Kettlebells are a great piece of equipment. They can combine strength, flexibility and endurance in one workout. However, understanding all of the available options and choosing the best kettlebell for your training needs can be difficult. We have created this in-depth guide with all of the information you need to make the right decision.
Competition style kettlebells are all the same size regardless of weight within their respective collection. For example, an 8KG kettlebell is the same size and dimension of a 48KG kettlebell
The reason for this is so that athletes:
1. Don’t gain any advantage over competitors.
2. Don’t have to adjust their technique when increasing the weight.
Consistency of size is achieved by hollowing out the centre of the lightest kettlebells. This allows the distance between the base and the handle to remain consistent.
Asides from competition lifters, this model is a great choice for users who have already developed a good technique. The wide base is also perfect for performing floor based exercises. However, they are not the best model for double-handed exercises due to the handle shape being narrow in comparison to non-competition bells.
Main takeaway: Choose the competition range if you want to train in highly technical movements, such as a snatch.
You will also see, the handles are not painted. The intention behind this is so that any paint chips, which is inevitable over years of kettlebell usage, does not affect your grip and tear at your skin.
Cast Iron Kettlebells
Cast Iron kettlebells are seen in the industry as the most 'classic' style. This kettlebell is made of iron. The size and dimension of each kettlebell varys greatly based on weight. The larger the kettlebell, the more it weighs. Kettlebells which are visually smaller in size and dimension weigh less. The width of the handle and the other parts of the kettlebell also varys accordingly and are scaled in keeping with other features.
Main takeaway: These kettlebells are perfect if you are looking to purchase a wide range of different weights at an affordable price point.
What Weight Kettlebell To Buy?
Kettlebell Weight is one of the most important things to be taken into consideration. Most often, men using kettlebells for the first time can start with a one pood kettlebell - approximately 16kg. You can increase the weight according to your workout.
See the below guidance on kettlebell weights. Choose the ideal one that suits your fitness goals. These are standard recommendations, but not necessarily based on knowing you individually.
- Women: 8-12kg
- Men: 20-24kg
Generally, kettlebells are cast from a single mould. Every so often, you will find bells that have been made from two separate pieces.
However, it is likely that two-piece bells may not act as safely or securely as a single mould kettlebell would, so I would advise avoiding those.
The cast iron kettlebells that are made from a single mould, can sometimes have sharp seams under the handle, so ensure you check for this and are satisfied with the quality of the finished product before buying.
In order to protect your hands from being injured or pinched, you must ensure the handle is finished smoothly and well rounded. There should be no welds around the handle edges of a quality kettlebell or rough seams from unsatisfactory moulding.
At the moment, a lot of kettlebells are being sold with ‘sleeves’ around the body of the bell. This can act as cushioning for the user to protect them from the force of the kettlebell and to make the bell more comfortable to use.
If you are not entirely sure if the bell has been welded or moulded, do not panic. A detailed observation of the bell to check it is definitely secure and solid should suffice. You will be all good if you cannot find any faults in the product and that the bell has no seams or abrasive edges to pinch or catch on your skin.
Best Kettlebell Handle Size
The handle size of competition kettlebells should remain the same throughout the varying range of kettlebells weights (33mm in diameter). This is one of the advantages of paying slightly more for thecompetition-stylee kettlebells.
There can be a lot of variation in handle size amongst other styles of kettlebells. Generally speaking, a very thin kettlebell handle will indicate a poorer quality kettlebell. Instead, try opting for a kettlebell handle size somewhere in the region of 30mm (as a minimum guide) and 40mm (as a maximum guide).
Anything below 30mm would be too thin to maintain a comfortable grip of. On the other hand, anything above 40mm would be too thick to maintain a comfortable grip.
When the handles are too thick, maintaining a constant grip on the kettlebell can cause unnecessary extra stress on your forearms. Also, a more serious but possible outcome when a kettlebell handle is too thick, is the possibility of losing grip while carrying out a technical movement and dropping the kettlebell in a dangerous manner.
If the manufacturer lists the sizes, ensure the handle size is between 30mm – 40mm and you will be all good!
The finish of cast iron kettlebells is a durable, smooth, painted finish. The reason for this is to stop the product from rusting and to provide you with a low impact, comfortable and smooth surface against your skin while providing the necessary amount of grip.
The finish of a cast iron kettlebell is specified by the brand making them and their desired preference. Some use a powder coating process, some use epoxy and some bake their paint on. It is important to note that paint which has been epoxied is more prone to chipping than other methods. Therefore, the lifespan of a cast iron kettlebell which has been epoxied would be less than a cast iron which has been powder coated or baked.
