UPDATED December 2018
Want to take your workout to the next level? Tired of doing the same old exercises? If so, it’s time to try something new! With their cool design, kettlebells are sure to catch your eye. Yet, most gym goers find them intimidating.
These fitness tools have been around for decades. They’re not just a passing trend or fad. When used properly, they can transform your body and make you a better athlete. Whether you’re using them for rows, deadlifts, or squats, you’ll be surprised by how awesome and versatile these weights are.
In this article I’ve reviewed the top 5 kettlebells on the market (as of 2018). If you don’t know the exact weight you need, stop reading this article, read this one, and then come back here!
I have put well over 100 hours of research and using different kettlebell models to come up with these 5 recommendations. Let’s get started with the best kettlebells on the market!
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What Is a Kettlebell?
Nowadays, kettlebells are found in most gyms. Just like dumbbells and barbells, they can be used for a variety of exercises, from goblet squats to skull crushers. Thousands of years ago, athletes were using weights with handles during sports competitions. Back in the 18th century, they were popular among the Soviet forces.
In the ’70s, kettlebell lifting became the official sport of Russia. A kettlebell is a cast-steel or cast-iron ball with a handle. It’s ideal for strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular training, and comes in different sizes. Unlike dumbbells and barbells, its gravity center extends beyond the hand, which facilitates swinging and ballistic movements. This helps increase arm, wrist, and grip strength while reducing injury risk.
The best kettlebells available today are strong enough to endure the toughest workouts. They’re coated in a durable material and boast unusual shapes. Some are basic and look just like a big, heavy ball, while others feature unique designs and graphics. However, this aspect is less important. What matters are the results you’ll get from kettlebell training. These versatile fitness tools can boost your strength and build explosive power, leading to enhanced exercise performance.
Get Leaner, Stronger, and Faster with Kettlebell Training
Different people use kettlebells for different reasons. Some do it in order to build muscle and strength. Some want to get leaner and fitter. Others train with kettlebells to keep their workouts varied and prevent plateaus. These fitness tools provide a full body workout in a fraction of the time. They make you stronger overall and boost your endurance while adding variety to your routine.
The benefits of kettlebell training are confirmed by science. According to the American Council on Exercise, these free weights increase heart rate and VO2max, offering a higher-intensity workout than standard training routines. In layman’s terms, they boost both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. This leads to a faster metabolism and improved athletic performance. When used along with a healthy diet, kettlebell training can help you slim down and shed stubborn fat.
In a six-week study conducted on 30 men, those who used kettlebells experienced a 4.2 percent increase in power clean performance. The resistance training group only has a nine percent increase. Other studies show that kettlebell training may increase aerobic capacity by up to 13.8 percent and core strength by a whopping 70 percent. It also improves dynamic balance and grip strength as well as sprint running ability.
Depending on what exercises you do, kettlebells can help improve the mechanics of your squat pattern, increase mobility, and teach your body to stabilize itself. Jerks, cleans, and other exercises build power and explosiveness with done with kettlebells. This boasts your sports performance and overall fitness. Since most kettlebell movements involve the entire body, they burn a ton of calories and raise your metabolism. Due to their intense nature, they trigger the so-called afterburn effect or EPOC. As a result, you’ll continue to burn calories for up to 36-48 hours post workout.
Furthermore, kettlebells help increase joint strength and range of motion. They also work smaller stabilizing muscles that maintain the closure of your joints. This leads to a reduced risk of injury and improves functional fitness. In the long run, kettlebell training may help prevent postural imbalances and strengthen the muscles around your spine. They’re easier to use compared to dumbbells, and make your workouts fun!
Why Use Kettlebells?
With kettlebell training, you’ll get better results in less time. It’s also a great way to diversify your workout and keep your body guessing. This helps prevent fitness plateaus and challenges your muscles into growth. The best part is that you don’t even need to hit the gym!
The best kettlebells are lightweight and highly portable, which allows you to exercise on the go. You can work out anytime, anywhere. These fitness tools take less space than dumbbells or barbells, so you can store them under the bed or in a drawer.
The low price tag is a welcomed bonus. Do a quick search for “kettlebell reviews” and you’ll see how convenient these weights are. Unless you throw them off the roof, they will last you a lifetime.
