Kettlebell Workout – Getting the most out of your routine

Woman lifting kettlebell

If you’re new to working out with kettlebells, you may have some questions you’d like answered before you begin. Hopefully the questions and answers below will help you feel confident about starting a new kettlebell regimen.

Q: I’m new to kettlebell training – what weight should I get?

A: If you’re new to training with kettlebells, one of the biggest obstacles to getting started that you might face is knowing which weight to start with.

You should honestly assess your fitness level prior to beginning to train. It’s fine if you’re brand new to exercising, but you want to make sure you don’t overdo it with your weights. If you’re used to exercising, just not with kettlebells, you can probably go a little bit heavier than someone who is brand new. You do want to keep in mind, though, that even performing familiar moves with a kettlebell is going to feel different (and probably harder) than performing the same movement with a dumbbell.

Regardless of your fitness level, if you’re new to kettlebells, you do not want to start with a super heavy weight, as this will limit the exercises you’re able to perform, as well as put you at risk of injury if you’re unable to perform each rep with proper form. You’re better off going with a slightly lighter kettlebell and working up to being able to do more reps, than starting with a weight that is too heavy to be used safely and correctly.

If you have access to a facility with kettlebells, it would be a good idea to try using a few of those to figure out a weight that seems appropriate. You should also keep in mind that appropriate weights will vary greatly depending on the exercise and muscle group that you’re working. While it would be ideal to have a variety of kettlebells at your disposal, if that’s not feasible for you, you’ll want to select a moderate weight that will allow you to perform as wide a variety of exercises as possible. This may mean that the weight is on the light side when you’re doing squats or other large muscle group movements, but this weight will also allow you to safely perform exercises for smaller, upper body muscles, as well.

If you have no idea where to even begin picking a kettlebell weight, a starting point for men is a 35lb kettlebell and 15lb for women. Mind you, this is only a starting point – in no way does this mean you must begin with this weight. This should be used as a jumping off point to determine an appropriate weight for you as an individual. If you think “oh that sounds really heavy” or “that seems so easy”, then you should feel free to adjust your weight accordingly.

And remember, just because you start with a certain weight doesn’t mean you have to use that weight forever. As you learn exercise technique and gain strength, you’ll likely want to increase the weight of your kettlebell to ensure your workouts are still challenging.

Q: Should I start off with a single or is double kettlebell training better?

A: If you’re new to training with kettlebells, you may have questions about when to train with one and when to train with two. Both options can provide you with a great & challenging workout, so you can’t go wrong with whichever you choose.

If you’re purchasing kettlebells for yourself to use at home, one thing you’ll want to think about is how much money you’re willing/able to spend. If you’re working with a limited budget, you may find it more cost effective to purchase one kettlebell initially, as you can get started with that and always add to your collection in the future. If money is not an issue, then you will not have to make this consideration.

In addition, depending on your fitness level, it can be a good idea to start with a single kettlebell to build some initial strength before moving onto movements that require two kettlebells. With a single, heavier kettlebell, you’ll be able to perform moves such as the Swing and the Goblet Squat, both of which require total body muscle recruitment, which means you’ll be getting a lot of bang for your buck. In addition, this will help you build the core & overall strength that you’ll need to perform smaller, more specialized exercises.

If you already have a relatively good base of strength and are looking to work on some specific areas. In this case, you may be more interested in two kettlebells. For example, one benefit of using two kettlebells is that each arm will be working independent of one another, which means that your non-dominant side will have to carry its own weight and not rely on your dominant arm to pick up the slack. This can be a good way to address and start to correct imbalances.

There are many exercises that can be performed with either one or two kettlebells. For example, if you only have access to one kettlebell, you could perform a Goblet Squat, holding it between both of your hands. However, if you have two, lighter kettlebells, you could hold them in the rack position on either side and squat like that. In addition, while a single, heavy kettlebell may most often be used for the Swing, you can also perform it with one, lighter kettlebell in each hand.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to get a great workout with either one or two kettlebells, so it really comes down to your personal preference and budget.

Q: What type of clothing and shoes should I wear?

A: Working out with kettlebells does not require any special shoes or clothing, but here are some guidelines that will help you get the most out of your workout:

1) While you do want to be comfortable during your workout, you don’t want your clothing to get in the way or put you at risk of an accident or injury. You don’t want your clothing to interfere with your exercise or range of motion – if your clothing is too baggy, it can get caught up in your kettlebell when you’re moving or prevent you from being able to see what you’re doing. Conversely, if it’s too tight, it can restrict your range of motion or make you perform an exercise incorrectly to avoid clothing-related discomfort. Make sure what you’re wearing is fitted but not restrictive.

2) As for shoes, your best bet is a pair of flat sneakers with thin soles like a classic tennis shoe, the New Balance Flexonic is a good example. Unlike with running, where you want a thick heel to absorb shock, when working with kettlebells, you want flat shoes to help you keep your weight back on your heels to maximize hamstring and glute involvement. In addition, a thin sole will help you feel more grounded and stable. This feeling of stability will help you work out safer & more efficiently.

3) If you don’t have a pair of appropriate workout shoes, you can train barefoot. Of course, you want to be careful to not drop a kettlebell on your toes, but if new training shoes aren’t in your budget or you prefer your feet to have direct contact with the floor, this is a fine option.

4) Remember not to create more obstacles to exercise than are legitimate. Chances are you already have something in your wardrobe that you can wear to exercise. Don’t feel like you have to spend a lot of money on a new outfit or shoes just to begin training with kettlebells. The point is that you get up and get moving, not that you look like you walked out of a catalog while doing it!

Hopefully some of your questions have been answered and you’re feeling ready to get started! Remember to relax and have fun!

A kettlebell workout may look easy, but they sure do pack a punch. Most Kettlebells are made of heavy metal and are either painted or covered with a rubbery plastic coating. Purchasing the correct size is the first step towards toning and strengthening your body. If your goal is to become more active or lose weight then starting a Kettlebell training program is a great way to start!