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Should A Man Start With A 16kg Kettlebell?

When I decided to finally buy a kettlebell I immediately chose one that was way too heavy for me–or so I thought. Most recommendations I have seen suggest that men start with a 16kg kettlebell. That’s about 35 pounds and I agree that it is a suitable weight for beginning males…for certain movements.

It just depends on what you’re going to be doing with it, and that should be determined by what your goals are. If you buy a popular book like Enter The Kettlebell (my review) or Return of The Kettlebell (my review one more time) you’ll be taught a handful of movements. By the requirements of these books, I would say that yes, a 16 kilo kettlebell is probably sensible for most males, even strong ones.

That means that you’d be wise to start doing kb snatches and turkish get ups with that weight. It will help you familiarize yourself with the movements without straining against a weight that will overwhelm you.

But that means you are sacrificing a lot of other movements. I would encourage anyone to continue squatting and deadlifting, whatever tool they use. If you’re making consistent progress with those movements you’ll get bored very quickly working with 35 pounds of resistance, even if you pursue more challenging variations of the movements.

Now, as I said, I started with a 24 kilo kettlebell and quickly started doing snatches and swings. That was a mistake. I wasn’t ready for them and I put too much strain on myself. Moving at speed in unskilled movements is a great way to wreck yourself. I believe it’s nearly always better to learn with a light weight, unless a movement is self-correcting with more resistance, something I see with the kettlebell clean occasional.

At the end, I believe that the more movements you do, the better. If you start out with 16 kilos and plan on doing nothing than the recommend kb lifts, then you are sacrificing movements that could benefit you. To do those other movements, you will probably want more resistance. If I was starting again I would choose a 16, 24, and a 32, and use each at different times, for different things.

But if you’re making progress and having fun, you’re certainly not doing anything wrong.

Enjoy!

Josh

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