Kettlebells can be used for a multitude of exercises, such as the squat, single-legged deadlift, Turkish get-ups, lunges, and two-arm swings. They’re also perfect for the clean and press, a complex full body movement that hits nearly every muscle. You can use these weights for VO2 max training, core training, balance training, strength and conditioning, fat loss, or rehabilitation.
The key is to start with a light load so you can build up your strength and endurance. As you progress, you can gradually increase the weight.
What Makes a Good Kettlebell?
The best kettlebell should match your fitness level and overall strength. It also needs to be the right size and feel comfortable in your hand. Poorly designed, cheap weights may lead to injuries and affect lifting form.
Most women start with 8kg kettlebells and work their up to 12kg or 16kg kettlebells. Men usually begin with 16kg and go up to 24kg or 48kg kettlebells. In addition to size and weight, it’s important to consider the handle, material, and shape.
A good kettlebell will almost float in your hand. Its handle shouldn’t be too smooth or too rough. It also needs to be thick enough to strengthen your wrists, hands, fingers, and firearms. The international standard handle thickness is 33 millimeters for women and 35 millimeters for men.
Steel and cast-iron models are the most durable. They may rust over time, but this won’t affect their functionality. Vinyl and plastic kettlebells tend to wear out quickly, and may not be the right size or shape. Those with rubber coating have a tendency to bounce, which increases injury risk.
If you’re just getting started, one kettlebell should be enough. As your strength goes up, get a second one. Do a quick search online for kettlebell reviews and kettlebell comparisons. Read what customers have to say about your favorite models.
These tools are meant to last for years, so invest in a quality model. Consider the handle finish, width, seam, and diameter. Check the kettlebell base to make sure it has a completely flat bottom. Purchase from a trusted brand, such as Rep Fitness, Kettlebell Kings, or CAP Barbell.
So, are you ready to buy your first kettlebell? With so many options available, you may feel confused. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the best kettlebells out there. These models are made from quality materials and range in size, offering stability and comfort. From Russian twists and deck squats to renegade rows, they can be used for hundreds of different exercises.
1. Editor’s Choice: Rep Fitness Kettlebells
Touted as some of the best kettlebells on the market, these weights boast a smooth texture and matte powder-coated finish. They’re marked in both kilograms and pounds, featuring color-coded rings at the base of the handles.
This model conforms to the Russian standards of weights and comes in various sizes, from 1 kilogram to 44 kilograms. Thus, it should be easy to find the right size for your strength level. The bottom is flat, which helps increase safety and prevents injuries. The handle feels comfortable in your hand, making it ideal for high reps and heavy lifting.
The Rep Fitness kettlebells are ideal for core training, swings, cleans, walking lunges, snatches, and much more. Actually, you can use them for just about any exercise. They won’t fly off your hands and hit the floor or walls as other models do.
Made from cast iron, these weights are durable and sturdy. The matte textured finish holds chalk very well and doesn’t chip. Even if you sweat, they won’t become slippery.
On top of that, you simply can’t beat the price! The 90-day warranty is a plus. If you’re not happy with your purchase, you can return the kettlebells within three months. That should give you plenty of time to decide whether or not this model meets your needs.
According to most customers, the Rep Fitness kettlebells offer great value for money. They’re durable and meet the highest quality standards. Our team tried them and we’re more than happy with the results! Actually, these were the most comfortable kettlebells we’ve tried so far!
- Well-established brand
- Color-coded around the handles
- Durable matte powder-coated finish
- Flat bottom for stability
- Smooth, comfortable handles
- Markings in both pounds and kilograms
- Can be used for a multitude of exercises
- 90-day money back guarantee
- Fast shipping
- Competitive price
- The handle may feel a little short for users with larger hands
2. Best Cast Iron: CAP Barbell Cast Iron Kettlebell
The Cast Iron Kettlebell from CAP Barbell ranks second on our list. After testing, we’ve concluded it’s the best cast iron kettlebell money can buy. It comes in 12 different sizes ranging from 10 to 80 pounds. Its solid construction and classic design make it ideal for all ages and fitness levels. The handle is sturdy and easy to hold, with a textured, wide handle grip. You won’t lose grip even if your hands sweat.
