The best kettlebells are more than just heavy iron orbs with a handle. Well, the simplest cast iron kettlebells might actually be just that, but modern adjustable kettlebells are more sophisticated home gym equipment that can help you build functional muscle and lose some of that flab, all in the same time.
Perhaps you fancy flinging one around at home, as part of your quest to build the best home gym? Then you'll be wanting nothing but the best kettlebells for home. The best dumbbells remain the most popular choice, but 'bells are an ideal counterpart to them, working your different muscle groups in different ways. Just be careful if you have fragile floor coverings or low ceilings, that's all we're saying.
These broad-handled little bundles of fun offer solid muscle building resistance with the added delight of an intense cardio workout, and if used correctly, can condense a lengthy gym routine into one short, sweaty swinging sesh – try this kettlebell full body workout if you don't believe us.
Sounds a bit far fetched? The American Council on Exercise has conducted research into kettlebells that proves regular users not only benefit from strength gains, but also a marked increase in aerobic capacity, dynamic balance and, best of all, a dramatic increase in core strength.
Where to buy the best kettlebells right now?
- Shop kettlebells at Amazon
- Shop kettlebells at Mirafit
- Shop kettlebells at Decathlon
- Shop kettlebells at JTX Fitness
- Shop kettlebells at Sweatband.com
- Shop for kettlebells at Walmart
- Shop for kettlebells at Amazon
- Shop kettlebells at ONNIT
- Shop kettlebells at Kettlebell Kings
- Shop kettlebells at Eleiko US
How to choose the best kettlebell for you
Unlike dumbbells, kettlebells can take a little time to get used to. It's definitely worth seeking advice at your gym on the correct form to avoid injury. Once mastered, however, the kettlebell will become a regular staple in your fitness regime.
These compact weights are small enough to fit into even the smallest rooms and the majority of workouts require just one kettlebell, meaning you could enjoy some fat-torching training time from the comfort of your own home for less than a tenner, as long as your home has literally enough room to swing a cat (nb: don't actually swing a cat in order to ascertain this).
If you're really short of space, you could check out the JaxJox KettlebellConnect, which is a digital play on Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbell, offering a spread of weights in one neat package. More on adjustable kettlebells and how they differ from their cast iron counterparts can be read here: adjustable kettlebell vs cast iron kettlebell.
It's a good idea to spend a little bit more to get a product that has been built to last. Where vinyl 'bells could save you a few quid, they can be prone to cracking and splitting, plus the handle seams on cheaper models can be scratchy and uncomfortable.
A solid cast iron kettlebell – or, even better, those with smooth steel handles – tend to be the most comfortable and are also sturdy enough to survive a nuclear attack.
Finally, it's also worth noting the handle clearance from the bell (or 'window', to give it the correct title) and its diameter. Larger hands could find certain 'bells difficult to grip and comfortably on the forearm, which is required in burly overhead press exercises.
What is a good weight for a kettlebell?
Those venturing out into the world of kettlebells for the first time should go easy on the weight, as the gruelling sessions will prove impossible if you can't lift the bloody thing above your head. That said, opting for a puny 2kg kettlebell could mean you're not facing enough resistance to thoroughly challenge the muscle. If you can, head to a gym or local fitness store and try out a few weights until one feels right.
An 8- or 10-kilo kettlebell might be plenty heavy enough for beginners and intermediate 'bell-swingers should be able to comfortably handle 16- or even 24-kilo versions. If you aren't planning on flooding your home gym by adding more and more kettlebells to your collection as you progress, you can try unilateral kettlebell swings where you alternate between the two arms at each swing. This can add intensity without having to go heavier.
Is 20 minutes enough for a kettlebell workout?
Any length of exercise is better than not doing any exercise at all, so from this perspective, a 20-minute kettlebell workout is plenty long enough. If you're short on time, you can always try circuit and/or metcon workouts. The best kettlebell workout we've seen so far can be done in 10 minutes and even harder workouts, the ones you're likely to perform if you tried the 10,000 swings kettlebell challenge, won't last longer than 30 minutes.
Most kettlebells workouts are modular and you can do them for as long as you like, such as this 2-move full body kettlebell workout. Others, like the kettlebell get up or the kettlebell swing, are a full workout in just one move and can be done for as long as you wish.
Ever wondered what the difference is between kettlebells and dumbbells? We'll explain in our dumbbell vs kettlebell article. Also, have you ever wondered what the difference is between competition and training kettlebells? We have the answer for that too here: competition vs training kettlebells. Both are a good pre-workout read.
