Holding the kettle bell with the single hand will also put a greater strain on the grip and forearms muscles. So many beginners often struggle with their grip strength when they first start kettle bell training using this holding position.
The main disadvantage of the “by the body” holding position is that after several repetitions the kettle bell has a tendency to slide down through the hands making the grip challenging and readjustment necessary. The goblet holding position does place additional demands on the wrists as the kettle bell has a tendency to flip and flop backwards and forwards.
However, the instability produced by this holding position can be counteracted by resting the kettle bell against the chest when fatigue sets in. During this position the kettle bell is held comfortably against the chest with the arm tucked in, wrist straight, shoulder down and Latissimus Doris muscle engaged.
When correctly engaged the KB front rack hold should be sustainable for long periods of time without fatigue. One common mistake is to wing the elbow out to the side and hold the kettle bell out and close to the shoulder, this position will lead to fatigue very quickly.
For example, a badly designed kettle bell can pinch the wrist or feel very uncomfortable against the forearm. Great alignment throughout the arm and body as well as wrist strength and balance are required to use this holding position.
The bottoms up clean is a great place to begin mastering this position. The instability of this holding position can be a great way to improve shoulder stability and alignment issues that may need addressing.
If you want to develop strength and power without the worry of injury then you need to progress your shoulder exercises correctly. For example, the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder can be considered stabilizers whereas the deltoid are the prime movers.
Once you have developed a strong framework with the stabilizers you can then progress on to the dynamic overhead exercises. As mentioned previously you need to go through a progressive conditioning process that focuses on the shoulder stabilizing muscles.
Hold a kettle bell overhead with your wrist straight, elbow locked out, and shoulder back and down in its socket. The second progression involves taking a walk with the kettle bell held overhead.
The same holding technique applies to all overhead exercises, locked out elbow, straight wrist and shoulder down and away from the ears. Keep your core braced and tight through the complete exercise and prevent your lower back from overarching backwards.
Mix up the sequence so you change which legs are used to stand up from the tall kneeling position. Unlike the two static kettle bell holding exercises listed above the windmill works the shoulders through a rotational movement.
The shoulder stabilizers have to work hard as the arm stays vertical and the body is rotated underneath the kettle bell. Push your hips backwards as you load the hamstrings and reach down following the line of your front leg.
The overhead kettle bell squat is a challenging exercise that requires good upper back mobility. Holding the kettle bell overhead sit back onto your heels as you drop into the squat.
Brace your core muscles tightly to prevent an overarching in the lower back. If you find your body is falling forwards when you don’t have the same issue when performing the goblet squat, then your upper back (thoracic spine) is the reason why.
It is important to realize that although the shoulder needs to be mobile you don’t want it to be hyper-mobile to compensate for a tight upper back. If you can’t perform the overhead squat work on your upper back mobility on a daily basis.
The kettle bell overhead lunge will challenge your shoulder stabilizers while at the same time strengthen your legs, core and buttocks. Holding a kettle bell overhead will shift your center of balance and increase the demand on your core muscles.
As with all overhead exercises the arm should remain locked out, the wrist straight and shoulders away from the ears. Static Hold Workout : master the lunge first and then progress to 12 reps on each side.
Practitioners of the Turkish get up will achieve strong shoulder stabilization in all positions as well as a more functional core and improved mobility. Beginners should start with the half Turkish get up which involves moving from the lying position to sitting with the kettle bell overhead.
You can work through several repetitions of the half get up on each side before progressing to the standing part of the exercise. As with all these overhead exercises a straight wrist, locked out arm and shoulder kept back and down is vital.
10 full repetitions alternating sides each time is the ultimate goal. The kettle bell straight arm sit is a demanding core exercise that also works the shoulder stabilizers from horizontal to vertical.
If you struggle with tight hamstrings then you may find that your knees bend slightly. You can use the kettle bell to assist in the hardest part of the exercise by angling the arm slightly in front of vertical as you start to sit up.
Lower from the top position back to the floor slowly over 3 seconds resisting the pull of gravity. Static Hold Workout : progress to 10 repetitions on both sides with a 3 second lower for each rep.
