What weight of kettlebell should I buy?
The problem with buying a single piece of strength equipment like a set of dumbbells or a kettlebell is that different moves call for different resistance amounts. One of the main selling points of a kettlebell is that it’s such a diverse piece of equipment but to really maximize its use, you want to choose a single weight that delivers the most bang for your buck.
When thinking about what weight will be most useful, it’s better to go a little heavier, San Diego-based trainer Pete McCall, CSCS, host of the All About Fitness podcast, told Insider. “Kettlebells are often used for exercises like swings and goblet squats, and for these lower body movements, heavier is better,” he said.
Heavier kettlebells actually force you to use better form and technique, too. “Going too light could lead to ‘cheating’ during the lift which, in turn, could result in injury,” he said.
If you’re going light, McCall advised looking for a competition-style kettlebell. “With traditional kettlebells, as the weight gets lighter, the handle gets smaller,” he explained.
But competition-style bells have more room between the bell and the handle, which can be a lot easier to grip, especially for those not used to the equipment.
What kind of workouts can you use a kettlebell for?
R.J. Cincotta provided some professional perspective on the importance of kettlebells, and although most Orangetheory gyms don’t use kettlebells, he was able to speak to Insider based on his own extensive fitness experience.
“Kettlebells are best used for power movements,” Cincotta said. “You’re going to use them for squats and swings, and you’ll use them for a lot of single-sided exercises often referred to as asymmetrical movements. You can even use kettlebells for stability work as well.”
What makes a kettlebell harder to use than a dumbbell lies in its shape, which puts the weight several inches away from your hand. This means you’ll need to activate more of your muscles as you stabilize the weight. With a kettlebell, every single-handed exercise like curls, shoulder presses, snatches, and so on is that much more productive.
And for two-handed exercises like goblet squats, the grip shape means added stability so you can focus on your form, as well as your core, glutes, quads, and other muscles.
Is there a significant injury risk with buying a kettlebell that’s too heavy?
The answer to this is both yes and no. Using a heavier kettlebell will lead to more results because you’ll have to work harder to move it and therefore use more muscle. Keep in mind, however, that “heavier” is entirely relative. As Cincotta mentioned (and any trainer will tell you), a weight above your strength level is the fast track to injury.
Generally, the best way to choose a weight is to borrow a friend’s or pop into your local sporting goods store and see what feels comfortable for moves …….