Without further ado, below is the list of the best kettlebells, for your reading pleasure.
The best kettlebells, in order of preference
The ONNIT Primal kettlebell range is full of personality. The different weight options depict different type of apes: the small half-pood 'bell is a howler monkey while the largest, two-and-a-half-pood kettlebell has the face of Bigfoot.
But it's not just about looks. ONNIT Primal kettlebells are made of chip-resistant iron and therefore are super durable. For the same reason, they might not work all that well on hard floors as they might damage it, should they not be placed properly.
The Primal kettlebells have a 'fat grip' which is better for improving grip strength and especially good for two handed kettlebell exercises such as kettlebell swings and upright rows. If you find one in stock, we strongly advise buying them as soon as possible.
JTX Fitness is one of the most promising, up-and-coming fitness equipment manufacturer, at least in the UK. Its products are reasonably priced – definitely on the cheap side – but represent a good quality and are highly functional.
The JTX neoprene-covered kettlebells are a good example of this. They are made of cast iron and come equipped with a thick handle, the former being great for durability and the latter for improving grip. The neoprene sleeve over the cast iron body will help keeping the floors intact too.
On the downside, the kettlebells are not perfect and on multiple items we found small imperfections, probably from the mould not fitting perfectly or the iron not setting in the mould just right, that could cause discomfort. A small pointy bit on the handle can result in a bruised palm after a gruelling kettlebell swing session.
Nothing that can't be amended with a little bit of filing or patching up, though! And for the price, these imperfections are not only acceptable but also somewhat expected. Otherwise, you would keep on thinking, where is the catch? There is none: these are just decent kettlebells for a decent price. End of story.
We even compared these bad boys against another cheap kettlebell here: JTX Neoprene Kettlebell vs Again Faster Powder Coated Kettlebell. In case you need some more inspiration before you buy.
TRX cast iron kettlebells might perceived as the real deal but if you place a Gymreapers cast iron kettlebell side-by-side a TRX one, it would be hard to tell the difference. They look the same, feel the same and even made of the same material. They all sport flat, non-wobble bottoms, colour coded handles and an engraved logo at the front of the kettlebell.
The difference is mainly felt in your wallet: while you will have to pay the premium price TRX kettlebells, the Gymreapers variety will a bit of extra money in the pocket. It's not crazy cheaper, but cheaper nevertheless, all without compromising on quality.
As expected of reasonably-priced, quality kettlebells, the Gymreapers Cast Iron Kettlebell is on short supply and you will have to keep your eyes peeled not to miss when they are back in stock. Signing up for stock alerts and visiting the Gymreapers website often is highly recommended.
• Bowflex SelectTech 840 kettlebell review: your new home gym staple weight
Admittedly the Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell looks more like an actual kettle than a home weight, but don't let the looks deceive you. Under the plastic shell, you'll find a set a weights which you can adjust with the dial on the top, making it easier to switch weights between exercises.
As in the case with most one-size-fits all solutions, the Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell is trying to appeal to all whilst fails to please the individuals; it is definitely more space saving than having six different kettlebells laying around in your one-bed flat, but it is also rather bulky, making it a bit less convenient to work out with doing one handed moves.
Saying that, it is not all that difficult to get used to the shape and the size of the Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell and despite its obvious drawbacks, it should probably be the go-to kettlebell to anyone with limited space in their homes.
The Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell is especially suited for two-handed exercises, like the kettlebell swing, but you can also easily use it for single leg deadlifts too. Some might feel a bit less inclined to use the Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell for overhead exercises due to the bottom of the being open – exposing the weight plates inside – you can doctor this by holding the handle firmly and pointing it away from you as you move the kettlebell.
• Read our full JaxJox KettlebellConnect review here
You may have noticed that a number of dumbbell manufacturers have started offering selectable systems that negate the need to fill your house with a spread of weights.
Well, JaxJox has taken this idea one step further with its electronically-adjustable kettlebell system, which offers a spread of 5kg-19kg in a singly, albeit slightly bulky, unit.
It sits on a neat base - that is either plugged into a wall or charged up for workouts on the fly - and users simply toggle a button to quickly swap between the required weights.
In addition to this, it can be synched via Bluetooth to a smartphone app that offers a bunch of different workout guides and advice on what weight to select for individual exercises.
