The kettlebell is an ancient Weapon Of Fat Destruction. There’s not a whole lot to describing it. It looks like a cannonball with a handle on top.
You’ll see lots of articles associating its origin with Russia but it actually originated in Greece and came to Russia at the beginning of the 18th century.
The Russian term for the kettlebell is girya. Pronounced jeer-ee-a. The word comes from the Persian adjective “gerani”, which means “difficult”. There’s a similar word, “gur” from ancient Slavic languages that means bubble. Notice the similarity between the kettlebell and the word bubble? So, if you combine those I guess you get “difficult bubble”.
In the ancient Greek Olympics they used stones that kind of resembled kettlebells for strength competition events.
When the kettle bell came to Russia it was first used as a weight in the weighing of grains and other stuff. And much like our modern day lumber jack games it became an event in festivals and celebrations all across the country.
They really started becoming popular in Russia in the 1940’s when in 1948 20,000 athletes showed up for the First Nationwide Festival of Strongmen.
The cool thing about kettlebells is that so many kettlebell exercises work your entire body while at the same time strengthening your core. So, because of its peculiar shape, the weight is not evenly distributed like on a dumbbell. That forces your core muscles to counter balance to stabilize your entire body and give you that extra benefit without even trying.
You’ll see kettlebells from 5 lbs. up to a little over 100 lbs. So the question becomes… what weight should I start off with?
Since you’ll get the most benefit from proper technique, it’s best that you start off with a weight that’s a little bit lighter than a little bit heavier. Kettlebell exercises use higher repetitions. You’ll soon find out that a weight you thought was not so heavy is much heavier after a number of swings or cleans and presses.
Okay. I know I haven’t answered the question so here goes… If you’re a wo-man… and not in the best shape, I’d say start with around 10 lbs. or 4 kg. Now because it’s such a good value, you should also consider the Women’s Beginner Package of 3 kettlebells including a 10, 16 and 26 lb.
For men, I see a lot of folks recommending you start with 35 lbs. or 16 kg. Now, I’m 5 ft. 8 in. tall and around 165 lbs. and over 50 yrs. young. When I started using kettlebells I would say that I was at an advanced level of fitness. But the thing is… kettle bells are different. I’m tellin’ ya. They’re D-I-F-F-E-R-E-N-T. The uneven weight distribution makes them feel a little heavier. So I started out with a 20 lb or 9 kg kettlebell. And boy was I glad I did.
I was able to master the proper technique for the various kettlebell exercises and got me one heckuva workout while learning. I still use those 20 pounders but I’ve advanced to higher weights depending on the exercise.
Now, if you’re a big ole boy and in pretty good shape… you may want to start off closer to that 35 lb. number. But just remember, it’s ALL about TECHNIQUE.