From dumbbells to rowing machines, there is a seemingly endless list of options for building strength from a home gym. Few, however, rival the simplicity and effectiveness of a kettlebell.
This old-school method of building muscle and burning fat consists of a ball with a large handle for gripping with one or two hands and a flat base. Most kettlebells are made of a single piece of iron or steel. They come in various weights to meet different strengths and abilities. Kettlebell exercises provide a full-body workout that builds muscle while burning calories.
With so many brands of kettlebells on the market, it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. If you’re looking to add one of these weights to your home gym, then read on to learn about what factors to consider when shopping for one and find out why the products below are worth their weight.
- BEST OVERALL: Rogue Fitness Kettlebells
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: AmazonBasics Cast Iron Kettlebell Weight
- UPGRADE PICK: Kettlebell Kings Powder Coat Kettlebell
- BEST FOR BEGINNERS: Titan Fitness Kettlebell Weight Lifting Equipment
- BEST COMPETITION: Kettlebell Kings Competition Kettlebell
- BEST ANIMAL-THEMED: Onnit Primal Kettlebells
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Kettlebells
Ahead, learn about the three types of kettlebells and what features you should take into account when determining which one to purchase.
Classic kettlebells are forged from one solid piece of metal. Their size changes with weight, becoming bigger with heavier weights. They also feature wider handles that allow for a two-handed grip when needed, making them more diverse than a competition kettlebell. Their versatility makes classic kettlebells the best option for beginners.
Competition kettlebells are designed to be used with one arm only; therefore, they feature smaller handles than other kettlebell types. This means you won’t be able to perform two-handed exercises, such as halos, goblet squats, and two-handed swings. Competition kettlebells also maintain the same size and shape regardless of what weight they are. If you’re looking to take your fitness work with kettlebells to a more advanced level, then competition kettlebells are for you.
An adjustable kettlebell allows you to change its weight to suit your ability level and the type of exercise you’re doing. They feature locking mechanisms that enable you to add or remove weights in 4- or 5-pound increments and a weight range of about 20 pounds. This type of kettlebell is an excellent option for those with limited space in their home gym or multiple users with different strength levels.
Most kettlebells consist of iron, but their design quality varies. Some kettlebells are made out of a single piece of iron, whereas others use multiple pieces from scrap, iron inserts, or plugs. Kettlebells cast from a single piece usually have a more accurate weight and size and a more consistent balance. They’re also more durable, as there are no individual pieces that can eventually work themselves apart.
Kettlebell coatings vary. Some feature unfinished iron, while others have a powder coating or a rubber coating. Powder and rubber coatings offer durability by adding a protective layer that prevents rust from forming on the kettlebell. Rubber coatings also prevent the kettlebell from scratching smooth surfaces in your home, such as hardwood floors.
How you plan to train affects which kettlebell is right for you. Training kettlebells that feature wide grips allow for two-arm use, which makes them much more versatile. If you’re planning on using a kettlebell to perform advanced exercises, it may make sense to purchase a competitive kettlebell that allows for better form.
Size and Number
You can complete a wide range of exercises and conduct a full workout with just one kettlebell. A 26-pound bell is a good weight for most women, while a 35-pound kettlebell will suffice for most men. As you become stronger, you can adjust your workout’s intensity by increasing reps rather than increasing weight. When you become more experienced, it may make sense to purchase a second kettlebell to complete more advanced workouts involving both sides at the same time.
Handle and Grip
Besides having different-size handles based on type, kettlebell handles also vary in shape and feel. The diameter of most kettlebell handles is in the range of 35 to 38 mm, which allows for a secure grip when you’re executing a kettlebell pull-up or swing. Handles also come with different finishes, including painted, powder-coated, and unfinished, each of which creates a different feel. Powder-coated finishes provide the best grip and work well with chalk.
Our Top Picks
The kettlebells below feature one-piece designs with coatings that promote a good grip while protecting the metal from rust. These models come from some of the best-known names in kettlebell weights, including Rogue Fitness and Kettlebell Kings.
There’s a reason Rogue’s kettlebells are some of the most popular on the market. First, they feature quality construction. They are forged from one piece of iron instead of scrap metal, giving them accurate weight and a balanced feel. A smooth surface with a black powder-coat finish prevents rust from forming on these kettlebells even in humid environments while holding chalk well, making for a smooth and comfortable grip.
With its wide handle, this kettlebell accommodates two-handed exercises. A broad base allows users to set these kettlebells down easily without them rocking or rolling over. These kettlebells are colour-coded by weight, making discerning between weights easy. Rogue’s kettlebells come in 18 sizes, ranging from 9 pounds to 203 pounds.
With its quality construction and affordable price, this kettlebell is an excellent choice for those setting up their home gym on a budget. This model features solid cast-iron construction with no gaps in the handle or body, which provides proper balance. A wide handle is ideal for two-arm exercises, such as the kettlebell swing and kettlebell row, among others.
