How heavy a kettlebell to build muscle?

Discussion in 'Kettlebell' started by swing, Aug 20, 2019.

  1. swing

    swing Still New to StrongFirst Forum

    Greetings, last year I started with a 16 kg kettlebell but injured my back due to stupidity in technique so I gave it a go again last month with a lighter weight and went with an 8 kg. Things are better now and I have more control. I have experienced some weight loss with the garbage around my waist starting to fade but I have not gained any muscle. I can still see my rib cage and my neck looks like what you see on Bill Clinton and Al Sharpton. I believe I am ready to move on now to a higher weight as the 8 kg feels at times like swinging a doll but am looking for one that would help both with cardio and boosting muscle growth. I don't know if a 16kg would do any good as people tend to say they outgrow that quickly. The 24kg and 32kg seem more of a preferred choice among those who have experienced solid gains and developed transformations but I'm not sure if that is too big a leap. Basically, I'd like to hear about your individual experiences on what weight(s) you have used to notice a growth in your physique. Best,
  2. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Certified Instructor

  3. swing

    swing Still New to StrongFirst Forum

    Many thanks @Anna C. This is quite helpful and yes, I am also limited financially so I am looking for a weight which I will not outgrow fairly quickly. Generally how long do users incorporate 24kg before finding it too light? Lastly, you recommended beginning with 2H swings. Do you have a suggestion on which kettlebell brand(s) offer horns wide enough to accommodate two hands comfortably? Best,
  4. Nate

    Nate Triple-Digit Post Count

    I am able to work the 40kg on some moves (swings, goblets & TGU) but still use the 24 a lot. Its a good purchase.
  5. swing

    swing Still New to StrongFirst Forum

    Many thanks @Nate. Do 24kg swings still offer a challenge when compared to the 40kg? Best,
  6. Pavel Macek

    Pavel Macek More than 2500 posts Master Instructor

    I will suggest an alternative approach:

    #1 technique first - simultaneously, focus on on better food and more rest
    #2 then build strength
    #3 and then focus on hypertrophy (hint - if you follow #1 and #2, you will most likely hit #3 goal without even trying)

    Hard to suggest weight - we don't know what is your technique, current strength level, what exercises do you use, etc. etc.
    ShawnM, SuperGirevik, Marc and 2 others like this.
  7. Sauli

    Sauli Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    24kg is unirversal bell. It basically never gets too light, but it's also too heavy for beginners. Basically you could still progress with it...

    Do deadlifts, 2 arm swings, progress to one arm swings, practise cleans, try to press it with leg drive until you can strict press it..
    SuperGirevik, Billy59, Bunn and 2 others like this.
  8. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Certified Instructor

    As to how long 24kg is useful before finding it too light... it all depends. "Beginner" has a very wide range of physical starting states, even if all people are equally new to kettlebells. In any case, I'm pretty confident it will be your most useful bell. Do you have a copy of S&S? It describes how to progress.

    As to brand, I think most are likely OK for 2 hand swings, but I can say for sure that Rogue is good. My hands are larger than most men's and I only occasionally come across one that's too small to fit both hands in, but it certainly is annoying when that's the case!
    ShawnM and swing like this.
  9. Nate

    Nate Triple-Digit Post Count

    24 is not the same as working 32 or 40 (or more!), but will still have use. While I don't use them for heavy sets of 5 in 2 arm swings anymore, they'll still be frequently used for recovery, overspeed 2 hand, 1 hand sometimes, snatches a lot, presses, etc etc etc etc. I still use the 16 for some things. I don't see "outgrowing" either of these, even if I'm ever able to get to the Beast.
    Sauli and swing like this.
  10. SuperGirevik

    SuperGirevik More than 300 posts

    @swing, welcome to StrongFirst :)

    I take it you already own a 16kg bell and if 8kg is too light, why not just go with the 16kg and continue progressing. In the meantime buy a 24kg to get ready for the next progression.

    Are you following any particular program like Simple & Sinister?

    I own Rogue and Kettlebell Kings (both cast iron and competition) kettlebells and for 2H swings, my vote goes to Kettlebell Kings cast iron bells. Rogue is good too but I just prefer the finish of the Kettlebell Kings kettlebells.

    I 100% agree. I can also do some moves with the 40kg but I can do all the moves I practice with a 24kg. Plus, you need something for those light days ;)
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2019
    swing and Billy59 like this.
  11. StrengthFirst

    StrengthFirst Still New to StrongFirst Forum

    Lifting to failure will give you hypertrophy. Obviously the selection of lifts should be thought through carefully (to avoid trauma) and training has to be planned.
    swing likes this.
  12. Roland Roppelt

    Roland Roppelt Double-Digit Post Count

    I started my StrongFirst journey with the purchase of a 24 and a kindle copy of Simple&Sinister.
    I did a different system before and started with 2h swings and getups with a 24.
    At the moment i work in the 40 with Simple&Sinister but my A+A snatch weight is the 24. Bent press? Trusty old 24. When i outgrow the 24 for A+A it might still be the right bell for Q&D.
    I love my 24.
    WxHerk, swing, Sauli and 1 other person like this.
  13. swing

    swing Still New to StrongFirst Forum

    Thank you @Anna C. I purchased a used copy of Simple & Sinister from AbeBooks and hope to receive it by early next week. I will also take a look at the Rogue brand kettlebells. Best,

