To start the year, we gave our top ten kettlebells chart a good shakeup, which involved removing some older models and replacing them with three new additions.
These comprised the high-end adjustable Bowflex 840 SelectTech and the very popular Bionic Body Soft Kettlebell, while we also added the intriguing Kettle Gryp to the list. Our buyer’s guide and FAQ section also enjoyed a little refresh to bring things up to date.
While kettlebells have been in constant use since 12th-century Russia (with origins possibly spanning back as far as Ancient Greece), these incredible fitness tools have enjoyed something of a worldwide renaissance over the past few decades.
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Regardless of whether you are training for a role in the Spetsnaz or are simply looking for a new program to enhance your physical wellbeing, kettlebells are an excellent way to develop strength, muscle, balance, power and cardio fitness.
The best news is that kettlebells are now very affordable and widely available in many different weights and styles, making them a tempting addition to any home gym.
Whether you are looking for the best adjustable kettlebells or a good ol’ fashioned cast-iron model to work on your KB swings at home, you have come to the right place.
In this article, we have highlighted our top ten favorite kettlebells on the market at the moment, with brief reviews, pros and cons for each.
After this, stick around for our buyer’s guide to kettlebells, which gives you all the information you need to make an informed purchase. Let’s get moving comrade!
Weights: 8lbs to 40lbs
Material: Metal and plastics
Features: Six selectable weights, ergonomic handle, easy weight selector dial, modern design, flat base, access to 24 kettlebell instructional videos
The innovative brand Bowflex is a key name in every area of home fitness – and kettlebells are no exception! Their impressive 840 SelectTech Kettlebell is a real space saver, cramming six kettlebells into one.
With a quick twist of the selector dial, you can choose from a lightweight 8lb kettlebell right up to a considerable 40lb (with 12lb, 20lb, 25lb and 35lb in between). This is ideal as it allows you to work on developing your strength, as well as using different weights for different exercises with no need for a huge rack of kettlebells.
In addition, this package comes with digital access to 24 trainer-led technique exercises. The main downfall is the premium price tag. However, for the functionality and convenience on offer, it feels like money well spent.
What do you get when you cross a medicine ball with a kettlebell? The Bionic Body Soft Kettlebell, that’s what! This extremely popular kettlebell makes use of a soft body to protect your floor, furniture and even yourself from damage due to accidental drops (hey, it happens!).
With beginner-friendly weights ranging from 10lbs to 40lbs, it features a black synthetic leather exterior with the orange detailing adding a touch of retro. Despite being a soft kettlebell, the overall size is kept relatively compact thanks to the filling of sand and steel powder.
Price-wise the Bionic Body Soft Kettlebell is a little higher than equivalent standard kettlebells, but the peace of mind should you drop this one on your floor or – worse – foot, makes it worth the extra few bucks.
Weights: 8kgs to 32kgs
Features: Competition design conforming to regulations, painted body for easy color coding, uncoated regulation handle, flat base, clear weight markings
While general fitness users may prefer the design (and price!) of a standard cast-iron kettlebell, some athletes will only have eyes for a competition kettlebell – especially if they are training for a specific kettlebell event.
The CFF Pro collection is respected for offering a high-quality competition-grade kettlebell made entirely from steel. There is a good selection of very precise weights on offer – 8kg, 12kg, 16kg, 20kg, 24kg and 32kg – each one coming in at regulation dimensions. They are all painted for easy color coding and have an uncoated steel handle.
Overall, this is a very durable pro-grade kettlebell that will appeal to any competing athlete. However, it won’t be much good for beginners – especially considering that each kettlebell is double the price of a standard kettlebell.
Weights: 10kgs to 32kgs
Features: Cool skull design, powder-coated finish, color-coded handle ribbons, weight markings on rear, textured handle, flat base
While looks may not be the first thing you should base your decision on, it’s hard to ignore the shape of this kettlebell from Yes4All. It features an ominous skull design carved into the cold metal – talk about badass!
Cool aesthetics aside, this is a serious kettlebell. Providing you can find them on the market, this kettlebell is available in weights ranging from a beginner-friendly 10kg (22lb) up to a hefty 32kg (71lb), which are ideal for intermediate to advanced users.