With all the fancy kettle bell moves, and YouTube clips out there, it’s important to get people started on the right path safely. As a rule, I suggest to everyone that they should seek at least one training session with a personal trainer familiar with kettle bell use prior to beginning their own program.
This video, featured on Eric Crossed’s blog, covers the correct way to hold the kettle bell in the rack position. A lot of times I see people placing strain on the forearm by holding the kettle bell with their wrists cocked back, or with a really tight grip on the handle, which requires an unnecessary expenditure of energy.
I'm a Personal Trainer, e-500 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher, and expert group fitness instructor. 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.
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.
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. Kettle bell training can be an excellent way to boost your strength considerably, conditioning as well as cardio fitness and just like an adjustable dumbbell, they don’t take up a lot of space, so they are the perfect piece of equipment for a home workout too.
As with all things exercise related, start out with a sensible and measured approach and you can build from there as and when your body tells you it’s time to go heavier. Right now the most important thing is to start incorporating from kettle bell work into your current training program to fast track those fitness results.
Choosing the right kettle bell for you though can be a bit daunting, and you don’t want to splash the cash on something that’s just not suitable weight wise for the results you are looking to achieve. As little as ten years ago your options were reasonably limited when it came to purchasing kettle bells, but these days, plenty of companies do their own versions.
So let’s take a look today at some Best Kettle Bells which will you swinging your way quickly to that honed and toned physique you’ve been struggling to acquire up till now. They are constructed from a single cast without any welded parts, and each individual weight is color-coded with a ring at the base of each handle.
They feature a flat-bottomed design which makes them perfect for a range of exercises including push-ups and renegade rows as well as being easy to store. It has an ergonomic handle that is designed to fit most hands and it feels very similar in terms of resistance.
This Tone Fitness Vinyl Coated Cement Filled Kettle bell Weight is a device that enables you to achieve flexibility, strength, endurance, and stability in your muscles as well as a lifetime of general physical well-being. It is capable of taking on every part of your major body muscles to give you that agility, poise, energy and general fulfillment.
Constructed from a cast-iron molded cement coated with vinyl, its flat bottom ensures stability and guarantees the user a firm grip. Its workout functions include applications in snatches, squats, get-ups and other fitness endurance muscle toning exercises.
It comes in a variety of weights to Improve strength, stamina, and coordination whilst increasing the lung and heart capacity. As a result, it helps enhance agility and speed and will improve significantly cardiovascular disorders, is the preferred choice in workouts to prevent such conditions as heart attack or strokes.
With its wide range of weights, the Yes4All Powder Coated Kettle bells is a professional and amateur companion, to derive the maximum from your fitness exercise and training sessions. Made from a hard cast iron anti-corrosive material, it comes off as a superior quality — a solid sturdy, seamless and dependable piece of equipment devoid of welds to answer every one of your major your muscle building activities.
It is prominently color coded and doubly marked in both imperial and metric system units and lets you identify the different weights without difficulty. This little piece of equipment will boost your power, stretch, strength, and endurance and is ideal for use in swings, squats, lifting, and dead lifts.
The Kettle Grip itself weighs less than a pound so is the perfect lightweight solution to back in a bag. It’s a portable, adaptable, and economical solution and a great option for a home gym or for anyone who frequently travels.
Made from vinyl leather and filled with sand, it weighs an impressive 20lbs, which is enough to give you a serious workout. Unlike cheap kettle bell handles, you won’t experience cramp after a couple of reps. Add this to the offset center of gravity and you can perform large movements with superior control.
As a general rule of thumb, if you are a novice to using kettle bell ’s and about to get started out, then the following weights are recommended to get you into the swing of things so to speak! Remember that the action of using a kettle bell is far more dynamic and creates a lot more velocity and movement than working with static dumbbells so even as a slighter framed woman, you’d be surprised at what you can manage to start with versus when you first started out lifting weights.
If you do know that you are committed and will want to incorporate kettle bell training into your program long term then a set of three is a good option so that you have ongoing progression and regression if you ever need it too. Make sure that the seams are smooth as even if you are wearing weight training gloves, uneven handle edges can be a pain and will hinder your enjoyment which will affect your performance.
A good uniform handle size, regardless of the weight, is about 33 mm so check these details before investing. There is a heap of benefits that come with kettle bell training which is why they’ve risen in popularity in gyms globally as well as in home setups.