Another thing we like is its flat base, which allows you to use it for push-ups. It also makes storage easier. The shiny black enamel gives it a professional appearance, while the smooth handle provides a secure grip. The bell and handle are cast as a solid unit, offering durability and comfort. Some users say that the handle is too narrow. However, it depends on how large your hand is.
Unlike most kettlebells, the weight displayed on the ball is accurate. Additionally, the flat base doesn’t rock, which helps prevent injuries. This model has no seams or weak points, and can be used for hundreds of different exercises. Its price fits any budget. There are fancier kettlebells available, but this one is both affordable and sturdy.
- Professional design
- One piece cast
- Sturdy construction
- Flat bottom
- Comfortable wide handle
- Enamel flaking
3. Best Vinyl: SPRI Deluxe Vinyl Kettlebell
If you’re looking for a fancier model that doesn’t break the bank, check out the SPRI Deluxe Vinyl Kettlebell. It’s available in 13 different sizes, including 10, 12, 18, 30, and 50 pounds. The lightest model weighs just five pounds, so it’s perfect for beginners. Each size has a different color, which makes it easy to find your match. The 10-pound model is red, the 30-pound model is green, the 45-pound model is purple, and so on.
The Vinyl Kettlebell from SPRI Deluxe combines functionality and style. Its bright colors and sturdy design will catch your eye. This model features a durable vinyl coating, so it doesn’t damage the floor. Its handles provide a comfortable grip, which helps prevent injuries. It’s ideal for squats, snatches, push-ups, rotational swings, and other strength exercises.
This kettlebell was designed for both personal and group training. When used properly, it builds muscle power, strength, and endurance while burning fat. SPRI, its manufacturer, has been offering fitness equipment for over three decades. Its products are well-known for their durability and unique design.
Basically, this model is an updated version of the traditional kettlebell. It’s color-coded by weight and looks better, featuring a smooth handle, durable coating, and high resistance. Since each kettlebell is sold separately, you only buy the size you need. As you get stronger, you can purchase a heavier weight.
- Comfortable handles that prevent slipping
- Durable vinyl coating
- Color-coded by weight
- Wide range of weight options
- Versatile design
- Solid construction
- Rubber texture on the bottom to prevent floor damage
- The handle may be too small for some users
4. Best Bang for your Buck: Kettlebell Kings Cast Iron Kettlebell
Kettlebell Kings is a leading manufacturer and supplier of kettlebell kits, steel kettlebells, powder coat kettlebells, and much more. The company has been in business for years, offering a wide range of fitness gear at affordable rates.
The Cast Iron Kettlebell is no exception. Featuring a modern design and smooth handles, this model offers the best bang for your buck. It’s one of the few kettlebells specially designed for home use.
The Cast Iron Kettlebell from Kettlebell Kings comes in seven sizes, such as 10, 35, and 60 pounds. It’s crafted out of a single piece of cast iron, so it will last for years. Its flat base allows for easy storage and doesn’t roll around while you’re doing rows or push-ups. Unlike most models, this one is gravity case, which ensures precise weight. The handles are smooth and easy to hold, offering maximum comfort.
Another aspect that caught our attention is the free shipping. Considering how heavy kettlebells are, you’ll save a fortune on shipping. On top of that, the Cast Iron Kettlebell comes with a lifetime warranty. Its convenient price shouldn’t be overlooked either. All in all, this is one of the best kettlebells to buy if you want quality and convenience.
- Smooth, easy-to-grip handles
- Accurate weight
- Flat base for easy storage
- Increased safety
- Extra durable
- Unique design
- Crafted from a single piece of iron
- Available in seven different sizes
- Affordable price
- Quality finish
- Lifetime warranty
- Free shipping
- May not be wide enough for two-handed exercises
5. Best Budget Kettlebell: CAP Barbell Vinyl Coated Cement Kettlebell
Just because you’re on a budget, it doesn’t mean you can’t have your own home gym. The Vinyl Coated Cement Kettlebell from CAP Barbell has a low price tag without compromising quality. It features a protective vinyl shell, a wide handle, and a textured bottom that prevents slipping. The coating helps reduce wear and tear, so you’ll be able to use it for a long time.
