Also done a few barbell programs like Starting Strength and Strong Lifts. Like some other newer people here, it wasn't until March of this year that I began using kettle bells as my only training tool.
By the end I was able to do the full routine with a 28 kg bell and could easily press a 32 kg. I farted around for a bit trying to figure out what I wanted to do next that didn't involve workouts that lasted up to two hours on the heavier days (as was the case with Top).
Then I realized I could not even do a Turkish Getup with the 28 kg kettle bell I had just spent so much time pressing. I started very light and slow to make sure my technique was solid.
But because I am going to be drinking tonight I decided, fuck it, I'm going to try to give myself a good reason to celebrate. It was hard work but I ended up finishing my swings in 4:45 and my get-ups in 9:00.
It is described in his book Simple and Sinister (which you should buy if you intend to follow the program), but the basics -- enough to get started -- are detailed below. But I think there are several reasons why good quality kettle bells are worth springing for.
Good quality kettle bells have smooth handles of uniform thickness and comfortable texture. And, they won't have molding seams making them wobbly or hard to hold.
With that in mind, here are a bunch of brands of kettle bell you won't regret buying. Kettle bell Kings offers 'free shipping' in the US; in other words, the cost of shipping is flat regardless of how far you live from their Austin, TX headquarters, and added into the price of the bell.
2021 Update: in the last few years (at least since COVID-19) KB Kings prices have gone up dramatically. A 35 lb powder coat kettle bell is currently $165 (perpetually 'marked down' from $195) with free shipping.
CFF offers 'free shipping' in the US; in other words, the cost of shipping is flat regardless of how far you live from their warehouses (in Lancaster, PA and Phoenix, AZ); and added into the price of the bell. A 35 lb Powder Coat kettle bell from CFF is $78 shipped as of this writing.
Rogue is the brand of choice for many high-end CrossFit gyms/boxes, and their bells are built to take daily abuse. Anecdotally, Rogue's bells have a slightly 'rougher' finish than CFF or KB Kings -- a little easier to grip when sweaty, good with chalk, but a little more 'coarse' on your hands.
First Place offers free shipping on orders over $45, but charges a surcharge ($10-$30) on heavier bells Frustratingly, VF currently only offers FedEx Ground for kettle bells, making their shipping costs significantly higher than other brands, particularly if you live farther away.
Again Faster is a company I don't see mentioned much around this Subreddit; but I personally own several kettle bells of theirs that I really like, so I'm putting them on the list. The finish in their kettle bells is smoother than Rogues, but still drippy; and have a very high-quality feel.
If you think you might be on the outer edges of the bell curve, either because you're an experienced weightlifter or because you've been sedentary for a while and are maybe of below-average strength, you've got a few options. Strong people will still find 20 or 35 lbs useful for learning form and aerobic work; and people who aren't so strong will get stronger quickly while learning the techniques.
If you're still unsure, you can head to a gym or store stocked with kettle bells, or even dumbbells. One metric is to choose the heaviest kettle bell (or comparable weight dumbbell) you can comfortably overhead press for reps.
But if it is frequently recommended for beginners (and experienced athletes new to kettle bell training as well). It's built around only two exercises, so there is a lower skill barrier to getting started than programs with more movements to learn.
If it's between spending half an hour doing your first SAS workout, or half an hour reviewing different programs trying to decide, my recommendation is to start with Simple and Sinister today, and shop around for your ideal beginner program tomorrow. Gradually reduce rest until you can complete 100 reps of 1-handed swings with perfect form in 5 minutes.
Eventually, you'll become strong enough to take 10 minutes to do your 10 reps (5 per side), maintaining a roughly 1:1 work:rest ratio (alternating 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest for 10 minutes). The book is absolutely worth buying, because it goes into incredible detail about how to perform the movements safely, and how to be smart about progressing up through the program.
In the simplest terms, Hard style focuses a little more on explosive power, and shorter sets with heavier weights. Competition kettle bells typically use a uniform color scheme to distinguish different weights.
Hard style kettle bells are often black, sometimes with weight-distinguishing colored stripes where the handle meets the bell. What kind of kettle bell you buy depends on what program you decide to follow.
I wrote a post a few years ago meant to answer the most frequently asked questions in this Subreddit at that time. The FAQ is a great list of resources, but it is maybe a bit overwhelming for someone coming in for some super-basic advice.