It’s a well-made piece of gear, as you would hope for the considerable price tag. It’s crafted entirely from solid cast-iron with a protective black powder coating, along with an ergonomic handle and a flat base. Helpfully, each weight variation features a different color painted around the handle.
The Kettle Versa-Bell is Stamina X’s take on an adjustable kettlebell, and they succeed in delivering a versatile, durable and no-nonsense piece of gear fit for any home gym.
This fairly-priced offering features six weight options – 16lbs, 20lbs, 24lbs, 28lbs, 32lbs and 36lbs – in one kettlebell to cater for all kinds of movements, from swings to presses. Selecting your weight is simple (although takes a minute or two), with a locking pin allowing you to choose to use the 16lb shell and however many of the five 4lb steel weight plates you desire.
Unlike some other adjustable kettlebells, this one retains the traditional kettlebell design with a round body, flat base and wide cast-iron handle. The Kettle Versa-Bell also comes with a base pad to protect your floors. Hard to fault this one!
CAP Barbell is a name that always crops up on our charts for one reason – they offer simple, affordable, no-nonsense gym gear that serves its purpose! Their collection of kettlebells is proof if you ever needed it.
Impressively, these kettlebells are available from beginner-friendly 10lbs and 15lbs, right up to elite 80lb models. Each kettlebell features a classic no-frills design and is made entirely from cast-iron with no weld.
This is covered in a tough enamel finish to enhance the durability. There’s a clear weight marker on each kettlebell, along with a flat bottom, making them versatile enough for everything from renegade rows to swings. Quality control can be a little rough, but these kettlebells offer decent value for any home gym.
While some people love that old-school look of a simple cast-iron kettlebell, others prefer things slightly softer. This is where Day 1 Fitness’s popular vinyl-coated kettlebell collection comes in.
These kettlebells still offer a solid cast-iron construction to deliver a compact weight, yet this is largely covered in a colored vinyl layer that lends decent protection to hard floors and furniture. The added bonus is that it both livens up the aesthetics of the kettlebell and makes color coding very easy.
This collection comes in weights ranging from a lightweight 5lbs right up to a hefty 50lb, in increments of 5lbs. In terms of price, they offer pretty good value – certainly comparable with other cast-iron kettlebells. A worthwhile option if vinyl-coating tickles your fancy.
Weights: 10lbs to 60lbs
Features: Classic kettlebell design, corrosion-resistant painted surface, wide handle, flat base, weight markings, one-year warranty
AmazonBasics is a surprisingly solid manufacturer of basic but functional fitness gear. Most importantly, they tend to offer their gear at very competitive prices. Their kettlebell collection is excellent, rivalling many others in terms of quality and selection.
This collection comes in weights ranging from 10lbs to 60lbs, all made from solid cast-iron and enrobed in a black paint. This gives them a classic no-nonsense look while also being resistant to corrosion.
Each kettlebell features a wide handle and a flat base, which makes performing all kinds of movements simple – from deadlifts and swings, to renegade rows and pushups. The handle can be a little rough in places, but wearing gloves or a little light sanding should help if this is the case.
Wildcard alert! If you are unsure whether to buy dumbbells or kettlebells for your home gym, we have a solution – simply buy dumbbells and a Kettle Gryp, then you have the best of both worlds!
Made in San Diego, this popular plastic grip securely clasps onto the handle of most dumbbells (up to 55lbs), turning it into a kettlebell that you can swing, clean, deadlift or do pretty much anything you would with a regular kettlebell.
It’s easy to use, with a foam insert protecting the handle of your dumbbell, while the textured plastic of the wide handle gives you a good grip. Of course, the caveat is that you already need to have your own dumbbells to make the Kettle Gryp worthwhile. It therefore may not appeal to beginners who want a quick kettlebell solution.
While buying individual kettlebells will suit some people, other users may prefer a ready-made set such as this one from Best Choice Products, which offers three kettlebells for a very competitive price.
The set comes with one 5lb, one 10lb and one 15lb weight. This will be too light for anyone other than complete beginners, yet it will allow you to get to grips with fundamental kettlebell movements in a convenient way.
Each kettlebell is made with a textured black plastic shell and filled with cement to add the correct weight. Despite the plastic exterior, they still offer the same look of classic cast-iron kettlebells. The addition of clear color-coded weight markings and a sturdy tray to hold the kettlebells just enhances the convenience.
