Kettlebell Weight Guide: What Is A Pood?
Kettlebell training is a great form of exercise that you can do in your own home without needing a lot of space. Kettlebells are small, inexpensive and versatile and can give you a full-body workout. They are an affordable and convenient way of getting a good workout in.
Kettlebell workouts are very popular in Russia, and a lot of kettlebell terminology and routines come from there. This means that new kettlebell devotees, especially ones that learned about the practice from CrossFit, are often confused by the terms that are used in the kettlebell world.
Kettlebell Poods Explained
If you spend any time around the kettlebell community you will hear about the pood quite a lot. The Kettlebell pood is a unit of measurement that the Russians use and that has carried over to the western world. A pood is the same as 40 funt. A funt is a 'Russian pound'.
The above explanation probably isn't much use to you, if you don't think in funts then all you will be reading there is "one unit of gibberish is equal to 40 units of something else". So, let's put it more simply. A pood is 16.38 kilograms, or 36.11 pounds.
Why Poods Matter
When you are planning your workouts, you will see that sometimes you get told to use a 1 Pood kettlebell, or a 1.5 Pood kettlebell. If you're a complete beginner, or have an injury, then you may even opt to use kettlebells that weigh less than 1 pood.
The standard kettlebell Pood weights are:
- 0.25 Pood / 4KG / 9 Pounds
- 0.4 Pood / 6KG / 13 Pounds
- 0.5 Pood / 8KG / 18 Pounds
- 0.7 Pood / 12KG / 26 Pounds
- 1 Pood / 16KG / 35 Pounds
- 1.2 Pood / 20KG / 44 Pounds
- 1.5 Pood / 24KG / 53 Pounds
- 1.7 Pood / 28KG / 62 Pounds
- 2 Pood / 32KG / 70 Pounds
- 2.2 Pood / 36KG / 80 Pounds
- 2.4 Pood / 40KG / 88 Pounds
- 3 Pood / 48KG / 106 Pounds
There are some other 'unusually sized' kettlebells out there but you are unlikely to need them unless you are doing some highly tailored workouts. For a popular kettlebell workout such as Simple and Sinister, the standard sizes are the best choice.
Choosing a Kettlebell
A good kettlebell should have a flat base so that it will not wobble when you put it down. This is particularly important if you are doing exercises such as the plank/renegade row where you need to be able to place the kettlebell on the floor as a part of each rep. Kettlebells are usually cast in a mold, and then will need machined to be completely flat. It is well worth investing in a high-quality kettlebell so that you can be confident that it won't let you down or irritate you in the long run.
The weight of the kettlebell matters too. Most people get the size of kettlebell they should be working with wrong when they first start working out. Men often lean towards kettlebells that are bigger than they should really use for the exercise because they are accustomed to using barbells or dumbbells that tend to be heavier since the lifts you do with those are slower and more controlled. Women, on the other hand, tend to assume that they should use a lighter weight than they need, unaware of how the kettlebell 'swing' affects what they can move.
As a rule of thumb, a male beginner should be using a kettlebell of 1 pood for most exercises. A man who has some strength training experience should start with 1.2 pood for their first kettlebell. Meanwhile, a woman with no experience should start with 0.5 pood, while a woman who has some athletic background could start with a 0.7 pood kettlebell.
These assume that the person is average sized. Bodyweight does matter, and a bigger person will need a bigger weight to get the same level of challenge. Even a small female can work up to a 1 pood or bigger kettlebell with training.
How Many Kettlebells Do You Need?
Most kettlebell exercises can be performed with just one kettlebell. Some may require two kettlebells. If you're on a tight budget, then start with one kettlebell of 1 pood if you are male, or 0.5 pood if you are female and of average size. You will likely outgrow this quite quickly and need to upgrade to the next level of weight.
When you reach a weight that feels challenging and that you are likely to stay at for a while, consider buying two of that kettlebell. This will allow you to do two-handed swings, and to use more weight when doing squats and lunges. Kettlebell workouts can be challenging both cardio-wise and in terms of your strength, but even when you are using two kettlebells at a time you will find that you use lower weights than perhaps you have been used to when working out with a barbell.
Quality Comes First
Avoid plastic kettlebells with a weight 'inside of them' (you can tell these because they have a seal at the bottom). Avoid metal kettlebells that have a seam which may chafe or irritate your hands.
Remember that a single kettlebell can give you a full body strength and cardio workout, so you are getting a lot of value out of the purchase. It is worth paying for quality. Just think how much a set of squat stands, a bench, a barbell and some plates would cost you and it will put the cost of a kettlebell into perspective!
Be sure to read reviews of kettlebells online, and ask around to find trusted brands. If you can try them in stores that may help, but you can often get better prices when you buy online. Make sure that you factor in the cost of shipping before you buy. Kettlebells are heavy and if you're charged by the weight you could end up paying quite a bit! The good news is that since a kettlebell has no moving parts, even your starter 1 pood kettlebell will serve you well for some exercises, such as the Turkish get-up, for a long time to come.