    Greetings @SuperGirevik. Unfortunately I no longer have the 16kg kettlebell as I returned it shortly after injuring my back. It was not the kettlebell's fault but I did not want to be reminded of the injury by looking at it. I scaled down to the 8kg but feel it is time to progress. I would consider buying another 16kg but would prefer a weight that would stay challenging for awhile and help with building muscle. When the book arrives, I will start incorporating the exercises in the program with the 8kg to get a feel but plan on going forward with a heavier weight. I will also take a look at the Kettlebell Kings. Besides Rogue and Kettlebell Kings, are there any other brands that offer wide handles? Do any of you have any experiences with the Pavel Brand kettlebells that are sold on the StrongFirst online store? Where would these rank in terms of quality and value? Best,

    Lastly, for those who have incorporated both the 24kg and 32kg, can you share how each has worked out for you? Which weight has given you the most benefit during your lifestyle with kettlebells? In what ways is the 24kg better than the 32kg and vice versa? Best,
  14. Roland Roppelt

    Roland Roppelt Double-Digit Post Count

    There is no better imo, the 32 is just heavier.
    I love minimalism, but i love my courage corner more. I do not think it is a mistake to
    invest in a small collection of Kettlebells from 8,16,24,32 at least (i have more), but the 32 gave me what the 24 never could, but i would not be there without the 16 and the 24.
    Lee, WxHerk, Nate and 1 other person like this.
  15. swing

    swing Still New to StrongFirst Forum

    Greetings @Roland Roppelt, what additional benefits has the 32kg given you that is not available using the 24kg? Best,
  16. Nate

    Nate Triple-Digit Post Count

    For hypertrophy you need a heavier KB than whatever you're comfortably doing volume with now (progressive overload). Set Simple as your objective goal & let the WTHE come with it (Help Me Screw Things Up). Once you're getting comfy with a KB, start looking at buying next up. I'm a minimalist, so I like going up by 8kgs.

    I love Rogue KBs and they seem reasonably priced, but the shipping adds up (I want their 48 but won't pay $134 in shipping for one KB....). I have Diamond Pro, which go for ~$1/pound and ship free from My wife yelled at me when the FedEx guy was struggling up the driveway with double 32s.....
    swing likes this.
  17. Manuel Fortin

    Manuel Fortin Triple-Digit Post Count

    To add to the already good suggestions above, if you only want to do swing, and you really only can afford one kettlebell, the 24 should probably be your go to bell for now. 16 will be outgrown very fast in most cases for men, unless you have existing medical conditions or are of very small build. If you then cannot add more kettlebells, you can do the progression: deadlifts (to practice hinging, bracing, ..., you will get the drills in S&S), 2 hands swings, 1 hand swings, snatch (you may or may not need a lighter kettlebell to learn the snatch though). If Simple and Sinister with the 24 becomes too easy, getting to do the 10 000 swings challenge (10 000 swings in a month), or training the snatch with the 24, will surely do good things to your body. I think most men (and a lot of Strongfirst women!) though choose to bite the bullet and buy a 28 or a 32 when that time comes. If you also want to do other moves that involve arm and shoulder muscles (TGU, press, ...), you will probably also need at least the 16, unless you are already quite strong. As to other weights, if you need an in-between weight, there are a few threads on the forum on how to attach a small weight plate to kettlebells to achieve that goal.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
    swing likes this.
  18. Steve W.

    Steve W. Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    A kettlebell is of no benefit unless it an appropriate weight for your level of strength and technique, for the drills you are using it for, and for your goals and programming. Because of the bigger jumps between KB weights, there strategies for transitioning to a challenging bell or making a lighter bell more challenging. But the bell still has to be within a range that matches the above criteria.

    IMO, none (and I have average-sized adult male hands). I own and have used a selection of DragonDoor, Rogue, and Perform Better cast iron bells, and competition bells from Kettlebell Kings and Kettlebells USA (as well as briefly handling a number of other brands).

    They may be usable for two-arm swings, but none of them are comfortable. I remember during my RKC certification where we did hundreds and hundreds of two-arm swings the first day, I had to keep switching between pinkies inside the handle and pinkies outside the handle because the handle was scraping the hell out of both sides of my pinkies (as it was for the other attendees).

    I just don't think KBs are designed for two hand use. Although the two-arm swing is the best way to initially learn the swing, it's not a drill I want to be doing as a staple of my training for any kind of volume.

    And I think chasing big bells for two arm swings is not an economical strategy, and not necessary to any training goals. As the bells get heavier, they get more expensive, and a heavy bell that you can only use for two-arm swings is a one-trick pony.

    Better alternatives are one-arm drills with appropriately sized bells. For overloading swings specifically, a T-handle (manufactured or DIY) is much more economical (and comfortable). You can also overload the ballistic hinge with double swings or double cleans (a favorite of mine), and there are a multitude of other double bell drills that you can use doubles for.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
    swing likes this.
  19. RS12

    RS12 Double-Digit Post Count

    New York Barbell has these TDS wide handle kettlebells for sale. They claim they are specifically for 2 hand swings. I haven't used one so I can't speak to their fit and finish but the handles look wider than normal in the picture.
    swing likes this.
  20. Hasbro

    Hasbro Triple-Digit Post Count

    The question I would be asking myself is... “have I corrected my form issues?” You said you screwed your back up with a 16kg and poor technique so you bought an 8k. What I’m getting at is you can have poor technique with a 8kg and never realize it because it’s so light. You can get away with it with light weight but moving up to a 24kg is just asking for more trouble if your form isn’t spot on. You should’ve kept that 16kg imo. Might want to post a form video before deciding.

Share This Page