Kettlebell tips for beginners
Since quite some people asked me about how to start working out with kettlebells, I figured I shouldn't bury that advice in Twitter direct messages or WhatsApp messages. Here we go.
You should definitely check out Tim Anderson and his "Original Strength". He provides a lot of workouts and stretches in his YouTube channel as well. This has nothing to do with kettlebells per se, but it will prepare your body and overall movement patterns for kettlebell training.
His book "Pressing Reset: Original Strength reloaded" is co-written by Geoff Neupert whom I'll mention again further down. Read it. Do the strength reset daily or as a warmup for your strength training.
You can also do two of the most simple kettlebell movements that require not that much technique: The Goblet Squat and Kettlebell Carries. Carries are as simple as you can imagine: Pick up your kettlebell with alternating hands and walk – 10, 15, 20 minutes. Your abdominals and your grip strength will thank you.
Which kettlebell, which weight should you use?
When I started out with kettlebell workouts, I bought some cheap ones via Amazon – plastic coating, concrete (or something) as the core. They were way too big for the respective weight, always felt "off" and the plastic grip with its seams ruined by hands all the time.
So I switched to quality kettlebells I could use forever. They are more expensive, but if you've ever signed up for a gym membership – it's cheaper and you'll actually do something with your body 😄 Since I'm in Germany, I bought from kettlebellshop.de – the link leads to the initial 16kg kettlebell I'd recommend for men getting started.
Anything below 16kg is probably too light for you after four to eight weeks. By now I own two of these plus a 24kg one.
Getting started with your kettlebell strength practice
I first started reading "Simple & Sinister" by Pavel. He's a manly man, so prepare for that kind of style. I also took part in a beginner workshop with Frank from Hamburg Kettlebell Club here in Hamburg.
You really want to nail your technique before picking up any weight. Especially the kettlebell swing can ruin your back. So please, please take some money and have a professional teach you.
A great online forum for advice if you're unsure is hosted by StrongFirst. You can get feedback from fantastic people who absolutely know what they're talking about. Feel free to post a form check there, the feedback will be honest and will help you improve.
With the basic strength training from Simple & Sinister, you'll be on a good way. Master the Swing and the Turkish Getup before going any further in your training.
One thing, though: I did some Turkish Getups with my 24kg kettlebell. I wouldn't do that again, because my technique seems to have been a bit off, so my knees hurt the next day. With 24kg above your head, you better know what you're doing. I'd also say, that you don't need 24kg Turkish Getups for "General Prepared Physique", so keep that to 16kg.
What to read for kettlebell training?
I really like anything Dan John writes. He has a fantastic newsletter and his books are quite cheap. He breaks things down to the basics and absolutely knows what he's talking about. Pick any book here.
I've already mentioned Geoff Neupert. Similar to Dan John, he's a down-o-earth guy. Knowing how life happens, he's keen on providing workouts that fit into your daily schedule. I've bought several of his ebooks which you'll get by signing up to his newsletter – e.g. via a free sample like "Strength Shortcuts". Through his work, I've started doing double kettlebell workouts (hence two 16kg kettlebells) and… well, lots of double front squats are a nice way to keep you humble and fit 😅
Have fun, take care of yourself, don't get hurt and DO get strong 💪