Depending upon your body shape and size and the effort you are putting in, you should be able to blast up to 20 calories a minute which is the equivalent of the rate you’d be burning if you were fit enough to run a 6-minute mile! Best of all, kettle bells deliver the complete package, and by that, we mean that they improve fitness, strength as well as flexibility.
It’s a ballistic and totally effective way of exercising that sees results in record time. They also require functional movement, the kind that replicates what your body carries out on an everyday basis so again, this makes them highly practical and hugely popular.
The unique shape and design of kettle bell also affect their center of gravity so in order to really complete the exercises correctly you are absolutely required to engage your core and your glutes in stabilizing your body. Because you are involved in mostly dynamic swinging actions, kettle bell training also requires you to be very mindful of what your body is doing.
While we have mentioned progression and increasing your weights and also doubling up for some exercises, the beauty of starting out with kettle bell training is that you really only do need the one, so it’s a small investment overall. For most other types of weighted exercises, you really do need to work out with pairs, for example, dumbbells in each hand or plates either end of a barbell.
Find something you love, switch things up a bit and you just know that you are going to see, feel and experience results. Perhaps one of the biggest concerns that people have when started out kettle bell training is hot to ensure they do it safely without risk of unwanted injury.
There’s no point steering away from the truth if you do perform your exercises incorrectly you could end up putting unnecessary strain on your lower back and shoulder and perhaps also your hips and knees as there are the most vulnerable areas. The great news though is that by following a few essential tips, you can perfect your kettle bell form and have lots of fun safely working out.
Don’t be tempted to stand with your legs too far apart thinking that this will create a more solid base as it will in fact put more strain on your lower back so get into a proper stance with your feet about hip width apart and make sure you start out with a sensible weight. The trick is to build up your strength and endurance so don’t go too heavy to start, especially while you are still honing your technique.
So engage that core, lift with your hips and ensure that your spine is a nice neutral position which again will significantly help to minimize unwanted injuries. Your regular running shoes are not the best choice as they will elevate your heels off the ground which is not a good position for kettle bell workouts.
These will give you a better grip and stop the kettle bell from potentially slipping out of your hand, and you got it, landing on that toe we just mentioned! This unique design, as distinct to a dumbbell, means that the weight is not evenly distributed and this delivers instability, creating counterbalance and the need to really focus on your core while training with this piece of equipment.
A: We highly recommend, as do my professional PT’s and athletes, that you do incorporate kettle bell training into your ongoing fitness program. Incorporating some kettle bell based exercise into your workouts is seriously going to affect your body in nothing but good ways.
They require your hips and legs to generate the force and momentum of the swing while your entire core including your abs, back, and shoulder girdle are called upon to stabilize your body and control your balance and posture. A: The great news here is that yes, you will definitely lose weight, body fat and increase muscle mass by working out with kettle bells.
The kettle bell is ideal for weight loss as its low impact and can really help to torch the fat and accelerate your results and gains. You’ll build solid lean muscle mass and strength while at the same time giving your body a proper cardiovascular workout.
There’s little wonder then than kettle bell training is loved by so many and seen as a bit of a 1-stop-shop for increasing your fat loss results and delivering definition. Ben Coleman is our resident sports and fitness product expert who offers a wide range of information in this field.
Kettle bells are easy to store, relatively inexpensive, and provide an efficient way to work nearly every part of the body in a short period of time. They’re also great for supplementing movement rehabilitation work on a path toward injury recovery or performance improvement.
Warning — this is a ridiculously long article, so I’ve structured the content to list the best kettle bell options first, followed by the full reviews. I use a simple five point rating scale to score each kettle bell :
I’ve tested multiple kettle bells for this article, but to keep things simple I’m only listing the options that earned at least three stars and up. The finish on these kettle bells is extremely drippy with no seams or burrs anywhere on the handles or bodies, with a coating that feels like chalk to the touch.
Plus, I personally like the fact that these kettle bells are made in the USA by a small company. Rep Fitness doesn’t bundle shipping into the costs of their products, and their base pricing is very reasonable.
These kettle bells are a great value for the price, especially if you live close to Colorado to save on shipping costs. Rogue Fitness Powder Coat kettle bells are decent, but not standouts.
