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What Size Kettlebell Weights Should You Use

By Greg Brookes
What Size Kettlebell Should You Use

One of the most popular questions I get asked is: What size kettlebell weights should I buy or what is the best kettlebell weight for beginners?

In this quick guide to kettlebell weight selection I’ll show you which kettlebell weights you should start with and exactly how many kettlebells you’ll need in the future.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that kettlebells are used the same as dumbbells and therefore the weights must be the same.

Watch this video on the best starting weight for kettlebell training

All kettlebell exercises are based on full body movements so unlike dumbbell training there are no isolation based exercises like bicep curls or tricep extensions.

Kettlebell exercises use 100’s of muscles at a time meaning you are able to lift more weight but also condition the body quicker.

Let me explain…

The kettlebell swing is the most fundamental of all the kettlebell exercises and the one exercise that everyone should master first.

The Kettlebell Swing delivers the most amount of results in the least amount of time

The Kettlebell Swing is based on our strongest movement pattern: the Deadlift (see image below).

Kettlebell Single Arm Deadlift
Kettlebell Single Arm Deadlift

Whenever you pick something up from the floor you are using the deadlift movement pattern.

So in terms of kettlebell training you should start with this basic movement pattern  before moving on to the kettlebell swing once it’s mastered.

Related: 7 Kettlebell Deadlift Variations

Related: 4 Steps to Master the Kettlebell Swing for Beginners

So what does all this mean?

Well, if you start kettlebell training by mastering the strongest movement pattern, the deadlift, then it makes no sense to start with a light kettlebell. A light kettlebell will not challenge your full body especially not your powerful hips and legs.

So don’t make the common mistake of purchasing a kettlebell to use like a dumbbell and just perform dumbbell type exercises.

Purchase a heavier kettlebell and learn to perform the exercises and movements that make kettlebell training so effective.

Related: 52 Kettlebell Exercises to Try Right Now

Kettlebell Sizes

Kettlebells are traditionally available in the following sizes and classified in poods, a Russian weight measurement:

  • 8kg (0.5 Pood)
  • 12kg
  • 16kg (1 Pood)
  • 24kg
  • 32kg (2 Pood)

Due to the popular growth of kettlebell training, many kettlebell manufacturers have started offering in-between sizes to help bridge the gap between weights. The 20kg kettlebell and 28kg are excellent to help progress from one traditional size to the next.

What weight kettlebell should a woman use?

The perfect kettlebell weight for women to start with an 8kg (15lbs) or for those with weight training experience a 12kg (25lbs).

Later you will progress to a 16kg (35lbs). Often when ladies pick up an 8kg (15lbs) they say “it’s way too heavy” and “I can’t exercise with that!“.

If you think 8kg (15lbs) is too heavy then you are performing the wrong exercises.

Remember you should start with those big strong exercises using the deadlift movement patterns for the best results.

Trust me, I’ve never trained a lady who has started on anything lower than an 8kg (15lbs) kettlebell.

Women will drag suitcases, carry shopping bags or hold children under one arm, you are stronger than you think,  so start with at least an 8kg (15lbs).

RelatedComplete Guide to Buying Kettlebells and 7 Types to Avoid

What weight kettlebell should a man use?

Men should begin with a 12kg (25lbs) or 16kg (35lbs) for those with weight training experience.

Later you will progress to a 20kg or 24kg (53lbs).

I have trained men using kettlebells above 24kg (53lbs) but for the majority of your basics this is as heavy as you will need to go.

best kettlebell starting weights

RelatedWhat kettlebell weights to use for different kettlebell exercises

How many kettlebells do you need?

It is possible by changing exercises and increasing the difficulty of movements to only ever need one kettlebell if you make the correct purchase to begin with.

However, you are stronger during two handed exercises and exercises that use mostly your legs and hips so having 2 – 3 kettlebells will greatly increase your ability to scale up and down your exercises.

  • Women ultimately will need 3 kettlebells – 8kg, 12kg and 16kg.
  • Men will ultimately need 3 kettlebells too – 12kg, 16kg, and 24kg.

With a collection of 3 kettlebells you can practice different exercises, for example at intermediate level:

  • Two Handed Kettlebell Swing weight – Women 16kg (35lbs), Men 24kg (53lbs)
  • One Handed Kettlebell Swing weight – Women 12kg (25lbs), Men 16kg (35lbs)
  • Turkish Get Ups, Windmills, Bottoms Up Clean weight- Women 8kg (15lbs), Men 12kg (25lbs)
Kettlebell Swing Two Hands
Kettlebell Swing Two Hands

Conclusion to what size kettlebell to use

In all my 12+ years of teaching kettlebell classes I’ve only ever used 8kg (15lbs), 12kg (25lbs), 16kg (35lbs), 20kg, 24kg (53lbs) and 32kg kettlebells.

