While it would be great if there was a blanket answer to the question “when to increase the weight of your kettlebell?”. But as with many aspects of health, the answer really varies from person to person. Several factors that should be considered when determining whether it’s time to increase your kettlebell weight are discussed below. I’m going to assume that you’ve already chosen your starting kettlebell weight and are now trying to figure out if it’s time to go heavier.
Consider Your Comfort Level
One crucial factor you should consider is your level of comfort with the various kettlebell moves you incorporate into your workouts. For example, the weight of your current kettlebell may not seem as challenging as it was initially. However, you might still feel uncertain about whether you’re performing the move correctly or have a hard time stringing together a series of reps without losing your form or flow. This can be the case even if your weight is appropriate or even too light – it’s not necessarily indicative of the weight being too heavy.
Rather than increasing the weight before you feel entirely comfortable with the motion altogether, you’re better off sticking with your current weight. Many kettlebell moves are complex, and it can take a while to perform them without mentally walking yourself through all of the steps with each rep. Until you can do an exercise with confidence in your form and maintain a good flow from one rep to the next, you shouldn’t increase your kettlebell weight.
How Many Reps Do You Plan To Do?
Another factor to consider is the length of time or number of reps you will be doing with the kettlebell. For example, a lighter kettlebell may be more appropriate if you’re performing timed intervals of a minute or longer or if you’re going for a high number of reps, like somewhere in the 15-25+ range. In these instances, you’re working more muscular endurance than strength. You will need to stick with a lighter kettlebell to last through the entire set.
On the other hand, if you’re interested in working more on muscular strength than endurance, you will likely be working in shorter bursts of activity, maybe somewhere in the 10-30 second or 5-10 rep range. In these cases, you wouldn’t be taxing your muscles nearly enough and likely wouldn’t be getting much out of the exercise if you stuck with your lighter kettlebell. As a general guideline, regardless of your rep scheme or time interval, you want the last 25% (either of reps or of time) to be a challenge. For example, if you’re going for 10 reps of an overhead press, it should start feeling pretty tough around the 7th or 8th rep. You should be glad when you’ve reached the end and not feel like you could have done many more reps, if any. If you get through your complete set and still feel like you have some energy left, it’s probably time for an increase. Read here; why kettlebells are so effective.
Which Muscle Groups Will You Be Working On?
One more variable you should factor into the decision of whether or not to increase your kettlebell weight is the muscle groups you’ll be working with. Given the size differences between muscles (shoulders and legs, for example), you likely won’t be able to increase the size of your kettlebell for every move at the same time. You’ll probably see gains more quickly with larger muscle groups or more complex exercises such as squats and swings than you will with smaller muscles or more isolated movements such as a shoulder press.
As you can see, there are a handful of factors that should be considered when determining whether it’s time to increase your kettlebell weight. When in doubt, it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution and get a little more experience under your belt with a lighter weight before increasing. And remember, when you increase weight, it’s a good idea to drop your number of reps or time intervals down a little bit so that you can work your way back up safely.