Our editors tested this model and were more than happy with the results. This sturdy kettlebell can be used for just about any workout, toning the entire body. In the long run, it helps build strength, power, and balance. The weight ranges from five to 20 pounds, making it ideal for home exercises. Moreover, the CAP Barbell Vinyl Coated Cement Kettlebell comes in a wide array of colors, such as blue, orange, and black.
The bottom has a grained texture, which increases stability and prevents floor damage. The ball is filled with cement, so it’s going to last for years. We also love the wide handle as it offers enough room for your hands and feels comfortable. This kettlebell is cheaper than most models available on the market, so you can purchase one anytime.
- Ideal for beginners
- Protective vinyl shell for increased durability
- Textured bottom to prevent slipping
- Available in multiple sizes
- Non-slip, non-friction grips
- Easy to clean surface
- Designed for indoor and outdoor use
- The wide handle is perfect for users with large hands
- Large base that ensures stability
- Easy to handle
- Since the ball is made of cement, forceful drops may cause cracks
- Its large size may restrict certain movements
- Some users say that the plastic coating is slick and slippery
Choosing the best kettlebell isn’t easy. These free weights come in all shapes and sizes. Their quality and price may vary from one brand to another. First of all, decide what type of kettlebell is right for you. Most brands provide the following models:
- Cast Iron (Standard) Kettlebells
These kettlebells are cast as one solid piece. The handle is thick and smooth, which helps prevent chafing. The surface has no burrs, seams, or welds. In general, they get larger as the weight goes up. Their base is flat, which allows for easy storage and handling. These models are the closest thing to classic Russian kettlebells. They’re used by the U.S. military and pro athletes alike. Some models are covered in vinyl or plastic for aesthetic purposes.
- Competition Kettlebells
Competition kettlebells are uniformly sized and crafted from steel. They look the same, regardless of their weight. These models have a large surface area, so they sit comfortably on your arm or shoulder during training. Unlike standard kettlebells, they’re color-coded to international standards:
Yellow – 4 kilograms
Red – 8 kilograms
Light blue – 10 kilograms
Black – 20 and 24 kilograms
Dark blue – 16 kilograms
Green – 12 kilograms
If you exercise at home, these weights can make a colorful addition to your living room. They’re ideal for those who want to take their training to a whole new level. The downside is that they don’t provide the same variety of grips as standard kettlebells do. This may be an issue for people with larger hands.
Adjustable kettlebells or stackables appeal to those who work out at home. They have a square or oval shape, and allow you to add or remove the plates. Unfortunately, these models carry a higher risk of injury. If you don’t load the plates correctly, they can fly off and hurt you. Additionally, they’re more expensive compared to standard and competition kettlebells.
Most stores also sell water bells, sandbells, kettlebell sandbags, and other free weights. However, cast iron kettlebells are the most advantageous due to their versatility and price. Unless you’re training for a competition, you don’t really need a special model.
Avoid kettlebells that are covered in vinyl or plastic as well as those with sharp edges, small or large handle spacing, thick handles, or rounded body. They’re difficult to use and increase injury risk.
Next, determine which kettlebell size is right for you. For the start, buy just two sizes – one lighter and one heavier. In general, 8kg kettlebells are a good starting weight for women. Men can opt for 12kg kettlebells. It may not seem much, but it actually feels very heavy at first. Don’t sacrifice form for weight. Begin with a small load to stay safe and prevent injuries.
Ideally, look for models with smooth, quality handles. Make sure that the space between the main bell and the handle is at least 55 millimeters. A handle with rough edges will hurt your hands and affect lifting form. Beware that painted kettlebells are prone to wear and tear, and can chip more. On top of that, they don’t follow a standard size or shape. Other aspects to consider are the ball diameter, grip width, and overall design.
The kettlebell comparisons featured in this guide should give you a pretty good idea of what to look for. Let’s say you’re just getting started. In this case, you can choose a less expensive model that allows you to practice basic exercises. Right now, it’s no need to spend a fortune on competition kettlebells and fancier models. Later, you can go for a heavier model or one that’s more sophisticated. Either way, watch your lifting form to prevent injuries.