After browsing our top ten kettlebells chart above, you will notice that kettlebells come in a range of shapes, sizes and weights. Now you have the task of picking the right kind for you.
Of course, it’s not as simple as simply grabbing the first kettlebell you see. Do you want a standard or competition kettlebell? Is a soft or hard ball better? Are you picking the right weight?
It’s easy to get confused. However, the next few sections are here to help you understand the ins and outs of kettlebells more clearly.
If you had to explain a kettlebell to somebody, the classic description would be ‘a cannonball with a handle’, which is pretty accurate.
However, these days, the kettlebell has evolved and can now be so much more than a simple cast-iron ball with a simple cast-iron handle.
Kettlebells are available with many designs, all appealing to different users. There are three main categories worth noting: competition kettlebells, standard kettlebells, and adjustable kettlebells.
Competition kettlebells are those that are used for kettlebell competitions and events, and will therefore feature a regulation size and shape. They are made of steel instead of cast-iron, with a very accurate weight (usually less than a +/-3% variation). Note that the kettlebell will remain the same dimension regardless of its weight. So, an 8kg kettlebell will be the same size and shape as a 48kg kettlebell, and so on.
Competition kettlebells feature a narrow handle, usually only allowing one hand to hold it at one time. They are ideal for training for specific events, although can be just as good for general workout use. Example: CFF Pro Competition Russian Kettlebell.
Standard kettlebells are what we would consider the classic design, and make up the majority of the market. They tend to feature a cast-iron build, sometimes covered in paint or vinyl. However, you can find kettlebells with soft bodies as well.
Unlike competition kettlebells, the dimensions will change depending on the weight, with an 8lb kettlebell looking considerably smaller than an 80lb kettlebell. The handle on a standard kettlebell will be wide enough to allow gripping with two hands, so it’s ideal for any kind of kettlebell movement. Example: CAP Barbell Cast Iron Kettlebell.
Adjustable kettlebells are those that offer several kettlebell weights in one, with some means of quickly adjusting the weight. They can look a little strange, but they are excellent for home gyms, providing an easy way to progressively overload your movements without requiring a full rack of kettlebells. Example: Bowflex 840 SelectTech Kettlebell.
Whatever style you go for, the base is another important consideration – you want to have something that is flat and sturdy. This will allow you to perform floor-based movements such as press-ups and renegade rows with minimal hassle.
Next on the list are some visual features. In particular, color coding. This won’t be an issue if you are only buying one kettlebell, although if you are building a small collection, then it’s convenient to be able to quickly see which weight you are grabbing. For example, some brands will add a simple indicator to their kettlebells, such as a painted ribbon around the handle, while others will paint the entire ball in different colors.
As well as, or in lieu of, color coding, you may also find high-contrast weight markings, which are another way to quickly see the weight of the kettlebell.
Finally, in terms of aesthetics, some brands style the ball in some crazy and cool ways. For example, you can find the ball is carved to the shape of an angry gorilla, screaming howler monkey or evil skull. This wicked design certainly isn’t necessary, and will usually bump up the overall cost of the kettlebell, but can make a great talking point in your home gym.
Whatever kettlebell design you go for, you should always consider the handle as this is the main part of the kettlebell you will interact with. Luckily, unless you are buying a competition kettlebell (see above), you will have a choice of handles.
Ideally, you want a handle that is wide enough to cater for two hands. This will allow you to comfortably perform deadlifts, swings and halos.
You should also look to buy a kettlebell with a handle that isn’t too thick – especially if you are a woman or have smaller hands. You will want your hands to be able to wrap entirely around the handle, otherwise your grip may fatigue too early. If you are particularly concerned about your kettlebell grip, consider wearing a good pair of training gloves to enhance the contact.
If buying in a store, check that the handle does not have any rough or sharp edges. Even a small nick can play havoc with your hands as you begin to use the kettlebell. If this is the case, you can always file or sand a metal handle a little to smooth things over.
If buying online, the same rules apply, although you will have to rely on reviews to give insight into whether you can expect rough spots on your handle or not.
Finally, the material your kettlebell is made from will play a part in the grip offered, so let’s explore this next.
We have touched upon kettlebell materials throughout this article, but now we can look at them slightly closer.
