I’ve seen first-hand how kettlebell training can build a leaner, stronger body. When I started doing kettlebell workouts I weighed 260 lbs, was morbidly obese and got tired tying my shoes. Long gone were the days of my being in great shape at 12% body fat and squatting 8 plates (405 pounds).
I hadn’t exercised consistently in years at that time but when I started training with kettlebells I became hooked. So little by little I swung, pressed, squatted, cleaned, and snatched my way back to being fit and healthy with kettlebell workouts and eating right.
After more than a decade of kettlebell training I wondered where I stood with regard to my strength and endurance with kettlebells. I looked online and couldn’t find a list of strength standards with kettlebells. There’s lots of websites that give you this information with barbell and dumbbell exercises but not kettlebells.
So I scoured the Internet and put together a list for all of us to use.
This blog post is that list. It includes what some of the most renowned kettlebell and strength coaches have learned after years of coaching men and women to be the weights and reps we should aim to do for several popular kettlebell exercises.
You can use the standards in this article as challenges to aim for with your workouts and to see where you stand amongst your peers. Make sure you track your progress along the way to see how far you’ve come. That’s what really matters.
Kettlebell Strength Standards
Standard 1: Kettlebell Swings
This is the most popular kettlebell exercise by a mile. Swings are a total body exercise that especially trains your legs and core muscles. Your shoulders and back, grip and arms get a nice workout too.
Below are ideal weights and repetition goals for the kettlebell swing according to strength coaches Brent Contreras and Dan John.
Brent is best known for popularizing glute training years ago, before every gym had a hip thrust machine and dedicated glutes classes. If you’re ever in the Pacific Beach neighborhood of San Diego check out his gym. I’ve peeked through the window when it’s close and it looks really rad.
Dan has been training himself and others for optimal athletic performance before most of us were born. He’s also been on the kettlebell workout train for several years, co-authoring several books with Pavel Tsatsouline and working as an instructor at his certification courses.
Both coaches’ standards are based on the kettlebell’s weight and doing a specific number of swings. The biggest difference between them is that Brent has you use your body weight to determine what weight to swing.
Brent Contreras Kettlebell Swing Standards- source
|Gender||Kettlebell Weight (lbs)||Number of Swings|
|Men||.8 x Body Weight (lbs)||10|
|Women||.8 x Body Weight (lbs)||10|
Dan John Kettlebell Swing Standards- source
|Gender||Kettlebell Swing Reps||Kettlebell Swing Weight|
|Men||20 reps||24 kg (53 lbs)|
|Women||20 reps||16 kg (35 lbs)|
Kettlebell Squat Strength Standards
This table shows you coach John’s standards for 2 types of kettlebell squats for men and women. These standards are for a 1 rep max with the weights in the table.
|Men||Goblet Squat||24 kg (52 lbs)|
|Men||Double KB Front Squat||32 kg (140 lbs total)|
|Women||Goblet Squat||12 kg (25 lbs)|
|Women||Double KB Front Squat||16 kg (70 lbs total)|
Overhead Kettlebell Press Strength Standards
People have been measuring how much weight they can press overhead as a standard of upper body strength forever. The overhead press was even once part of Olympic lifting competitions.
The table below gives overhead pressing standards set by Dan John for 1 and 2 kettlebell presses by a guy who knows a lot of both Olympic and kettlebell presses. All of the exercises are done while standing.
|One Arm KB Press||24 kg (53 lbs)||5 reps/arm|
|Double KB Press||32 kg (71 lbs)||5 reps/arm|
|Two Arm KB Press||Your body weight||1 rep|
|One Arm KB Press||10 kg (22 lbs)||5 reps per arm|
|Double KB Press||16 kg (70 lbs total)||5 reps|
|Two Arm KB Press||2/3 of your body weight||1 rep|
Kettlebell Carry Strength Standards
Often referred to as farmer’s walks this exercise is done just how it sounds. You pickup a kettlebell and start walking. Below are the standards set by Dan John are based on body weight.
Check out the table to see if you meet or exceed his kettlebell carry standards.
|Your Body Weight In Pounds||Pounds|
|Less than 135 lbs (61 kg)||24 kg each hand (52 lbs per hand)|
|Between 136–185 lbs (62 – 84 kgs)||32 kgs each hand (71 lbs per hand)|
|Between 186–216 lbs (84-98 kgs)||40 kgs each hand (88 lbs per hand)|
|Over 216 lbs (99 kgs)||48 kgs each hand (106 lbs per hand)|
Kettlebell Clean Strength Standards
Coach John’s strength standards for the kettlebell clean are pretty tough. How do you measure up? Note that these are for double kettlebell cleans where you have one in each hand.
|Men||Double Kettlebell Clean||32 kg (71 lbs)||10|
|Women||Double Kettlebell Clean||16 kg (35 lbs)||10|
Kettlebell Clean And Press Challenge
The weights for this strength standard are by Mike Mahler. He based this kettlebell challenge/standard on one created using dumbbells by Sig Klein, a strongman and bodybuilder from the early 20th century.
|Men||32 kg (70 lbs)||14 reps|
|Women||12 kg (26 lbs)||14 reps|
Kettlebell Snatch Strength Standards
Here are the standards set by Pavel Tsatsouline as part of his Strong First certification program and the Secret Service Snatch Test (SSST). If you’re not familiar, Pavel is responsible for repopularizing kettlebells all around the world in the mid 1990s. He’s published books and videos on the topic and has his kettlebell training company Strong First which I recommend you check out.
