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Kettlebell What To Look For

With the explosion of kettle bell training over the last 10 years there are now many shapes and sizes available to buy. “ A kettle bell ’s design allows its center of mass to extend beyond the hand.

author
James Smith
• Friday, 11 December, 2020
• 9 min read
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Common kettle bell exercises involve swings, lifts, and presses, but unlike weightlifting or powerlifting, kettle bell training can be performed bilaterally and unilaterally in all planes. The Single Arm Dead lift exercise can be performed with any type of kettle bell :

As you can see from the competition kettle bell image above the handle is much smaller and is squarer in design. The advantage of these types of kettle bells is that your hand doesn’t slide around due to the limited space plus you can get used to the size even when the weight changes.

If you choose to go for the cast iron kettle bells then there is still a few more things that you need to know before you buy. A kettle bell with a handle that is too thick is going to quickly tire out your forearms and finishing repetitions of an exercise can be very tough.

The bottom of the kettle bell should have a natural flat but it shouldn’t have an attached rubber or plastic base. Bases can be good for preventing marks on your floor but unfortunately they’re going to really dig into arm and into your body when you’re using the kettle bell.

The fourth thing is to make sure that there are no sharp edges on the kettle bell handle. Look out for kettle bells that have sharp bits of paint and also check where the handle meets the body that there are no small nicks that can cut into your hands.

adjustable kettlebell weight kettlebells increments
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Avoid a kettle bell that’s a round ball with a big, sharp handle stuck on the top There should be a nice smooth bit of continuity with the kettle bell from the body into the handle.

If the handle spacing is too small you’re going to find it really digs into your wrists when in the racked position or overhead. It seems to be trendy to coat kettle bells in vinyl or plastic to avoid marking floor etc.

However, due to the huge rise in popularity there are now many weight sizes in-between the ones listed above. The great news is that if you make the right purchase you will only need to buy a few of the best kettlebells, and they will last you for a lifetime.

Here are the 3 kettle bell weight sizes that I recommend all women should buy: 8 kg (17lbs) — perfect starting weight, great for learning the basic movements and later Turkish get ups 12 kg (26lbs) — used for the two handed swing to begin with and then later many other exercises 16 kg (35lbs) — perfect progression for the two handed swing when more advanced to compliment the 12 kg

If you feel that 8 kg is too heavy for a starting weight then you need to understand the type of exercises you will be performing. 12 kg (26lbs) — perfect for beginners with no weight lifting experience, great for beginner Turkish get ups 16 kg (35lbs) — starting weight and great for swings and most single-handed exercises 24 kg (53lbs) — great progression for the two handed swing and later other single-handed exercises

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At a later date more experienced kettle bell practitioners may work on overhead presses with the 32 kg plus may need to bridge the gap between the 16 kg and 24 kg with a 20 kg for single-handed exercises. I have to say that I’ve learned the hard way and bought lots of kettle bells that turned out to be completely useless.

Here are one brand that I have consistently used over the past few years without any problems, they are very reasonably priced and available on Amazon.com in the USA: For those based in the UK, head on over to Wilkerson Fitness and check out their black series of kettle bells.

Cast Iron kettle bells are the most diverse and excellent for beginners and almost anyone not interested in going in to competition. If you are more advanced and want to focus on purely single-handed exercises than the competition kettle bell may be for you.

I’ve also outlined above what size kettle bell women should use and also the recommend starting weights for men too. Think fitness devices like cable machines, boxes for jumps and even some free weights, specifically kettle bells.

To me, kettle bells always seemed too clunky and heavy and I couldn’t fathom how to stash them in my living room — my workout area — in a way that would be both stylish enough and functional enough for my preferences. All that aside, kettle bell workouts also just didn’t seem necessary since I have dumbbells and resistance bands to cover lots of fitness routines.

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However, given the inherent difficulty of attending gyms right now with a face mask and the potential risk of exposure, I decided to shake things up and took the plunge: I ordered a kettle bell. If you’re likewise looking for the best kettle bells to buy, you’ll quickly find lots of options and some might seem very similar to others.

I’ve found a lot of value in even basic exercises, which challenged my body in gym-worthy ways, an especially significant value in workout gear as we head into winter. Other fitness pros I talked to had predictably different takes on the best approach to equipping your home gym with kettle bells.

Peter Bahia, director of personal training at Athletic Development and Performance Training, told me he realizes a kettle bell can be a substantial investment for some, but still considers it a unique piece of equipment that can build functional strength and improve range of motion — both worthwhile endeavors in the work from home reality many of us face. It’s easy to use and ultimately gives you unrivaled flexibility with what weight size you want in your kettle bell given you have the appropriate dumbbells to match with it.

Heidi Pocono, a personal trainer and manager of training at GYMGUYZ, recommends a vinyl coated cast iron kettle bell. “This is my go-to piece of equipment, no matter where I’m training,” Pocono said, noting the “comfortable” cast iron handle glides smoothly in her hand whether she’s performing a kettle bell swing, snatch or a windmill.

Former gym owner and personal trainer Alicia McKenzie said that a kettle bell is always one of the first pieces of equipment she recommends for anyone attempting to start a home gym — it took me more than eight months of in-home workouts to find the motivation to test a kettle bell. I used the CAP brand when I owned a gym and their equipment can really take a beating,” McKenzie said.

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Are you worried about bringing such a heavy piece of equipment into your home and the associated risk of denting your floors? “It is durable, can withstand general wear and tear — but most importantly, it isn't going to damage your home or hurt (as much) if you slam it into your foot.” The handle on this kettle bell is relatively large, too, which gives you plenty of grip space for two-handed movements like a kettle bell swing.