They are a pretty good deal if you live close to Ohio, otherwise the cost of shipping makes them much less appealing. If you have large hands and prefer an aggressive grip, Rogue powder coat kettle bells could be the right option for you.
However, they don’t really stand out enough to differentiate them from the rest of the color-coded powder coat kettle bells I’ve tested. There are better options in terms of grip and finish, and the non-standard colors they use for weights drive me nuts.
Bottom line, don’t pay full price for Perform Better kettle bells. My review criteria is primarily centered on kettle bells I can use at home and at work with minimal need for chalk.
If you’re interested in diving deeper I’ve written a kettle bell buyer’s guide that answers every question I had when I first started. It also goes into detail on the criteria I look for, but the short version is a clean finish, a durable coating, and a properly sized handle.
Cast-iron kettle bells are widely available at many price points, which I consider to be a very good thing. There are a couple of companies making steel competition-style kettle bells aimed at the home fitness market, which offer the benefit of consistently sized kettle bells without incurring the usual steel competition cost.
I’ve developed several kettle bell workouts for the club, ranging in intensity from beginner to high-level intermediate. All of my workouts are documented on their own page and I plan to add to the list as time goes on.
If you prefer to follow along to instructor-led workouts, I also highly recommend the well-designed program put together by Kettle bell Kings via their new Living. Fit online platform. The Living. Fit programs include workouts for all levels of kettle bell enthusiasts, from beginner to expert.
They also have programs targeted for healthy eating and battle ropes for a more well-rounded approach to health and fitness. One kettle bell sport event in particular called ‘long cycle’ is a very efficient way to work your entire body in ten minutes with just three moves — the swing, clean, and jerk.
He describes an experiment performed using a do-it-yourself kettle bell made from parts found in the plumbing section at Home Depot. According to Tim Ferris the parts are supposed to cost under $10, not counting the weight plates.
First, it takes the guesswork out of deciding what size kettle bell to buy for two hand work. I was able to experiment with different weights to find a starting point I was comfortable with, eventually settling on 20 kg (44lbs).
If you don’t already have a background lifting weights or being active, or if you are out of shape, consider working with a certified kettle bell trainer to get instructed in proper technique. Plumbing parts weren’t designed to sustain a dynamic load swinging in an arc.
I’ll get into the details shortly, but I first want to comment on the excellent packaging they used to ship their kettle bells. This is a far cry from other vendors like Rogue Fitness, who typically just throw the bell in a box with some cardboard shims and hope for the best ¯\_()_/¯
I took this kettle bell outside on a hot Texas summer day to use for an Afterburner workout from my list of Kettle bell Club workouts, and I was able to keep hold of it without resorting to chalk despite my hands sweating like crazy. This is an important point because the factories where kettle bells are made are dirty, dusty places.
There’s lots of dust flying around that accumulates on the surface of the bells while they sit patiently waiting for paint. Perhaps unsurprisingly, very few companies take the extra step to clean the bells before paint because it adds time and expense to the process.
At the time I published this article, Kettle bell Kings is likely the only vendor taking this extra step, which results in a very durable coating. Most of the cheap kettle bells for sale on Amazon and other discount vendors fall into this category, I’ve even reviewed a few of them for this article.
If you’re unfamiliar with Create, it’s an extremely durable thin-film ceramic coating developed primarily for use as a protective finish for firearms. Create is extremely resistant to abrasion, corrosion and chemicals, and looks pretty cool at the same time.
In recent years a little fitness equipment companies have started offering create as a coating option for barbells. The create coating will cost a little extra, but the added durability means that kettle bell will last practically forever.
Additionally, the create option allows for a nearly infinite amount of customization and personalization. UPDATE — Innit has stopped selling this model and has moved to a powder coat version that has not yet been reviewed.
Since they’re local to Austin I visited the Innit Academy Gym in person to buy a kettle bell to evaluate. It looks like it could take a decent amount of abuse from a careless shipper, but the lack of reinforcement straps around the box could be an issue if the kettle bell has to travel a long distance.
The finish on the Innit kettle bell is clean, although the textured coating is thick enough to potentially mask small imperfections. Aesthetically, there are spots on the kettle bell where I can see how the coating application ran down the handle and dried, similar to how spray paint drips when applied too thickly.
