlebells are more expensive, it’s preferable to get the standard kettlebells.

The bottom line

Unlike the fitness equipment you currently have at home. The kettlebell has no moving parts, it will last for hundreds of years. If you are serious about lifting and getting fit, then get the best kettlebells that you can afford. The dragon door standard grade kettlebells have the best finish by far and I would highly recommend them. They will last a very long time as well. I’ve kept mine in my outdoor garden gym and they’re still going strong 2 years running.

Weight selection

The chart below indicates some rough kettlebell weight guidelines. Ideally you will need 3 weights, the heaviest will be for the swing, the lightest will be for the press, and the medium will be for the snatch.

Bear in mind that unlike body-building you will not outgrow these weights for years, kettlebell lifting is for endurance, not strength. Therefore you can use the same kettlebell for other exercises or just for more repetitions.

The weight below is a guideline for the “medium intensity lift” like the snatch. Add more weight for the swing, and reduce weight for the press.

Men Women
Below average fitness level 12-16kg 8-12kg
Average fitness level 16-20kg 12-16kg
Good fitness level 20-24kg 16-20kg

Best standard kettlebell package for men

32kg, 24kg and 16kg standard cast iron kettlebells

Best standard kettlebell for women

Ideal kettlebell for women 10kg (cardio/fat loss focus)

Get the dragondoor mens kettlebell package

Get the 10kg womens kettlebell

18 comments to Beginners guide to buying your first kettlebell

  • Steve

    I’m just getting into kettlebells. Thanks for the great info! There’s way more to using them I thought. I like your idea of an outdoors garden gym. Very cool idea!

    All the best, Steve.

  • Terry c Travinsky

    Very nice.

  • Terry c Travinsky

    very nice.Just thinking about going this route for weight reduction on my belly.hanks,Terry

  • arun

    Great Article..i am planning to buy my very first kettlebell & this article has eased my burden of choice. I think i will invest in the standard kettlebells which are way cheaper in my country.

    Thank you sir!

  • Lennart

    Good article, thanks! I recently bought my first 16kg bell from a local sporting goods company and the first time it fell to the floor the handle broke off. Needless to say I’m treating the replacement I got like a glass bell… So I’m looking for Scandinavian suppliers of steel bells now. Hope someone will comment about that. :)

    • Karim

      Unfortunately there are many cheap kettlebells on the internet that will not stand the test of time. You’re lucky to get away without injuring yourself. Had the ball fallen on your foot it would be a totally different story.

  • Bev Eden

    i have recently purchased a low weight kettlebell and have done a couple of exercises with small reps for practice and can already feel the difference – thank you for your guide it is excellent

  • Louay

    Hi, do you know if there are any UK suppliers for the Dragondoor kettlebells, because buying from US will cost mucho dinero in terms of shipping etc? Thanks.

    • Karim (admin)

      Unfortunately not, dragon door ship from USA only, I understand that shipping might be expensive in this case. Try and get used dragon door bells from someone or buy competition grade kettlebells, they might be cheaper as shipping will cost less.

  • James Pond

    Thanks for the advice on purchasing bells. Dragon Door is a great brand, but you do ‘pay’ for the name. There are other great brands. I have three Cap Kettle Bells that have lasted for the past three years without a single issue. I recently invested in heavier bells – 55 and 70 lb, which I got through Body Solid. They are really well made and I got them ‘shipping free’ through Amazon…bells are expensive and with some common sense and care will last a lifetime!

  • Imran

    hey AK
    thanx for the info…this is great gave my 3 months to look like a Calvin Klein Model…lol

    seriously started my first work out at the gym..feels totally different than pushing weights..totally intense

    thanx for all the info

  • Weylin

    I purchased a 15-lb Pro-Form brand of kettlebell at a USAF Exchange. It’s cast iron with a rubber coating on the main body but not the handle. I hope I made a good purchase. Time will tell.

  • Rach

    12-16kg for a female for average fitness?!?! That’s high! I know women who are really fit and struggle with 8kg! Jeeeez. Overall tho kettlebells…best workout ever..love it :)

    • Karim (admin)

      Hi Rach, I’m referring to the swing of course, the swing allows you to use heavier kettlebells because it utilises several large muscle groups. For other exercises like the press you would need to use a lot less.

  • julie

    I consider myself to be average fitness, preferring to do resistance to cardio training, so i do the required amount of cardio daily but spend more time on the weights, I bought myself a set of bells 8 12 and 16k, I have just recently started working out with them and find that 12k is good for swings and deadlifts but I have to drop to 8k for snatch press and windmills.

    I am finding it hard to accept that I am doing enough in my kettlebell workout circuit because i am not spending as long at it as i would on my weight workouts. I know about the posterior chain working and i am wiped out after aprox 30mins but still feel as if i am cheating on my workout. But i will give it some time and hopefully will see the results. Love my bells i do

  • Amanda

    What do you think of the Body Solid Kettlebells?

  • Art

    Turkish Getups, when on the reverse, are hard on my knees.
    I am trying to descend more carefully as doing the TGUs properly can yield such good results.

  • Roger

    I’ve got two large kettleBALLS… would love to swing… I think I love the snatch.

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