But I think there are several reasons why good quality kettle bells are worth springing for. Good quality kettle bells have smooth handles of uniform thickness and comfortable texture.
And, they won't have molding seams making them wobbly or hard to hold. With that in mind, here are a bunch of brands of kettle bell you won't regret buying.
Kettle bell Kings offers 'free shipping' in the US; in other words, the cost of shipping is flat regardless of how far you live from their Austin, TX headquarters, and added into the price of the bell. 2021 Update: in the last few years (at least since COVID-19) KB Kings prices have gone up dramatically.
A 35 lb powder coat kettle bell is currently $165 (perpetually 'marked down' from $195) with free shipping. CFF offers 'free shipping' in the US; in other words, the cost of shipping is flat regardless of how far you live from their warehouses (in Lancaster, PA and Phoenix, AZ); and added into the price of the bell.
A 35 lb Powder Coat kettle bell from CFF is $78 shipped as of this writing. Rogue is the brand of choice for many high-end CrossFit gyms/boxes, and their bells are built to take daily abuse.
Frustratingly, VF currently only offers FedEx Ground for kettle bells, making their shipping costs significantly higher than other brands, particularly if you live farther away. Again Faster is a company I don't see mentioned much around this Subreddit; but I personally own several kettle bells of theirs that I really like, so I'm putting them on the list.
The finish in their kettle bells is smoother than Rogues, but still drippy; and have a very high-quality feel. Here is a recent video comparing Kettle bell Kings to Rogue and CAP.
(Summary: he thinks Kettle bell Kings are the best, but recommends Rogue as good at their price point.) If you think you might be on the outer edges of the bell curve, either because you're an experienced weightlifter or because you've been sedentary for a while and are maybe of below-average strength, you've got a few options.
Strong people will still find 20 or 35 lbs useful for learning form and aerobic work; and people who aren't so strong will get stronger quickly while learning the techniques. If you're still unsure, you can head to a gym or store stocked with kettle bells, or even dumbbells.
One metric is to choose the heaviest kettle bell (or comparable weight dumbbell) you can comfortably overhead press for reps. But if it is frequently recommended for beginners (and experienced athletes new to kettle bell training as well).
It's built around only two exercises, so there is a lower skill barrier to getting started than programs with more movements to learn. If it's between spending half an hour doing your first SAS workout, or half an hour reviewing different programs trying to decide, my recommendation is to start with Simple and Sinister today, and shop around for your ideal beginner program tomorrow.
Gradually reduce rest until you can complete 100 reps of 1-handed swings with perfect form in 5 minutes. Eventually, you'll become strong enough to take 10 minutes to do your 10 reps (5 per side), maintaining a roughly 1:1 work:rest ratio (alternating 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest for 10 minutes).
The book is absolutely worth buying, because it goes into incredible detail about how to perform the movements safely, and how to be smart about progressing up through the program. (2020 note: The Revised Edition of Simple & Sinister presents a routine that is very similar to the above, but incorporating a progression that is even more effective than what I've described.
Rather than update my post to share the revised ed, which feels like plagiarism, my suggestion for a beginner is: feel free to use the above as a starting point, but buy the book as soon as possible to get the most up-to-date version of the program.) In the simplest terms, Hard style focuses a little more on explosive power, and shorter sets with heavier weights.
Competition kettle bells typically use a uniform color scheme to distinguish different weights. Hard style kettle bells are often black, sometimes with weight -distinguishing colored stripes where the handle meets the bell.
What kind of kettle bell you buy depends on what program you decide to follow. I wrote a post a few years ago meant to answer the most frequently asked questions in this Subreddit at that time.
The FAQ is a great list of resources, but it is maybe a bit overwhelming for someone coming in for some super-basic advice. (If you find this post helpful, I'd selfishly love it if you shot me a one-sentence message to let me know.
If you have thoughts, suggestions, or find broken links, feel free to reach out as well.) Likely you’ve seen them cropping up at your local gym and possibly you’ll have seen a few YouTube videos on the subject.
What you might not realize though is just how fantastic kettle bells are for building functional strength, burning calories and greatly improving all-round health. That is not to say that you have been misled, simply that we are discovering new information all the time and that this is constantly shifting paradigms in regard to the best forms of training.
To that end, we have a nervous system and musculature that is inherently plastic and able to change, warp and adapt as the situation demands. We grow new neuronal connections; we develop specific muscles and others atrophy all at the same time.
In turn, this makes it easier for us to learn other new things and keeps our brain dynamic and growing. This has been shown to be highly protective against age-related cognitive decline and more serious cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Meanwhile, complex and challenging movement is what allows us to train all of our supporting muscles, our proprioception, our balance and more. It’s what maintains our flexibility and it’s what gives us functional strength that can actually translate into useful power when we’re working and playing.
This is what leads to an ‘anterior pelvic tilt’ where the pelvis leans forward forcing your buttocks outward and actually making you physically shorter! At the same time, being at the computer all day means that your neck is constantly craned upward, while your arms are stretched forward.
This causes a similar tightness and shortness in the pectoral muscles while weakening and stretching your lats and traps. But if you’re like most people, your version of fixing this will involve lifting weights through a very static range of motion using ‘single joint’ movements.
We’ve spent all day sitting down hunched over, and then we train the muscles at the front of our bodies with heavy weights. This is due to the unique design: the cannonball like body that is attached to a single handle.
It is constantly changing, and your body needs to adapt in order to cope: you need to be able to stop it mid swing, or balance on one side as it weighs more to the left than the right. Suddenly, you begin to train your body to learn new movements and every single swing is marginally different.
Meanwhile, your body responds by letting you rebuild those small supporting muscles that had long since been forgotten. A kettle bell can double for a bar and a squat rack as well as offering its own unique training advantages.
Important is not to jump straight into heavy kettle bell lifts or intense workouts. The problem is that your body has become so adapted to a largely stationary lifestyle that introducing new movement suddenly can be enough to cause serious injury.
It only takes a short amount of time for something to snap or give way, and they blame the dead lifts. This movement is brilliant for building the posterior chain and targets the slower twitch muscle fibers as well as the fast ones.
It can help to give you a better jumping height, running speed and more and it will strengthen your back and leg extensors considerably. This means you need to use your obliques to support your body on that side, while tensing through your legs to avoid falling over.
Because you’re creating a pendulum motion, gravity and momentum should keep the weight constantly moving. This in turn means you’ll build muscle at the same time as burning through calories and raising your heart rate.
HIIT stands for ‘High Intensity Interval Training’ and is the ideal tool for burning calories as well as improving your heart health and your ‘VO2 max’ for better long-distance athletic performance. HIIT allows you to effectively use up all the available energy in your muscles and in your bloodstream by using intensive bursts of anaerobic training.
This then means that when you switch back to lower intensity your body is forced to burn fat for energy. Rely on fat stores for energy which actually means you burn more calories for an extended period after training.
As you can see then, the kettle bell is a highly versatile piece of equipment that is both very practical and transformative in its way. At the same time though, you can also use it as a way to increase your muscle size and strength with dead lifts, squats and a range of other conventional movements.
It can strengthen your heart, burn fat and in general is the perfect, convenient antidote to our modern, unhealthy lifestyles. Make sure to take it easy and to start light to begin with and that way you can safely introduce movement back into your routine.