I thought maybe this was a fluke, so I intentionally banged the kettle bells together again with medium force and another chip flaked off. The coating chipped several more times during the testing period through normal use, mainly from getting bumped against other kettle bells.
It’s a small difference, but enough to force an adjustment of technique for exercises like the overhead snatch. Innit Labs kettle bells are a good budget option, but not the most durable of the bunch.
If you do buy these, take wonderful care of them because the finish is prone to chipping. The finish on the kettle bell is very clean, and although the casting seams are slightly visible on the body due to how thin an e-coating is, they are not prevalent on the handle at all.
The Matrix Elite Precision line of kettle bells have a reformulated e-coat intended to increase grip over a traditional e-coating. The unique aspect of Matrix Precision Elite kettle bell is the redesigned handle.
The increased height means the kettle bell will sit just a bit lower on the forearm rather than resting right on the wrist bones, which is more comfortable for some people. The reformulated e-coat is stickier than the e-coats on the Dragon Door and even the Matrix Classic line.
The friction is alleviated with light chalk use though, which is a small trade off for the durability and comfort the Matrix Elite Precision kettle bell provides. I ordered a kettle bell from Rogue last year, and it arrived damaged due to flimsy packaging.
This year, I’m happy to say they’ve improved the packaging because I had no problem with my order this time around ? The finish on the Rogue kettle bell is good, although I can feel a few small flecks of excess metal on the handle when I run my hand over it.
The powder coat on the Rogue kettle bells is textured, with a feel of fine grit sandpaper. The handles of the Rogue kettle bells are among the thickest of the test group, making them more suitable for people with large hands.
The price is good too, especially if you live close to Ohio and can take advantage of a lower shipping cost. They are a pretty good deal if you live close to Ohio, otherwise the cost of shipping makes them much less appealing.
If you have large hands and prefer an aggressive grip, Rogue powder coat kettle bells could be the right option for you. CFF offers a full line of athletic equipment, including kettle bells.
The form-fitting foam is an extra level of protection that’s typically only used for shipping more costly competition steel kettle bells. The coating has a slightly aggressive texture, which works very well for maintaining grip without needing chalk.
The combination of finish and textured coating will hold a lot of chalk if needed. It’s clear to me a lot of thought went into the creation of the K2 and it shows in every aspect of the design and packaging.
I included Rep Fitness kettle bells in last year’s review, and they garnered four stars during testing. Not content with that, the folks at Rep Fitness have upped their game by improving on the issues I noted in the previous review.
The Rep Fitness kettle bells came well packed, with plenty of foam inserts and even bubble wrap on the 20 kg. Thankfully, I didn’t have to take him up on this but it’s nice to see this kind of focus on customer service.
The powder coating has a very smooth chalk-like texture that provides a decent amount of grip without the need for chalk. The coating is also really durable, these kettle bells have withstood several hard blows without chipping.
They offer an excellent value for the price, especially if you live close to Colorado and you can save on shipping. Fringe Sport is a strength & conditioning equipment company based in Austin Texas.
Since they’re local, I paid them a visit to pick up a few of their Prime Kettle bells to review. Every Prime Kettle bell comes packaged in a form-fitting cardboard box and wrapped with reinforcement straps.
The finish on the Prime Kettle bells is clean and the bottoms are ground completely flat. The powder coat kettle bell is evenly applied and provides a decent amount of grip.
The grip the is on par with the majority of powder coat kettle bells I’ve tested, providing a smooth yet “drippy” texture. When I first got them, I was surprised at how much larger the handle diameters were when compared to similarly sized kettle bells from other vendors.
I’m not a tall guy (5’8”) and many of the people I work with in my kettle bell club are even shorter than I am, both men and women. The handles do run fairly thick though, so these are a great option for people with large hands.
Fringe Sport runs frequent sales, so if you’re patient you could score a pretty good deal on these. American Barbell is a strength & conditioning equipment company based in San Diego California.
Their barbells have a solid reputation in the home gym community, and they’ve somewhat recently added kettle bells to their product lineup. American Barbell kettle bells have a very clean finish and a slightly textured coat.