I’m not sure the origins of the secret service kettlebell snatch test but it’s still worth training to accomplish since it is a real test of your endurance and strength. Some people say it’s used by the U.S. Secret Service but you no se.
Note: You’re allowed to switch hands during each test.
Strong First’s 1 KB Snatch Test Standards
|Gender & Age||Body Weight||Kettlebell Size||Required Reps|
|Women under 50 yrs||Up to 59 kg (130 lbs)||12kg||100 reps in 5 min|
|Women under 50 yrs||Over 59 kg (130lb)||16kg||100 reps in 5 min|
|Women 50-64 yrs||Any body weight||12kg||100 reps in 5 min|
|Women 65+ yrs||Any body weight||12kg||50 reps in 3 min|
|Men under 50 yrs||Up to 68 kg (150 lbs)||20kg||100 reps in 5 min|
|Men under 50 yrs||68-100 kg (150 lbs – 221 lbs)||24kg||100 reps in 5 min|
|Men under 50 yrs||Over 100 kg (221 lbs)||28kg||100 reps in 5 min|
|Men 50-64 yrs||Any body weight||20kg||100 reps in 5 min|
|Men 65+ yrs||Any body weight||20kg||50 reps in 3 min|
U.S. Secret Service Snatch Test Standard
|Men||53 lb (24 kg)||100||Lame|
|Women||35 lb (16 kg)||100||Lame|
|Men||53 lb (24 kg)||150||Getting Better|
|Women||35 lb (16 kg)||150||Getting Better|
|Men||53 lb (24 kg)||200||Good|
|Women||35 lb (16 kg)||200||Good|
|Men||53 lb (24 kg)||250||Really Good|
|Women||35 lb (16 kg)||250||Really Good|
|Men||53 lb (24 kg)||275||Awesome|
|Women||35 lb (16 kg)||275||Awesome|
Simple & Sinister Kettlebell Workout Strength Standards
This challenge is based on a popular workout program by Pavel Tsatsouline, the man who repopularized the kettlebell in the United States and probably the rest of the world in the late 1990s.
It’s a test of your total body strength and endurance. There are 2 sets of standards: simple and tougher to achieve, named sinister.
Simple strength standards for 1 arm swing and Turkish get up
|1 arm swing||32 kg||24 kg||100||< 15 minutes|
|Turkish get up||32 kg||16 kg||10||< 15 minutes|
Sinister strength standards for 1 arm swing and Turkish get up
|Men||1 arm swing||48 kg (101 lbs)||100||< 15 minutes|
|Men||Turkish get up||48 kg (101 lbs)||10||< 15 minutes|
|Women||1 arm swing||32 kg (71 lbs)||100||< 15 minutes|
|Women||Turkish get up||24 kg (53 lbs)||10||< 15 minutes|
Beast Tamer & Iron Maiden Strength Standards
Here’s another set of strength standards set by Pavel Tsatsouline. These aren’t time. When you can move the weight for each exercise you’ve met, or maybe even exceeded the standard. If you can’t it’s time to get back to training until you can.
The standard here is to get at least 1 rep of each exercise with good form using the required weight.
|Men – beast tamer||KB pistol, pull up and press||48 kg (101 lbs)|
|Women – iron maiden||KB pistol, pull up and press||24 kg (53 lbs)|
Which Kettlebell Standards Do You Want To Achieve?
In conclusion, the process to meeting kettlebell strength standards is an ongoing process of dedication, determination, and growth. Remember, the journey is as important as the destination. In other words, celebrate your discipline to train regularly and small wins every workout. That’s far more important than if you ever reach or even exceed any of these standards.
One way to help yourself achieve these standards is to keep track of our workouts. It helps you see how you’re progressing and gives you the info you need to plan better workouts. I developed a workout tracker that in my humble opinion is better than any template or app.
So, keep swinging, keep tracking, and relish the rewarding journey towards meeting these and any kettlebell strength standards you want to achieve.
- How To Log And Track Supersets With Your Workout Tracker - September 1, 2023
- Kettlebell Strength Standards – Which Do You Meet? - July 25, 2023
- The Best Upper/Lower/Full Body Kettlebell Workout - July 25, 2023