Kettlebell training is different from Dumbbell training so you should not make your decision on what weight to use based on dumbbell type exercises.

Complete Guide to Buying Kettlebells and 7 Types to Avoid

Take care and happy kettlebell training.


52 Kettlebell Exercises Download PDF


What weight kettlebell should a woman use?

Most women will start their kettlebell journey with an 8kg (17lbs) and progress to a 12kg (25lbs) relatively quickly. Once the basics are mastered, the sky’s the limit.

What is the best kettlebell weight for men?

Most male beginners will start with either a 12kg (25lbs) or a 16kg (35lbs) depending on their weight training background. Soon you will need a 20kg or 24kg for many two handed exercises.

What is a good kettlebell swing weight?

As the kettlebell swing uses the powerful muscles of the hips, butt and legs most men with start using a 16kg (35lbs) and women a 12kg (25lbs) for the two handed swing. These weights will soon be increased with regular practice.

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    1. James Bond Avatar
      James Bond

      Best article I’ve seen on the subject..

    2. Sammy Avatar

      Great read, thank you!
      I am already very active and regularly use a pair of 10kg dumbells for compound moves and high rep isolations, based on the differences would you still recommend starting with a 12kg as a female or would it be wise to go straight for a 16? (unfortunately I can’t quite afford both). Thank you.

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        I’d start with a 12kg Sammy due to the more dynamic movements used in kettlebell training.

    3. EJH Avatar

      Hi Greg. This article is really useful. I started using kettlebells about eight months ago and have been using a 10kg weight. I would like to progress but they’re so expensive I don’t want to buy the wrong weight. Would you recommend a 14 or 16kg for my next weight? I am tall and slim and would like to build lean muscle and increase strength, especially in my lower body. Thank you.

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Hello, If you have weight training experience then I’d recommend the 16kg.

    4. Ronald Avatar

      Wondering when you said all the kettlebell weights you used in 12 years teaching.. Any reason you did not find the use for the 28kg kettlebell?

    5. Susanna Faygenbaum Avatar
      Susanna Faygenbaum

      since the pandemic everything is sold out and as a woman I cant find 8kb kettlebell. Is using 10 kb kettlebell ok? for first timers or that would be too much weight for me as a start. thank you?

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        A 10kg kettlebell would be OK for many beginner exercises including the single arm deadlift and goblet squat. You will certainly grow into this weight quickly.

    6. Ralph Riley Avatar
      Ralph Riley

      I am very interested in your programs! I am 67, been a corporate “desk-ranger” for most of my life. I went on a diet, lost 80 pounds and have been doing some serious resistance band training to begin to get in shape. Regarding the KB weights: I assume that I can start low and master the beginner exercises over a couple of months to strength everything (especially connective tissue) and then go back with a heavier KB – is that what you would do at my age? I just don’t want to get injured and not be able to exercise and move forward in this effort. A slower and longer “start-up” seems to be the best path – but I don’t know. Can you give me your thoughts?

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Yes you are exactly right Ralph, you can start gradually with these 5 beginners exercises and follow along workouts.

    7. Manisha Pradhan Avatar
      Manisha Pradhan

      Hi Greg ,I am profusely thankful to you and your workouts..they are interesting and I look forward to doing those exercises.Thanks once again.

    8. michael may Avatar

      Hi Greg
      Thanks for the great tips. I went with the set of 15/25/35/50 to cover myself and my wife. The ones you suggest get great reviews on Amazon.

      Just curious – what are your thoughts on using them with a vibration table?

      Many thanks


      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        I personally think vibration tables can be ok for working on stabilising joints during static exercises like planks for example. However, for kettlebell training there is already a lot of moving parts so I’d just focus on a nice steady floor to begin with.

    9. Melissa Rudy Avatar

      Hi Greg,

      I’m a writer for SparkPeople.com. I’m working on an article about kettlebell moves. I was wondering if it would be okay for me to quote you in the article if I include a link back to your website?

      Many thanks,
      Melissa Rudy

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Sure thing Melissa, anything I can do to help just let me know.

    10. Alberto Avatar

      Hi Greg
      Allways a lot of good tips and explanation video.
      Start using kettlebell from a couple of years and i really like training using 10 and 16 kg kettlebell. Thanx

    11. Derek Mortimer Avatar
      Derek Mortimer

      I am 78 and have been using KGB for about six months, what sort of weights should I use?

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        I’ve listed my suggestions above Derek.

        1. tracey Avatar

          is it ok to go heavier than 35lbs for the swing

          1. Greg Brookes Avatar

            Sure Tracey, if your technique is spot on