beginner kettlebells 3kg 4kg 5kg with exercise mat
Getting Started with Kettlebells

You need a basic level of competence with hand weights before progressing to kettlebells says our PT. Here’s what you need to consider before you get started

How do I get started with Kettlebells?

Answered by wlr Personal Trainer Carla van Traa REPS L4

Full Question

(from wlr member)

Looking at websites and saw dvd's for kettlebell workouts. I am a strong believer in weights for toning rather than just exercises but do you think they would be too much for me? 

I am 18 st now. Just don't want to invest in kettlebells if I can't do the exercises. I did used to do weights for years and classes using a weighted bar. Do you think I would have any strength left over from that, although last time I did a class was probably 2 years ago? 

If you think it might be a good idea, do I need to buy 2 (one for each arm like weights) or just one and what would be a good weight to start with?

Carla's Answer

Kettlebells are a really great tool, not only for strength training but they get the cardiovascular system going too.

You mentioned in a previous post you were just getting back into exercise, hoping to get walking etc. I would keep going with that and use the hand weights you have first, to get your body back on track with movement.

When I qualified as a Kettlebell instructor we were told not to teach people at all, unless they had been using free weights competently and regularly for at least 6 months or more.

There are lots of kettlebell moves you can do with a weight instead. 

You need a good strong core to get the most of kettlebells, and should be able to lunge forwards without a bow forward, keeping your back upright. 

The key thing with this equipment is technique.

When we as instructors undertake extra training to be able to teach kettlebells, part of the course is getting the posture right.

Also, the use of the legs to assist you is really important. If you use your back too much as a lever it could, and probably will, lead to problems.

There are various ways you can bring a kettlebell up, and what you do with it will go beyond a basic swing. You do need a decent weight, but the weight you need will change depending on the exercise, and some do require 2 bells at the same time. 

You don't need to buy 2 though, as kettlebells are generally done one side at a time - you learn to change hands without putting the bell down and to keep it moving through various means.

Kettlebells recruit loads more muscle than traditional weights, so take it easier to start with. 

I would suggest you find a personal trainer or a trainer at your gym and get a 1 to 1 session to get you started and keep you safe. A qualified trainer can advise you on what weights of bell you would need.

Please ensure that the person whom you ask for help has actually been on a course and is qualified in kettlebell use. All the time I come across trainers using equipment that they have no formal training in, they make it up as they go along, or watch Youtube. There is a reason why there is a course - its to keep you safe! And for insurance purposes, no certificate = no insurance.

Have a Question about Exercise?

You can ask Carla any exercise related question on the Personal Trainer board in wlr, take a free trial to get access

Take our FREE trial »

Lose a Stone this Autumn Advert

If you enjoyed this article, try our newsletter. It's free.

Receive the latest on what works for weight loss straight to your inbox. We won't share your email address. Privacy policy

Sponsored