It's all very clever but we found the unit a bit bulky and misshapen compared to regular steel dumbbells, while weights inside the outer unit rattle a bit mid-swing.
Plus, you'll have to invest in two of these if you want the ultimate kettlebell workout (squats, two-hand overhead press etc.), and that could get expensive.
The king of suspension weight training has long sounded the bell for kettlebells, as the lumps of iron make the perfect companion to spruce up any dangling Suspension Trainer workout.
Its premium line of kettlebells are all beautifully finished and each one has been put through a "premium gravity cast moulding process", which is said to increase durability. It also results in that lovely, flat bottom, which makes its easier to rest the kettlebell on the floor when switching hands during an arduous squat routine. The smooth and consistent finish feels good in the hand, too.
TRX has added a splash of colour to the handles, making it simple to spy the correct weight if swapping between kettlebells mid-workout.
I'd say the 16kg unit is the one to go for if you're a bloke in reasonable shape, but there's a good spread of weights, making this one piece of fitness equipment that will likely outlast the fickle New Year's resolution to shed a few pounds.
Wolverson Fitness has harnessed its many years of experience in knitting out the the UK National Kettlebell Teams when designing and producing its range of superior quality 'bells.
Modern casting methods means each bell is formed out of a single piece of metal, meaning no joins or welds, while a distinct lack of cheap plastic handles ensures they come with a lifetime guarantee.
They are beefy old units, with the option of scaling the dizzying heights of 32kg kettlebells (not for the faint hearted) but handle size, shape and overall design have been designed with serious lifting in mind.
Don't fret, if these prove a little daunting to the introductory kettlebell lifter you can always check out the slightly less hardcore range, which is still brilliantly constructed.
The perfect antithesis to the digital delights of the aforementioned JaxJox is a good, old fashioned selection of kettlebells. This spread of 8kg to 28kg will last a lifetime, with the heaviest 'bells likely only reserved for the pros.
Rebel kettlebells don't come cheap but they are engineered to last, fashioned from premium-grade Iron Ore, not scrap iron (as with cheaper alternatives) and using a one-piece cast mould to ensure the kettlebells feel well balanced in the handand built to last.
The powder coated finish means they won't flake, chip or rust when covered in sweat, too.
We don't know many professional kettlebell athletes but we are pretty sure they are very aware of Gorilla Sports and its range of competition-spec swingers.
With very strict regulations on dimensions and the aperture of the window (the handle, to you and me), these solid steel numbers are really only for the very serious enthusiasts out there.
Each solid steel unit is individually priced, with the weedier 12kg model costing around £50. Expect to part with a lot more for the heaviest 40kg kettlebells.
It's not always a good idea to go out and blow a large sum on workout equipment on a get-fit whim. Nor is it worth risking a trip to the chiropractor thanks to overtly heavy weights.
If you're new to the whole kettlebell thing, this vinyl number from Opti is a real bargain, with a cheap but substantial finish proving enough for most novice swingers.
The 10kg maximum mass could feel a little bit light in time, but for those starting out, or who don't require massive heft from their 'bells, this is great. The compact size makes it perfect for stashing away at home for the odd impromptu session.
The vinyl coating swaddling these cast iron weights is a handy addition for anyone worried about damaging their parquet, yet the unit remains robust and a much more long-term option than cheaper all-vinyl offerings.
Bodypower also offers a very impressive range of weights, with the option to package them up into a small set of, say, 6kg-12kg increments. There's even a massive 40kg unit for the bench folk, but it's pricey.
Alternatively, hedge your bets with this very affordable, entry-level set of kettlebells. The Mira set offers a decent spread of three plastic weights (5lb to 15lb, which is 2.25kg to 7kg), on a plastic stand.
That's not a huge maximum weight, obviously, but it allows lighter users to switch between high-resistance and low-resistance/high rep workouts with ease, for not much money.
The vinyl coating may feel cheaper than the cast iron and steel suggestions on this list but all three of these will set you back half the price of a single kettlebell from some of the other brands.
There are absolutely no additional bells and whistles on this rugged cast iron bell from the lean boys over at Men's Health. It's simply a solid lump for lifting above your head while screaming like a hungry caveman. Grrr.
It's also one of the cheaper 16kg weights on the market, making it very tempting to splash out on a couple to create a pretty awesome home gym set-up. The handle is quite rough, however, presumably to emphasise its Manly Healthiness credentials. Wear gloves and have Norwegian Formula hand cream ready.