Kettlebells with a flat or textured bottom are safer and carry lower injury risk. Additionally, they are easier to store when not in use. Choose a model with clear weight markings. Color-coded kettlebells are the best. Decide whether you want a vinyl, cement, or cast iron kettlebell. This will reflect on the price and durability.
Vinyl and cast-iron weights are both suitable for home and gym exercises. Cast-iron models can have a vinyl coating to reduce noise and protect the floor. In general, they are made from a single mold of iron. Some feature a rubber bottom, which keeps you safe when doing planks and other floor exercises.
Contrary to popular belief, the vinyl coating doesn’t change the kettlebell size or shape. Its role is to prevent damage to the floor. So, you can choose a basic cast-iron weight or one coated with vinyl. It’s matter of personal preference.
Another option would be a cement kettlebell. This model can crack more easily, so you need to handle it with caution. If you drop the weight on the floor, it can break. The main advantage of using cement kettlebells is their low price.
In case you’re not sure what to choose, go to a sports equipment store. Check out the best kettlebells available, write down the brand and model, and then do a quick search online. Read kettlebell reviews and compare prices for the desired model. Research the manufacturer and see what customers are saying about its products. Stay away from cheap models as don’t meet any safety standards.
Online stores usually have lower prices than brick-and-mortar stores, so you could get a fantastic deal. Some even provide a lifetime warranty or free shipping. Just make sure you know what you’re looking for. Also, remember to check the customer service of the company. If your new kettlebell breaks or fails to meet your expectations, you want to make sure you’ll get a refund.
Beware that prices may vary drastically from one brand to another, and from store to store. Thus, it pays off to do comparison shopping. Simply look for kettlebell reviews on forums and blogs, compare prices, and make a choice accordingly. Eventually, you can search for discount codes and vouchers to cut costs.
Kettlebell Training FAQ
Whether you’re a gym buffs or a complete newbie, you might have questions about kettlebell training. After all, some people have been training for years and yet, they have never used kettlebells. We’ve compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions on this topic to help you understand how kettlebells work and why they’re so great!
Why use kettlebells over TRX, dumbbells, or medicine balls?
Kettlebells, dumbbells, medicine balls, and TRX are among the most popular pieces of gym equipment. They all provide a full body workout, develop strength and endurance, and promote fat loss. What makes them different is their mechanism of action.
For instance, kettlebells can be gripped in a multitude of ways. The weight is unbalanced, which forces your muscles to work harder. Dumbbells only allow for a wide or narrow grip, and are balanced from end to end. Moreover, kettlebells have a round shape, which creates a pulling effect. This helps strengthen your tendons and challenges your muscles into growth.
Compared to suspension training (TRX), kettlebells are more effective for developing strength and power. The extra weight promotes muscle growth and makes you stronger overall. TRX exercises emphasize balance training and conditioning. The same goes for medicine balls. These fitness tools have their perks but can not replace free weights. With kettlebells, you’ll get a full body workout in less time.
How long are kettlebell workouts?
There are no set rules on how long your workout should be. It all comes down to your goals. It’s recommended not exceed 45-60 minutes. Kettlebell training is challenging and puts stress on your muscles and central nervous system. Give your body time to recover and don’t go overboard.
How many calories does kettlebell training burn?
The amount of calories burned during kettlebell training depends on several factors, such as:
- Fitness level
- Body weight
- Workout duration and intensity
- The exercises performed
- The number of reps and sets
- Recovery time between sets
Depending on what exercises you choose, you can expect to burn over 600 calories per hour. In a study conducted by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), subjects burned 400 calories in just 20 minutes of kettlebell training. These free weights recruit multiple muscles and raise your heart rate, which explains their fat burning power. The more intense your workout, the higher your calorie expenditure will be.
When to increase your kettlebell training weight?
The human body has an amazing ability to adapt to exercise. Training with the same amount of weight will lead to plateaus. Thus, it’s essential to gradually increase the stress placed on your muscles. This principle is known as progressive overload, laying the foundation upon which strength training is built.
Considering this fact, it makes sense to increase the load when training with kettlebells. How soon you should do it depends on your progress and fitness level. Compromising form for the sake of weight will lead to injury. Once you’re able to complete at least eight reps with perfect form, add more weight. If your reps get bad, reduce the load.
