Fitness Articles

The Iron Truth about Kettlebell Training

Find Out If This Fitness Trend Is Right for You


Because kettlebell lifts are more subtle than traditional weight training exercises, it takes coordination and kinesthetic (body) awareness to perfect the exercises. A single exercise consists of multiple joints and muscle groups moving simultaneously, often in ways that are new and unfamiliar to most people. And because the movements are different than traditional strength exercises, they take practice—and professional attention—to master. When done wrong, there is more risk than just dropping the weight on your toes or bumping yourself, as Scott alludes to. Bad form could seriously injure your joints, neck, back and spine. The bottom line is to be safe—and learn how to use kettlebells from the pros.

Marshall couldn't agree more. He also recommends seeking advice from a certified trainer before even picking up a kettlebell on your own. A kettlebell instructor will teach you how to move correctly, he says. "Through correct movement comes an intrinsic action in which your mind becomes one with the movement, so that you no longer think about the action," he explains in a very Zen-like way. "Similar to riding a bike, once you learn you never forget."

How much do kettlebells weigh and where do you get them?
There are kettlebells from two pounds to 106 pounds and beyond, according to Marshall. Naturally, you should start with a lower weight until your skills improve enough to try a higher weight without risk. Men usually start with a kettlebell that weighs between 25 and 35 pounds, while women tend to begin with a 12 to 26 pound kettlebell, depending on their fitness level. Scott says that lighter kettlebells are not recommended for most people. "It is necessary to have a kettlebell that's heavy enough to engage your hamstrings and glutes during the swing, the most basic kettlebell exercise." Even though smaller kettlebells exist, even in the five to 10 pound range, these would be "totally inappropriate" for many exercises, according to Scott. Although it seems counterintuitive, a weight that is too light may encourage improper form. But more importantly, you'll derive little to no benefit from using such a lightweight kettlebell.

It's challenging for a novice to pick out a high-quality and comfortable kettlebell since they often don't know what to look for. "There are a lot of companies making cheap kettlebells, and they either have a weird handle shape or rough handles," says Scott, who once bought a cheap kettlebell from Craigslist that badly tore up her hands. She recommends that you look for a kettlebell that is smooth and basically feels good in your hand. For clients who have been using kettlebells in a group or private training setting for a while, it's easier to find the right fit since they know from their instructor what "feels right." So once you have some experience using them, comfort, shape and fit is important in selecting kettlebells for at-home use.
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

Member Comments

  • I have used them and don't like them. It's too easy for them to bounce off your hands or wrists and bruise you. I can hold a dumbbell and do the same thing. - 9/15/2015 2:58:55 PM
  • I find the kettlebell lighter than the normal weight - is that right? - 9/11/2015 3:29:35 PM
  • I agree fully that you NEED to work with a certified trainer to learn the basics. I've also watched reputable trainers on youtube who are not certified and they're teaching the technique incorrectly! - 9/8/2015 10:52:53 AM
  • I think the idea that you can't learn how to use Kettlebells from YouTube or a DVD is just silly. I found IzzyBarish on his channel seven years ago and have learned so much from him. Of course, Pavel's From Russia is the expert and then there is Steve Cotter. I trust them teaching Kettlebells well over some kid in a local gym who says he has some certificate. - 9/8/2015 8:22:13 AM
  • I'm just wondering does it have to be the iron kettlebells? I've seen other types like hard plastic and wonder if these would work just as well as the iron KB. I've been doing some Kelly-Coffey Meyer workouts and she says we can use hand weights if we don't have KB, but I would like to try KB.
    - 6/29/2015 10:23:45 PM
  • I started with kettlebells a few years ago and got mine through My sister recently bought a 15lb one at (Gold's Gym kettlebell) for about $25 and she loves it. I will be getting her the 25lb one for $40 for her birthday. It is singly the best workout I have ever done. I use many workout dvd's but the 2 best ones I have found are from - the Kettlebell Goddess Workout with Andrea DuCane Senior RKC and Pavel's From Russia with Tough Love Kettlebell Workout for a Femme Fatale. Kick butt and takes no names!!! - 6/15/2015 9:57:46 AM
  • MBOND8
    Beefcake3D is a great kettlebell & dumbbell workout / exercise / fitness app for tablets.

    For iPad:
    For Android: http://play.googl
    z.beefcake3d - 10/20/2014 10:56:28 AM
  • This site is the only place that I've encountered kettlebells. - 8/8/2014 6:50:53 AM
  • I didn't think I'd really be able to do kettlebells, but I had a kind, patient instructor that really worked with me. He didn't make me feel wimpy for starting out with tiny, lightweight kettlebells. Shop for your instructor and don't be afraid to tell them if you need clarification. - 8/7/2014 3:17:42 PM
  • I've been doing kettlebells for a short time now and love it. It is a great workout and can be as challenging as you need. Currently I have two 16 kg, a 24 kg, and a 32 kg. I got into them through a friend who is associated with StrongFirst. www.strongfirst.c
    om I didn't see it listed in the article and thought I'd post it in case anyone is looking for an instructor, they are all over the country. - 7/12/2014 1:59:45 PM
  • I'm not coordinated enough to use a kettleball. I'd probably injure myself. - 6/30/2014 10:25:19 AM
  • I would love to take a class, but I have knee issues and am concerned that I will hurt more than when I do squats. - 6/23/2014 8:44:09 PM
  • For those complaining about cost, try these kettle bells available through Amazon (free shipping for prime members). GoFit Contoured Single Vinyl Coated Kettlebell are easier on the arm and cost less that the recommended sites. The vinyl coating saves your floors. 35 lb bell is around 65 dollars and the 25 lb bell is around 56 dollars. Works like a regular kettle bell, but the concave surface rests better against the foreare. - 6/19/2014 4:16:15 PM
  • I had a personal trainer who loved them, but I kept getting nasty bruises from where they hit my arms. After reading this, maybe he wasn't a good trainer for kettleballs. - 6/3/2014 3:30:56 PM
  • I started using one a couple years ago. I bought it at wal mart, It came with a dvd. it was around 12-20. so it does not have to be expensive. I totally love it. I feel like I am getting a good quick workout. - 5/28/2014 3:48:59 AM

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