A black-painted exterior prevents rust and corrosion from forming on the iron, while a textured surface allows for a better grip. Each kettlebell’s weight is stamped into the side, allowing you to identify the weight easily when working with multiple sizes. AmazonBasics’ kettlebell comes in 10 weight options ranging from 10 pounds to 60 pounds.
While many kettlebells feature single-cast construction, Kettlebell Kings’ attention to detail coupled with the impressive finish of its kettlebells put it in a class that’s a step above many other free-weight manufacturers.
Kettlebell Kings polishes its weights after forging, eliminating any seams or rough edges that might cause discomfort. They also use their own unique powder-coating formula to create an exceptionally smooth finish for optimal grip. The company even employs a recessed logo stamp on its kettlebells to eliminate any chances that a raised logo might interfere with movement. Each kettlebell has a colored band for weight identification. Kettlebell Kings’ powder-coated kettlebells come in a broad range of 21 weight options, ranging from 9 pounds to 203 pounds.
When just starting out, it can be challenging to determine what weight to select. You also may quickly advance to higher weights as your strength and form improve. With that in mind, this adjustable kettlebell from Titan Fitness is a suitable choice for beginners. It offers unparalleled versatility with nine cast-iron plates that individuals can add or remove to adjust the weight between 10 and 40 pounds in 5-pound increments. A tough plastic lock holds the weights firmly in place during exercise.
The Titan Fitness kettlebell features a wide handle that allows for both one-arm and two-arm exercises. A flat base adds stability when setting the weight down, while a black powder coating prevents corrosion and rust.
With Kettlebell King’s attention to detail and workmanship, this model is a worthy option for competitive lifters or those looking to do more advanced exercises. These kettlebells feature a uniform size of 284.5 mm by 192.6 mm for each weight, helping your form stay consistent regardless of what weight you’re using. They feature smaller handles that are just 115 mm wide for one-arm exercises only.
These kettlebells come in 18 weights ranging from 18 pounds to 106 pounds and are color-coded for easy weight identification. Each weight is cast from a single piece of metal to the exact weight specification with no fillers, ensuring each weight is well balanced.
These kettlebells from Onnit bring out the savage side with kettlebells cast in the shape of the head of an angry primate. This collection begins with an 18-pound weight, a screaming howler monkey. It continues up the food chain—and weight class—to include a sneering chimp, orangutan, and gorilla, with the mythical Bigfoot serving as the 90-pound kettlebell.
Each head is cast out of chip-resistant iron and features a black powder coating that resists corrosion while creating a rough surface for a solid grip. A wide handle allows you to use these fierce weights for one-arm and two-arm workouts.
Safety Tips for Using Kettlebells
Unlike a rubber exercise ball, kettlebells can do some damage if misused. The tips below will help you prevent injury.
- Choose the right weight. Select a weight that maximizes the benefits of using kettlebell weights while minimizing the chance for injury. A weight that is too heavy could slip free from your grasp during a two-handed swing, hurtling through the air to damage property or injure a bystander. If possible, test out kettlebell weights at a gym to determine what weight you can comfortably manage and control.
- Protect the back. Lifting free weights can strain the back, causing injury. Protect your back by positioning yourself so the hips and legs absorb the force of the kettlebell. Use a mirror to help eliminate slouching and to achieve proper posture.
- Wear proper footwear. A good foundation is key to ensuring you can handle the added weight of a kettlebell without slipping. A good set of athletic shoes will help create a solid base for lifting.
- Use chalk. Chalk can be a bit messy, which may discourage you from using it. However, if you’re dealing with heavyweights, chalk can assist with grip, helping to minimize the chances that a kettlebell will slip from your grasp.
FAQs About Kettlebells
If you’re still wondering what kettlebell you should purchase, look below for answers to some of the weightiest questions about these free weights.
Q. What makes a quality kettlebell?
The quality of a kettlebell is determined by how it’s made. Good-quality kettlebells are forged from one piece of metal, be it steel or iron. The handle and bell should also be one continuous piece as opposed to welded together. This means there are no gaps, welded joints, or inserts in either the handle or the body. A quality kettlebell should also have a protective coating in the form of paint or a powder coating, which improves grip and resists corrosion.
Q. How heavy should my kettlebell be?
For beginners, you should find a kettlebell that you can comfortably grip and lift while still receiving a decent amount of resistance. A good starting weight is 18 pounds for women and 35 pounds for men.
Q. Are kettlebells considered weight or cardio training?
Although we may think of exercise bikes and treadmills as the go-to machines for cardio, depending on how you use them, kettlebells can be also an effective source of cardio as well as weight training.
Q. Do kettlebells burn belly fat?
Given that many kettlebell exercises focus on strengthening your core, they are a very effective means of burning belly fat.