Beginner's Guide To Kettlebells

Kettlebells are among the most useful pieces of equipment you can use to reach any fitness-related aspirations you have. There are a number of publications that will tell you a kettlebell is the single best piece of equipment one can own because of their versatility. However, knowing where to start as a beginner can feel overwhelming, mainly because there is a good chance you have never touched a kettlebell.  One of the exciting things about our business is that still on a daily basis, the most common questions that come in our chat box or over the phone are related to just starting out with kettlebells. This is exciting because even though bells have seen major popularity growth in recent years, there is still so much room for more people to learn the kettlebell and that excites us! We publish a lot of helpful content on our blog and still some of the most popular posts are related to kettlebell basics. This is a reminder that even though we are surrounded by them every day, not to take for granted that a lot of people are just starting their kettlebell journey.  If you are just starting out, don’t worry! Kettlebells offer excellent results and are helpful for anyone who wants to level up their body, regardless of your size, gender, and current fitness level. This guide will teach you the necessary information you should know about kettlebells to get your training started as soon as possible. 

First, what is a kettlebell?

You may have seen some people at your gym swinging around contraptions that look like a cannonball with a handle. These are kettlebells. They are very different from traditional dumbbells, and they require a lot of strength, power, and stability to maneuver because the center of mass on a kettlebell is different than dumbbells and barbells. The kettlebell has three primary components with which you should be familiar: 

  • The bell: The bell itself is shaped like a cannonball and comprises the majority of the weight you will be handling. Most are familiar with traditional bells made from iron, but vinyl and steel are also used. Steel kettlebells are used specifically for competitive use. 
  • The horns: The horns of the kettlebell extend at an angle from the bell and determine the left and right orientation. They create distance between the weight of the bell and your grip on the handle. Some exercises, like Goblet Squats, require you to hold the horns for optimal results. 
  • The handle: The handle runs straight across the top of the kettlebell. You should become familiar with the size of the handle and the grip required to hold it because it will be the cornerstone of many exercises you perform. One traditional iron kettlebells, the handle diameters usually change with the weight. On competition style kettlebells the handles are all the same diameter regardless of weight.
  • The Window: The window is the area in between the top of the kettlebell and the handle is the window. The window is where you insert your hands, wrist and forearm in the various kettlebell lifts. In iron kettlebells, the window will vary based on the weight of the kettlebell while in competition style kettlebells the window is the same size so that regardless of your training weight, the bell will always fit you the same way. 

It is important to remember that every kettlebell has the same parts, but there is a wide variation between different brands and models of kettlebells. As a beginner, you will need to find a kettlebell you feel comfortable gripping that provides a decent amount of resistance. A standard starting weight for men and women is 18-pounds (8-kg) for women and 35-pounds (16-kg) for men. The exact number you need will vary based on your current fitness level, age, and exercise goals. You can read more about which weights you can choose from here

What are the benefits of kettlebell training?

Even if someone regularly lifts weights at the gym using barbells or dumbbells, they may not be reaching the maximum level of strength and overall fitness they desire. Kettlebells are great for breaking up the monotony of workouts because of the limitless movements one is capable of with just one kettlebell. There are virtually infinite varieties of the kettlebell press alone. Depending on the weights you lift and the specific routine you choose, traditional lifting programs can lead to imbalances, so kettlebells make for a great addition to the workout plans you already follow. You can incorporate a kettlebell routine in any existing plans you follow. Additionally, kettlebells are actually designed for high repetition movements, unlike barbells. Although in a lot of modern workouts, barbells are used incorrectly for high repetition work. Kettlebells can be used for low rep strength building or for high repetition work designed to build muscle and cardio. It is common to develop strength without improving flexibility or balance. Kettlebell training from the beginning will help you avoid developing specific weaknesses and lead to improved mobility, strength, and cardiovascular health. In addition, kettlebells improve the following:

  • Coordination: One of the most important benefits of kettlebell training is the practice of coordination and balance. These are incredibly useful in daily life because mobility affects how we move throughout our day. The shape of the kettlebell encourages proper form and forces you to engage multiple muscle groups in order to complete your exercise. 
  • Power: Kettlebell workouts, especially ones that involve a lot of swings, incorporate explosive movements. Instead of being controlled and limited by the weight, you are in control of where the bell goes and how hard you push. Many kettlebell users report feeling confident and empowered after they exercise because of the power required to control the weight. Kettlebellls can help improve your strength in other lifts, from personal experience kettlebell swings will drastically improve your barbell deadlifting. You can read more about kettlebell movements to improve your power lifts here
  • Efficiency: Most people do not have the time to spend hours at the gym. That is why choosing a program that helps your whole body as efficiently as possible is important. Unlike many exercises, kettlebells are useful for both strength and cardio training. When you train with kettlebells, you will work up a sweat and strengthen multiple muscle groups at the same time. Kettlebell Kings publishes weekly workouts for free which you can learn more about and subscribe to here

These are just a few of the reasons kettlebells stand out as an excellent way to train. Whether you choose to incorporate kettlebells into your warm-up or you plan to make all of your training kettlebell-based, the benefits to your health will be worth the effort. 

Kettlebell Exercises for Beginners

A lot of the basic kettlebell movements incorporate strength building for your entire body. Examples of compound exercises like this include squats, deadlifts, presses, and dips. When your muscle groups work together, you can build strength and burn fat more quickly. Kettlebells are fantastic for traditional compound lifts, and they provide a cardio boost as well. Beginners should try to incorporate the following exercises into their routine: 

Goblet Squat

Squats are the number one full-body exercise if you want to work major muscle groups at once. They engage your core, glutes, and legs, and promote strength and coordination. Consider adding a press at the top if you want to add some shoulder work to this movement, 

  1. Place feet shoulder-width apart with your toes pointing forward. 
  2. Hold your kettlebell by the horns directly in front of your chest.
  3. Squat down as low as you can go with proper form. In this case, proper form means keeping your torso upright, knees behind your toes, and weight in your heels. 
  4. Start with ten repetitions. 

Squat tip: Someone should be able to read the writing on the front of your shirt the entire time you are squatting. 

Kettlebell Swings 

Swings are a movement unique to kettlebells and the reason many people choose to try kettlebell workouts in the first place. The intensity of kettlebell swings is ideal for working up a sweat while improving strength. 

  1. Place feet shoulder-width apart with your toes pointing forward.
  2. Hold your kettlebell by the handle with both hands. 
  3. Lower down into the starting position by allowing the kettlebell to hang between your legs, bending your knees, and hinging forward at the hips. 
  4. Use the power of your hips thrusting forward to bring the bell directly in front of your body with your arms straight out (think zombie's arms).
  5. Start with ten repetitions. 

Swing tip: Kettlebell swings are all about the explosive power that takes you from the bottom of the movement to the top.  You can watch an awesome detailed breakdown of the kettlebell swing here.

Ready to Begin?  

If you are interested in beginning or enhancing your fitness journey with kettlebells, Kettlebell Kings can help you get started. We offer a wide range of top-quality kettlebells for every fitness level. All of our products come with a lifetime guarantee because we are sure you will love the caliber of our equipment. When you buy one of our bells online, it can ship on the same day to the United States or Canada. Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you have about our products or kettlebells in general.