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Which kettlebell should a woman start with [Article]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Jan 1, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Which kettlebell should a woman start with

Which kettlebell should a woman start with

This is a valid question which I also asked myself when starting out in the gym again in my late twenties after doing nothing for eight years and getting a belly. For women, the starting weights range from 8kg to 16kg depending on several factors which will be discussed in this article. Kettlebell training is fun, makes you strong and rounds your butt. All good things if you ask me.

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The question lacks context

If you follow my blog on a regular basis you will see that I often open up with this paragraph. I found that when you browse the different platforms and blogs on the internet there are a lot of assumptions in the mix as the ones who post questions do not provide a lot of context. This is also why you have to fill out such long forms when you apply for your taxes. The authorities need your context. Fortunately for fitness, it is a bit easier. 
The question "Which kettlebell weight should a woman start with" is already better than "Which kettlebell set should I buy". At least I can conveniently assume that you are a woman or intending to advise a woman on their exercise regimen and/or purchase of kettlebells
Whenever it comes to weight training the following points should be considered
  • Age
  • Weight
  • Fitness level
  • Goal set for training
as this is an Article focusing on women you will be walked through the details of these questions in regards to female requirements for the kettlebell.

Who are you 

Based on who you are your context changes for using kettlebells. Generally, the older, less fit and lighter you the lighter the kettlebell should be that you start with. In some cases, especially when you have not exercised for a long time or have chronical exercises, you might not do kettlebell training at all for a certain period of time. Always consult with your doctor or therapist who knows your record for recommendations
Age influences how our body functions and what we can take. Up until 30, recovery times are relatively quick when it comes to injuries and exercise. This slows for most people in their thirties to then significantly drop after forty. Regular workouts can help to counteract this trend, but not stop it. The longer you have lived an unhealthy lifestyle with bad habits like smoking, unbalanced diet and no exercising and the older you are the more likely it becomes that you should opt for lighter kettlebells to start with. The younger and more well fed and active you are the more likely it becomes that you will start with a heavier weight. Apart from the size of the kettlebell your own mass also plays a role.
The bigger you are the more leverage you have to move a kettlebell. This is based on physics. If you weigh 100kg an 8kg kettlebell does not do a lot for you. Your mass is too much to get the benefit of the exercising tool. If you are a woman weighing 100kg it is safe to say that you are obese by medical standards. In this look into more moderate ways of exercising to get started and work on your diet. Once you have formed new habits of regular exercising and better food choices enter into a mode of learning basic movement patterns like the air squat, push-ups on your knees, knee ups and other exercises. Bikinibodymommy should work, just take it slow as you might get knee problems if you start too fast too much as the emphasis is on speed. As we are talking about fitness programs next on the list is your fitness level.
Weight and age play into your fitness level, however, if you have been active all your life and an athlete in your teenage years you have an advantage. With years of weight training under your belt, you might start with a higher weight. Be aware that especially with years of strength training you might overestimate what you can move on the kettlebell swing. Generally, though, women underestimate their strength and can go one kettlebell up from what they can handle. So if you think you will use an 8kg, maybe move to 12kg instead. With men, this trend is reversed.
Another factor to consider is what type of training you want to do. Is your focus on strength or fat loss. For fat loss, you usually want to do more repetitions than for strength. Your choice of starting weight should reflect this. For strength, you work between 3 to 10 repetitions whereas for fat loss you work with 8 - 20 repetitions per set.
The available time to train is also something to consider. If you train more, you are likely to progress quicker. If you can only buy one kettlebell err on the side of the heavier kettlebell in this case as otherwise, you might have to buy another in 90 days time as you have outgrown the first one. This type of thinking is more suited to fitter women than unfit women. For the latt, r it is all about building confidence and better habits. Go for something which makes you feel good every day.

What is your budget

Based on your budget you will decide which kettlebells to get. Kettlebells range from anywhere from 20 to 500 a pop based on what size you get. For beginners, the price per iron will be more likely be under 100. Where it gets more interesting is regarding the decision to buy a set or a single kettlebell. 
Double kettlebells of the same weight are not really needed. If someone introduces you to kettlebell training with two kettlebells as a starter, run. They have no clue what they are doing. The swing is complex enough to teach with just one kettlebell, never mind the fancy schmancy stuff I see in some beginner workouts. Horrifying!
With ten bucks extra get yourself "Simple and Sinister" which helps you to understand the movements better. Getting some instructions with a certified RKC or Strongfirst coach come highly recommended to lay the right foundation. Also, check out some moves for a bigger butt here.
I am a fitness enthusiast so I am biased as I get easily excited about anything around gym gear. Still, if you have the spare change, I would encourage you to get a set rather than just one kettlebell. Sets have the advantage to be the best value for money as most vendors waive the shipment cost of them and price per kettlebell goes down. Seeing all of the kettlebells of the set in front of you is also a good motivator to make you progress faster. I have applied this thinking to not be cheap to all of my gear and never lived to regret it. Get the good stuff or buy twice. Before you hit the button, make sure you try first. 

Have you ever tried

The best way of finding out what is right for you is to try and get proper instructions while doing so. Look up the next Strongfirst coach near you and pay him/her a visit. As a woman maybe even look for a female one as this might be easier to help you with any reservations around strength training you generally ( hint they are all unfounded, except the fact that women are usually of smaller built and produce less testosterone which puts them generally at a slight disadvantage for all sports in absolute output). Try one or two sessions and read up on the topic before investing 100 to 200 to be sure kettlebells are for you. In my opinion, they are one of the best general strength tools out there.

Which kettlebell weight should a woman start with

As you now have the context to make your decision the usual recommendation is to start with 8kg, 12kg or 16kg based on the factors discussed in this article. The more the scale tips towards young, strong and proficient in strength training the more it tilts towards a heavier starting weight, the smaller, older and unfit you are the more moderate the first choice becomes. If you were to buy a set of these three weights you will be set for a long time as you can progress with them in many directions.


The three vendors I always like to recommend are
Kettlebell Kings
Rogue Fitness
KettlebellUSA is the gold standard when it comes to kettlebells. They are the most positively reviewed amongst kettlebell pros and are worth the money. This is the choice if you want to take your training very seriously and only get the best for yourself. Some people find them too pricey, but hey, you only live once.
Kettlebell Kings are slightly less expensive and have the advantage for women that you can buy them in smaller weight increments. Most kettlebell trainers agree that this is not really necessary, still, you are the one who is buying so if you want kettlebells in pound increments you shall have them from Kettlebell Kings.
Rogue Fitness might not have the best kettlebells among the premium standards as they often get worse reviews than Kettlebell Kings and KettlebellUSA. Still, the standard is far beyond anything you get from Amazon or eBay. Stay away from this cheap kettlejunk and opt for Rogue if you do not need the most high end and also want to shop for some apparel and accessories in the same go.


It is great that you are researching to get started with kettlebell training. I never regretted it and got good results from it. My goals were to be more generally healthy as a heavy lifter as I struggled with lower back pain and being sluggish. The simple and sinister program was the solution for this which I started with a 24kg kettlebell. Remember, I was the best bench presser in a rugby gym at this time, so I would have ticked the high end on the fitness scale for strength related exercises (do not get me started on sprints though... atrocious).
Women should start with 8kg, 12kg or 16kg. The ladies in my local gym, be it weekend warrior or Xena the warrior princess, all worked with one of these three weights.

Further reading 


Topics: Lift stronger, Kettlebell