What is a kettlebell?

A kettlebell is a weight made of cast iron or cast steel that is used for strength and cardiovascular training. The kettlebell consists of a rounded, ball-shaped bottom, with a connected handle. Due to its center of mass not being balanced (like a dumbbell is), a kettlebell is best for swinging motions.

Kettlebell training has become popular over the years because it requires both strength and endurance. It is common to see kettlebell workouts have many repetitions at a moderately heavy weight. For example, some kettlebell competitions test athletes in events ten minutes long that prohibit you from putting the kettlebell down.

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How much is a pood?

In many CrossFit gyms, coaches will often refer to the weight of a kettlebell by poods. What is a pood and how many pounds equal a pood? A pood is a unit of measurement that equals 36.11 pounds or 16.38 kilograms. Kettlebells were first created in Russia, which is the reason why kettlebells are measured in poods.

Pood to Pounds to Kilograms Conversion Chart

PoodPoundsKilograms
.25 pood9.03 lbs.4.09 kg.
.5 pood10.06 lbs.8.19 kg.
1 pood36.11 lbs.16.38 kg.
1.25 pood45.14 lbs.20.48 kg.
1.5 pood54.17 lbs.24.57 kg.
1.75 pood63.19 lbs.28.66 kg.
2 pood72.23 lbs.32.76 kg.
3 pood108.34 lbs.49.14 kg.
4 pood144.45 lbs.65.52 kg.
5 pood180.56 lbs.81.90 kg.
6 pood216.67 lbs.98.28 kg.

Why does CrossFit use kettlebells?

Kettlebells are often used in CrossFit with exercises intended to build strength and endurance. The most popular kettlebell movement in CrossFit is the kettlebell swing, which strengthens the legs, back, shoulders and grip. CrossFit WODs with kettlebell movements can be easily modified because kettlebells come in a variety a weights, ranging from 9 pounds to over 200 pounds.

Commonly, the CrossFit Rx female kettlebell weight is 1 pood, or approximately 36 pounds, and the Rx male kettlebell weight is 1.5 pood, or approximately 54 pounds. However, this is not always the case as we have seen in the 2016 CrossFit Regionals Event 2 where female competitors completed 1.5 pood kettlebell snatches and male competitors completed 2 pood kettlebell snatches. Depending on the goal of the workout, kettlebell weights and movement repetitions can be increased or decreased.

Kettlebell movements in CrossFit

While many CrossFit gyms program kettlebell swings into their workouts, a distinction must be made between an “American swing” and a “Russian swing.” A Russian kettlebell swing uses two hands and requires you to swing the kettlebell only to shoulder height. An American kettlebell swing uses two hands and requires you to swing the kettlebell completely over the head, with arms extended and the bottom of the kettlebell facing the ceiling.

In addition to the kettlebell swing, some other kettlebell movements popular in CrossFit include goblet squats, single arm snatches, cleans, thrusters, Turkish get-ups, Farmer’s carry, weighted pistol squats and deadlifts. Due to the versatility of kettlebell movements, kettlebells are a great addition to any CrossFit gym or home gym.

Because kettlebells are so functional, we’ve included them as one of the best gifts to give CrossFitters. Check out our article to find where you can buy light, heavy and even skull shaped kettlebells.