Remember it is inevitable that - regardless of what type of finish is used by the company and which finish you opt for - any finish over time will chip and wear away to an extent. However, it is important that you choose an option which will serve you well. Comfort and a finish which will not lead to blisters or pain when moving repeatedly around in your hands is essential.
As all kettlebells will eventually start to wear, your choice of kettlebell should be chosen largely based on which finish you prefer most. Some people opt for a powder coated finish as it provides more grip. It could be compared to the feel of very smooth sandpaper and initially, your skin will have to adjust slightly to the feel of the kettlebell. Meanwhile, other people like a baked or epoxied finish as it has a smoother finish and feel. A rougher finish will lead to less movement. Therefore, fewer blisters. A smoother surface will allow for more movement and friction. More movement and friction could mean more blisters on sweaty hands.
A lot of people personally prefer a smooth surface kettlebell due to the feel of the smooth, bare-metal finish. The feel of the bare-metal finish is more stable. If a smooth finish kettlebell is creating friction when being used, the problem is usually easily solved with some chalk for dryness and grip.
The Base Of A Good Kettlebell
If you are in a suitable store and can physically test the product, we would advise doing so. It is important to ensure it rests completely flat on the floor and that the surface is not uneven or rough.
You can do this by taking the kettlebell to an area of the store with a solid flooring surface, like tile or wood. Simply stand in a squat position above the kettlebell and place both hands on the handle. Next, apply pressure to the kettlebell by slowly exerting your weight on the bell with your hands. Lastly, ask yourself if it feels entirely solid and firm or if you can feel any movements or wobbles underneath.
If you feel confidently that you have a stable base which would not wobble, should you exert any form of body-weight force on the bell, the kettlebell is fit for purpose.
If trying the product before purchasing is not an option, pay careful attention to the product description and imagery provided and use this information to decide whether or not the bell is satisfactory.
Are Adjustable Kettlebells Any Good?
Adjustable kettlebells are something which are relatively new to the kettlebell collection. However, their popularity is growing rapidly due to their practical and slightly more cost-effective nature.
Fitness guru’s can sometimes advise that these are an excellent way to start your kettlebell collection due to their versatility and lower price point.
However, this information is somewhat misleading and deceiving. While Adjustable Kettlebells are initially more cost effective, versatile, practical and have made advancements in recent years which have enhanced their quality, they still are not a favoured option in gyms or by coaches for numerous reasons, such as:
- a wide variation of kettlebells is not necessary to kickstart your kettlebell usage.
- things can be changed and tweaked in your training to implement progression in your strength training without adding weight
-for example, you can also add extra reps, superset training sequences or change up your training routine every now and then to progress and improve technique in the beginning.
- Kettlebells are an extremely versatile product. There are endless exercise options and advanced progressions of exercises which can be worked on once a certain level of strength is achieved.
- Up to 80 reps of 1 singular Kettlebell exercises is recommended all while requiring the bell to touch your body in a number of ways throughout. Mastering this will take time.
We touched on the concept of a smooth finish earlier in this article, it is applicable here, too.
Adjustable kettlebells often tend to be more rounded in shape. Secondly, most brands of adjustable kettlebells still have gaps between weight plates which make them harder to use.
Classic kettlebells are one of the most durable, dependable pieces of equipment on the market. The kettlebell was originally designed as a piece of equipment which could be used for high impact activity. Bells should be able to be swung, dropped, tossed, snatched etc. with ease.
The more enhancements, changes and pieces added to a kettlebell to create an adjustable system, the more the bell moves away from the intended quality, intention and usage of the original product. Therefore, while they are more cost effective in the short term ... long-term, they are a lot less cost effective as they are more prone to damage while being used and ultimately, would need re-purchased more often.
This being said, modern technologies are constantly evolving and changing to replace dated ideas. It is possible that in the future, the concept of adjustable kettlebells could improve and they could become more suitable for their original intended purpose that what they are now.
Which Is The Best Kettlebell To Buy
We have provided you with all knowledge you could possibly need to make an educated decision on which kettlebell range is best suited for you.
Quality over quantity is a key point to remember while deciding. Do you want 1 or 2 professional-grade steel competition kettlebells which could be seen as an investment over a lifetime?
Or perhaps you will be more enticed by the versatility and varying options adjustable kettlebells can provide you with, regardless of the few possible drawbacks. Personally, we would not advise this option. However, everyone has different needs.
Whichever buying preference you opt for; this guide is sure to help.