These recommendations may vary based on the type of exercise. For instance, you should consider sizing up when a set of 20 kettlebell swings gets easy. If you’re able to perform a set of three bottoms-up presses with good form, increase the weight. In general, endurance exercises require more reps compared to strength workouts. Those who compete in the kettlebell sport snatch as many as 180 reps with the same weight before moving on.
Are kettlebells safe?
Just like any other workout, kettlebell training carries some risks. Common mistakes, such as using bad form or suddenly increasing the load, can lead to injury. Kettlebells are safe as long as you use them the right way. For instance, if you have knee pain and perform kettlebell squats, your pain might get worse. The same will happen if you use a barbell or dumbbells.
Kettlebell training is not something you can master overnight. To stay safe, start with basic exercises and low weights. Progression is key. Otherwise, you’re playing with fire.
It’s recommended to begin with single-arm cleans and bodyweight squats followed by kettlebell squats, kettlebell deadlifts, two-arm cleans, dead cleans, single-arm swings, and single-arm swing cleans. As you progress, try more advanced exercises, such as the push press, strict press, snatch, Turkish get-ups, and jerks. If you start with snatches from day one, you might end up with an injury.
In case you prefer to work out at home, choose a workout designed for newbies. Your favorite athlete might look cool doing all those snatches and jerks, but you’re not there yet. Take the time to build your strength and learn proper form.
Kettlebell training feels different than barbell or dumbbell training. Learn the proper technique for each exercise, and treat this workout with respect. If you grab a kettlebell that’s too heavy, you might not be able to control it. This may cause strains, sprains, and other injuries.
Are kettlebells good for weight loss?
Minute per minute, kettlebell training is more effective than cardio for fat loss. As we have mentioned earlier, it burns a whopping 400 calories in just 20 minutes. Moreover, it accelerates your metabolism for up to 72 hours post workout. Training with kettlebells builds muscle, which further increases your metabolic rate.
Kettlebell workouts hit multiple muscles at once, so they yield better results in less time. Think of it as cardio and strength training in one. This leads to quick calorie burn, faster metabolism, and increased endurance. You can even use kettlebells for HIIT, tabata, interval training, circuit training, and metabolic conditioning. Or you can simply pick a compound exercise, such as the snatch, and complete a few dozen reps. If you’re training at a gym, mix dumbbell, kettlebell, and barbell exercises.
Without a doubt, kettlebells are fantastic for weight loss. However, you still have to watch your diet and eat mindfully. Kettlebell training can not compensate for bad eating. If you grab a bag of chips right after leaving the gym, don’t expect results. These fitness tools can do wonders for your body, but diet has the biggest impact.
Since kettlebell training is more demanding than other workouts, you need quality fuel. Protein, complex carbs, and good fats should come first on your list. If you starve yourself, you’ll lose muscle. On top of that, your metabolic rate will drop.
We hope this guide helped you get a better picture of kettlebell training and its perks. These fitness tools have a long history behind and have stood the test of time. They’re suitable for people for all ages and can transform your life forever. Whether you’re struggling with weight loss or having a hard time building muscle, look no further.
The best thing about this training method is that is can be easy or as difficult as you make it. You can use kettlebells alone, or include them in your training routine to mix things up. These fitness tools offer simplicity in training, improve joint stability, and help you build a strong foundation. They also hit those hard-to-reach muscles that support your spine and joints.
Even those who hate exercise will love kettlebell training. It’s fun, addictive, and convenient! This workout method will teach you new skills and exercises, so it’s virtually impossible to get bored. As your body will change and improves its shapes, you’ll experience a great feeling of achievement. Nothing motivates people more than seeing quick results.
Once you start to use these tools, your workouts will never be the same. Just think about how many exercises you can try! From reverse lunges and good mornings to goblet squats and two-handed swings, there are literally hundreds of options available. Many of these exercises can not be done with dumbbells or barbells, so you’ll learn something new.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this guide and will use it to choose the best kettlebells and start your adventure. Kettlebell training will bring you closer to your goals and help you reach peak performance. No matter your age or fitness level, you can try it out. After just one workout, you’ll be hooked!