Kettle bells challenge your balance because they change your center of gravity, turning regular exercises like lunges and squats difficult. Thanks in large part to CrossFit, kettle bell training is quite fashionable these days.

Even before CrossFit, many knew the kettle bell could be used to strengthen the legs, back, shoulders, and core. It was really just a matter of time before the kettle bell joined the strength training implement arsenal alongside the bar and dumbbell.

And while you should seek out guidance on how to safely use them, the process of selecting bells that you will both be happy with and get years of use out of is simple. In this article I’ll first cover what to look for when kettle bell shopping, and then I will offer up some recommendations based on that.

Last updated December 21, 2017 — added a table of contents and Innit licensed Star Wars Kettle bells; made some minor edits to grammar. The process of casting a kettle bell leaves flashing (think of it as a seam) across the middle of the underside of the handle.

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This flashing needs to be filed down before the kettle bell is coated or finished so that there is a nice, even surface to hold on to. The cheaper kettle bell manufacturers will make no effort to remove this sharp seam, and your hands will suffer for it (and very likely bleed from it).

Depending on the size of your hands, you may want to pay special attention to the diameter of the handles. Competition kettle bells will generally have a uniform handle diameter regardless of the weight (33 mm).

For some movements you will need both hands to be able to fit inside the handle opening without it being too tight or uncomfortable. While the handles do tend to get wider as the weight of the bell goes up, some manufacturers like Rogue or Innit make kettle bells that have handles that extend out past the diameter of the ball in a V shape for the small bells (see image directly below).

Going back to the competition kettle bells, they also have a consistent handle size among all weights. So if you’re willing to spend the extra money on competition kettle bells, you can be sure the handle opening is large enough for two hands regardless of weight.

The latter method involves attaching the handle to the ball, and is not as strong or secure as the one piece casting. I’m pretty sure that flying cannonball is going to destroy whatever it hits no matter how light it is for a kettle bell.

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The main options you’ll run into is enamel, vinyl, powder coating, and bare steel. Black powder coating is what the nicer basic kettle bells (like those from Rogue) will have.

Bare steel is what the competition kettle bell handles will have, and it happens to be my own personal preference. Enamel is ok, but vinyl coating is not really recommended and is most commonly found on the lesser quality brands.

A large problem with the mega equipment companies that import cheap kettle bells, weight plates, and dumbbells into the States is the inaccuracy of their products in terms of stated weight. For starters, they are steel rather than cast iron, which means they are of a higher quality and more evenly balanced.

This uniformity allows for quick and easy progression between weights, and it also means you can get both hands in even the lightest of kettle bells. When you get right down to it, the Vulcan Trainers more closely resemble comp kettle bells than other training bells.

You get just about all the advantages of competition kettle bells — only no color scheme, but a more reasonable price. They use the same casting design that they’ve been using successfully for some time now, but the new finish is a chip-resistant coating that stays drippy for longer without irritating the hands.

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They, too, are finished in a black powder coat save for the colored stripe around the base of the handles (for quick and easy weight identification). Rogue uses high quality ores rather than scrap irons, and their finishing process leaves a seamless, smooth surface that is free of defects.

They are one-piece castings with a wide, flat base and the powder coat holds chalk very well. These are both functional, classy, high quality kettle bells, and they sell for very reasonable prices (starting at $22.)

American Barbell Dettlebells are colored coded around the base of the handles just like the Rogue kettle bells. They are cast iron with a textured, chip-resistant surface that works well with pr without chalk, and a large, flat base for extra stability and ground clearance during swings.

Rather than pumping out just another kettle bell and then having a price war with everyone else, Vulcan puts some serious time and effort into the R&D of their Absolute kettles. They are guaranteed to not crack or dent for life, they won’t as easily as painted kettle bells, and there are no toxic chemicals used as either fillers or in the powder coat finish.

Vulcan publishes a lot of technical information about these kettle bells on their product page; much more than I can fit here. Rogue’s comp kettle bells have a smooth, blemish-free surface with a matte black powder coated finish and four, specially contoured flats; which reduce friction and discomfort during overhead presses, cleans, and snatches.

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Like the American Barbell kettle bells, Rogue included the weight in both pounds and kilograms on the backside of the bell. With so many other high-quality options out there with tons of thought having gone into the design and handle shape, these have fallen out of favor.

Brand new and already a huge hit, these weighted fist bells are the brain-child of powerlifter Donnie Thompson, and man are they badass. The result, as Donnie explains it himself, is the “perfect geometric shape for maximizing optimal performance,” as your hand and the Fat bell essentially act as one.

The center mass design allows athletes to improve the efficiency and balance of every press while also reducing the common kettle bell safety risks. Even as a brand-new item the product page is already piling up with positive reviews, and many weights and sizes are frequently out of stock because of their popularity.

They’re one of the few quality kettle bells available for sale on Amazon, which means often times there are deals on shipping for Prime members. Those where the hull is not ball, but rather is cast to be a zombie, demon, clown, or even Bob Feet.

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Sources
1 kettlebellsworkouts.com - https://kettlebellsworkouts.com/kettlebell-store/
2 www.nbcnews.com - https://www.nbcnews.com/shopping/fitness/best-kettlebells-n1246049
3 www.garage-gyms.com - https://www.garage-gyms.com/kettlebell-review-shopping-guide-buy/