Like CrossFit slam balls, kettlebells can be made from all kinds of material, although the most common tends to be cast-iron. This classic material gives the kettlebell good density and that traditional ‘cannonball with a handle’ look and feel.
Often this will be coated in a paint or enamel to help protect the metal from corrosion, chips and other damage. The only issue that arises here is that occasionally the painted metal will result in a slicker feeling, which can affect your grip – particularly if your hands get sweaty during workouts.
Sometimes you will find a cast-iron kettlebell that is covered in a layer of vinyl – either partly or entirely. As we have mentioned, the benefits of a vinyl coating mean it is easy to color code the kettlebells and will stop two kettlebells clanking together in use.
A vinyl covering will also protect floors and furniture to some extent. However, we are talking about small bumps or scratches here – a cast-iron kettlebell sailing towards a window will definitely smash it, regardless of whether it is covered in vinyl or not!
While most standard kettlebells are made from cast-iron, if you are buying a competition kettlebell, this will always be made from steel with a hollow core. Using steel makes these more durable than cast-iron kettlebells, although much more expensive.
If you are shopping in the cheaper end of the market, you will find kettlebells with the entire shell made from vinyl/plastic and filled with cement. This is quite a basic design, but it does the job.
The issue here is that vinyl can get a bit slippery in the hands, while the seams of the handle are prone to digging into skin. You will also only find these kettlebells are available in beginner-friendly weights – intermediates and above should look elsewhere.
Finally, if you are particularly concerned about damaging floors, furniture or yourself, look towards a soft kettlebell. These modern offerings look like a medicine ball or sandbag with a large metal handle. While still capable of holding weights of up to around 40lbs, soft balls tend to be much safer.
For example, drop a 20lb cast-iron ball onto your foot and you will usually walk (or limp!) away with at least a fracture. Dropping a 20lb soft kettlebell onto your foot will still be painful, but you won’t suffer as intense an injury as the weight is distributed over a larger area. It is also less painful as the ball hits your forearm during moves such as cleans.
The same goes for accidentally dropping or throwing the ball, with a soft ball unlikely to damage floors, walls and furniture as much as a hard ball would.
Using a soft ball does mean the kettlebell will be bulkier to use, although it can be worth the slightly more cumbersome experience for the added peace of mind.
Kettlebells have been widely used around the world since ancient times, although they have enjoyed more popularity in the west over the last few decades. This is because more people are waking up to the benefits regular kettlebell use can deliver.
But what exactly do kettlebells do for your body?
Like a good battle rope session, working out with kettlebells can combine both strength, hypertrophy and cardio conditioning into one workout, depending on what you are doing.
Used correctly, a kettlebell can work the entire body. Your quads, hamstrings and glutes take a beating during movements such as kettlebell squats and lunges, while you can also perform bicep curls, overhead presses and single-arm rows with kettlebells to work your upper body.
Some of the more explosive movements – such as the famous kettlebell swing – will target your posterior chain, and also condition your quads, core, shoulders and lats. At the same time, a swing will also train your cardiovascular fitness and help you develop speed, balance and power.
Meanwhile, because the weight of the ball is positioned slightly away from the hand, kettlebells are less stable than dumbbells. Holding them a certain way – such as the bottoms-up single-arm press – requires the recruitment of more stabilization muscles, strengthening your stability in weak areas like your shoulder joints.
Don’t forget that kettlebells are also a superb tool in your fat-loss arsenal. A study has shown that swinging a kettlebell for one minute will burn 20 calories. Doing this movement for just 30 minutes has the potential to burn 600 calories. Use them as well as traditional steady-state and high-intensity cardio, and watch the pounds melt away!
Decided to buy a kettlebell? Great! However, before diving in and grabbing the first one you see, it is important to find the right weight for you.
There is no perfect answer as to what weight you should be buying, as everybody is different. However, the weight we recommend may be heavier or lighter than you initially imagined.
Yet, it is not worth thinking, ‘I can already squat 240lb… that kettlebell will be too light’, or ‘I can only curl 20lb… that kettlebell will be too heavy’, because kettlebell training is unique.
This is because explosive kettlebell movements – such as swings or cleans – rely on the use of your entire body, and are completely different to the kind of work you would perform with dumbbells or barbells.
