An Introduction To Kettlebells


What Are They

Kettlebells, are a piece of strength training equipment that has been around for decades.  Only recently have they become more mainstream.  Specifically, they are bowling/canon ball sized cast iron weight with a handle on top. Kettlebells range in weight depending on your needs.  


Kettlebells were originally used in rural Russia as a counterbalance for weighing grain.  Farmers (peasants) began using them for weight training and conditioning.  Then, over time, the Russian military started to use them.  From there Kettlebell popularity began to grow.

Many of the Kettlebell exercises resemble tradition weight lifting exercises but have developed their own subtle form differences. 


Today kettlebell training is regarded as a tool for all-round fitness and physical development. Kettle bell training focuses on functional, whole body fitness. This means movements we use everyday that involve many, if not all of our muscles.  Lifting and controlling a Kettle bell requires the entire body and is a great workout for building both strength and stability at the same time. 

Basic Exercises


There are possibly hundreds of exercises you can do with kettlebells but there are some basic movements that all Kettlebell beginners learn.

  1. Kettlebell Swings - Swings can be done double handed, single hand or by alternating hands.
  2. Kettlebell Clean - Bringing the Kettlebell to the rack position
  3. Kettlebell Press - Pushing the Kettlebell over your head.


This video on Youtube is an excellent introduction to Kettlebell basic exercises (soft style).  (Embedding is disallowed on the video so I can't show it on this website.  It is well worth watching)



If you are keen to try kettlebells your local gym may have some to try out.  Check your local area for a kettlebell class too.  Try to test out some kettlebell movements before you buy because Kettlebells can be expensive.

  • Kettlebells - If you have decided to take the plunge then all you really need are the kettlebells themselves.  This really isn't a sport that requires a lot of accessories.


Who Are You?                     Weight To Start With - Kg
A woman with no training background   -   -     -       6
A woman with a little training history   -   -     -       8
A strong woman   -   -     -       12
An average man   -   -     -       16
A stronger-than average man   -   -     -       20
A very strong man   -   -     -       24


Once you have a Kettlebell you will may need the following

  • Covered Shoes - for safety
  • Wrist bands - to stop your hands getting sweaty which helps you control the Kettlebell better


Types of Kettlebells


There are many different manafacturers of Kettlebells and therefire kettlebells in sorts of shapes, sizes and colours.  But generally speaking there are two main types.  One is used for general training and the other for competition.  Pro Grade Kettlebells (Picture on the right) are a standard size and dimension so that regardless of where you travel for competition you will be familiar with the kettlebell shape.  Standard kettlebells (Picture on the left) can vary in shape and size.


Where to buy your Kettlebells


I'm not in the business of promoting suppliers or trying to get affiliate sales so all I will say is two things.

1.  Buy quality.  You will be swinging a very heavy weight around and you can imagine the damage that would occur if the handle broke off mid swing.

2.  Shop around and do research on your local suppliers.



Try to find a local group that use kettlebells.   Martial arts clubs and Crossfit gyms like using Kettlebells.  Learning with others and getting to see proper technique first hand is an excellent way to learn.


Youtube is also an excellent place to go for video tutorials that focus on technique.  Look for videos by the following people - Steve Cotter (Soft Style), Pavel Tsatsouline and Neghar Fonooni (Hard Style).