One of the most common questions I get about kettlebells is what weight to buy. It's usually a real barrier to starting. You may have read how to swing a kettlebell and how to do a Turkish get up. Yet you spend hours online trying to workout which one to buy. Their a great tool for developing Jiu Jitsu specific strength. They should be part of your strength training, so let's see if we can answer the question, what weight to buy.
Light kettlebells have little use for the vast majority of people. Don't waste your time or money.
Second, you're not doing deadlifts. You may deadlift with 150kg / 300lb. Yet, deadlifts are a slow exercise. Force is a direct result of the weight you lift and the speed you lift it. A fast moving smaller weight can generate the same forces as a slow moving larger weight. So, you don't need a kettlebell of the same weight that you would deadlift to generate the same level of force. Because of the speed differences, the kettlebell needs to be much, much smaller.
What weight kettlebell do you pick?
Don't go too light. You'll likely outgrow it.
If you are an active man or women with average strength I would recommend the following. Examples of average strength would be; you can run three miles, can do several push-ups, can do several pull-ups, you can do about 50 bodyweight squats.
- Men - 24kg / 53lb
- Women - 16kg / 35lb
All things being equal with levels of muscle mass, men and women are equally strong. Yet, men on average have more muscle mass, hence the different weights.
If you have been inactive for 12 months or more and have little previous strength training experience, take 4kg off the above weights.
For above average strength? Can you do a free weight back squat and deadlift with more than your own bodyweight for 5 reps? You may consider 32kg for me and 24kg for a women.
In summary: Inactive / average / above average
- Men - 20kg / 24kg / 32kg
- Women - 12kg / 16kg / 24kg
Will that be heavy enough?
You swing the kettlebell much, much faster than deadlifting. The force you generate is much, much higher than deadlifting the same weight. Its basic physics. You'll be surprised.
I weigh about 95kg. I have deadlifted more than double my own bodyweight. Yet, the heaviest kettlebell I own is 48kg......aka the beast. That also took a long time to build up to. These weights will be heavy enough. Trust me.
Will I need other weight kettlebells?
For most people one is going to be enough. However, if you have the money it can be worth buy a second one 8kg higher than the recommended starting weight. In my experience, most people will adapt and surpass the initial weight after only a few months. You then have the heavier weight ready when you reach this level. The lighter weight is then used for more complex exercises, like snatches, Turkish get ups etc. So, if you have the money, it could be worth while.
Even one will be a worthwhile investment. It doesn't get much more specific to Jiu Jitsu. Strength training with kettlebells is a must, you'll feel a huge difference.