With that said, for men, we suggest starting with a 35lb kettlebell. Regardless of whether it seems too heavy or too light, it is a tried and tested starting weight that most average men will have great success with. If you are already familiar with kettlebells, or consider yourself pretty athletic, you may look more towards a 40lb kettlebell.
For women, a 15lb to 20lb kettlebell will be ideal to start with, allowing you to learn the basic movements in relative comfort, while still challenging your body. If you consider yourself pretty athletic, or have confidently used kettlebells in the past, you should aim for a 25lb kettlebell or thereabouts.
Of course, if you are uncomfortable even considering such weights, feel free to start with a lighter weight, which will at least allow you to develop good form in a range of movements. You will soon be able to increase the weight and see the benefits.
A final note – if you don’t mind the slightly odd designs and can afford the initially higher costs, an adjustable kettlebell is a great way to try multiple weights to find what works best for you.
Firstly, no amount of kettlebell work is going to allow you to target the fat on your belly. The reason being that you cannot specifically remove belly fat, just as you cannot specifically remove back, thigh or arm fat.
The body decides where it will lose fat from, so, to lose the extra weight around your midsection, you will need to reduce your total body fat. This is only possible by being in a consistent calorie deficit, best achieved through a combination of a good diet and exercise.
With that said, using kettlebells is an excellent way to burn calories, while developing your strength and honing a muscular body. Doesn’t sound too bad, right?
There are many kettlebell exercises you can incorporate into your fat-loss program, although moves such as the kettlebell swing are paramount. This is an insanely powerful move for developing strength and conditioning your body.
There are countless video guides on how to perform the kettlebell swing correctly, as well as many ways to add them into your training schedule. However, having an in-depth knowledge of how to perform and program multiple kettlebell movements will serve you better than reading a few quick notes online. Check out a popular program such as Pavel Tsatsouline’s ‘Simple and Sinister’ for great results.
Remember, while kettlebell workouts will boost your weekly calorie burn, it’s the kitchen where you will truly lose your belly fat. Achieve the recommended 500-calorie deficit per day through diet, and watch the weight fly off as you add kettlebells to the mix.
While you have landed on an article championing the strength and conditioning benefits of kettlebells, we would have a hard time declaring them better than dumbbells. However, the opposite is also true – we couldn’t say dumbbells are better than kettlebells!
Ultimately, kettlebells and dumbbells are different tools that work better for different purposes.
For the record, a good dumbbell has the weight balanced on the outside of each hand, whereas a kettlebell has an offset weight that is focused in one big ball.
Because of their balance, dumbbells are perfect for beginners as there is more stability and predictability as you get used to the exercises. Dumbbells are also easier to hold and generally cost less to buy – especially if you are shopping for dumbbells specifically for beginners.
Kettlebells challenge your muscles in different ways. They are excellent for explosive movements that demand the use of more muscle groups at one time, such as swings, Turkish getups, snatches and cleans. Kettlebells also tend to offer more of an aerobic element to your workout, as you repeat these explosive movements in quick succession.
Because of the offset design, a kettlebell’s center of gravity is slightly away from your hand, which leads to instability. This is great for supplying a new challenge to muscles that may need some invigoration, while it’s also great for functional training (because, let’s face it, how many things in life are actually well-balanced?!).
In addition to things like cleans and swings, you can use a kettlebell for many dumbbell exercises, such as renegade rows, bicep curls, overhead presses, goblet squats and lunges. Because of the instability, a seemingly simple movement – such as a curl – requires more stabilization muscles and will work your body in a different way to a dumbbell.
In short, beginners to lifting will be better off learning the fundamentals with dumbbells, which offer an inexpensive, balanced and traditional way to build solid muscle and strength.
If you are more advanced and looking for a fresh challenge – and/or want to put the emphasis on developing explosive power while losing weight – it will be worth making use of kettlebells.
However, there really is no need to choose between the two. There is nothing to say you cannot take advantage of both kettlebells and dumbbells in one program or even one workout. Mix things up, challenge your body in different ways, and see real results!
Whether you are about to embark on a Russian kettlebell training program or simply want to add a series of swings to your weekly workout, buying a kettlebell or two for your home gym is an excellent idea – and one that won’t cost the earth.
After reading this article you should have a good idea about what style and weight you need, and where to start looking.
Our top ten chart is packed with inspiration, although the kettlebell market is huge – be sure to browse around for something that appeals to you. Good luck with your training!