The bottoms are ground flat and wider than most of the other options, making them a very stable base for exercises like renegade rows. The handle dimensions overall are on the thinner side of the spectrum, making these kettle bells very comfortable for use by people with smaller hands.
Price-wise, American Barbell powder coats are super-cheap, but that savings is offset by the cost of pricing. I ordered a 16 kg Titan Fitness kettle bell off Amazon, and I was shocked at how bad it was.
For starters, the Titan Fitness kettle bell shipped in a single cardboard box with no padding or reinforcement whatsoever. The Titan kettle bell is the absolute worst I’ve seen so far in terms of how bad the finish was.
I really don’t understand how a big-name fitness company could even think about putting their brand on a product like this. After contacting Titan customer service about a replacement and being told I wouldn’t be able to get one for two months, I simply sent it back.
It’s so bad it has the dubious honor of forcing me to create a ‘zero stars’ rating, because it’s completely unusable. The big draw is the price, I picked up a 35lb cast-iron kettle bell for $40 shipped, which is amazingly cheap.
The bottom is not ground completely flat and the coating is just a glossy black paint. I tried using it without any chalk and found that the tackiness made it more difficult for me to do snatches and cleans.
The handle diameter is on the larger side of the options tested, although I no longer have it available to measure. On the other hand, if saving money is your primary concern and you’re willing to sacrifice some quality, the Yes4All is hard to beat.
I know this because they’ve started selling their own brand of Amazon Basics Kettle bells. The only difference between them is that the AmazonBasics kettle bell has no branding whatsoever, only the weight stamped on both sides.
Just don’t expect much for your money, since the Amazon Basics kettle bell is a cheaply made product. The bottom is not ground completely flat and the coating is just a glossy black paint.
Having said that, it’s still perfectly usable for swings, snatches, cleans, etc and I’d be hard-pressed to find a cheaper option for someone that doesn’t want to spend much on a kettle bell. The tackiness of the paint makes it more difficult to do snatches and cleans with this kettle bell, but that’s nothing a light dusting of chalk on the handle can’t fix.
The handle diameter is on the larger side of the options tested, measurements will be added later. If saving money is your primary concern and you’re willing to sacrifice some quality, the Amazon Basics kettle bell is a decent option.
CAP introduced a new powder coat kettle bell into their product lineup sometime within the last couple of years, and I’m finally including it in the roundup. The finish on the CAP kettle bell is good, although I can feel a few small flecks of excess metal on the handle when I run my hand over it.
The powder coat on the CAP kettle bell is textured, with a feel of fine grit sandpaper. The handles of the CAP powder coat kettle bells are among the thickest of the test group, making them more suitable for people with large hands.
I was learning how to perform the kettle bell snatch at the time I owned these, and the burrs kept digging into my palms during the transitions. I toughed it out as long as I could but eventually used a metal file to smooth down the handle and make the bell a little more usable.
I painted it with Mausoleum to try and stem further rust damage, which is why the kettle bell is colored brown in pictures. The enamel finish on the large bell was extremely smooth and hard to hold once I broke a sweat.
I don’t recommend CAP enamel coated or plain “cast iron” kettle bells for your home gym. In fact, I actively recommend you stay away from them entirely because you will inevitably rue the day you purchased them.
As a result, they have a large amount of brand recognition in the kettle bell community. The recognition is reflected in the price because Dragon Door kettle bells are the most expensive option included in this review.
They don’t look great, but the coat on all of them is in okay shape considering they were stored year-round in a garage subject to three years of humid central Texas summers. The ROC kettle bells all have prevalent seams left over from the casting process on the handles.
These seams often pinched the skin of my palms, indicating a poor finishing and grinding process. That extra money is clearly not being invested back into quality control at Dragon Door.
There’s always a chance Dragon Door has upped their game since these bells were originally made. Without knowing exactly what your current kettle bells look/feel like, I can tell you that things such as seams could indeed have been a problem exclusive to a batch or perhaps they were kettelbells that made it past inspection.”
In fact, several of the companies offer no guarantee whatsoever and will not accept a return at all unless your purchase is defective. I’m willing to give Dragon Door the benefit of the doubt and assume their newer kettle bells have a higher quality finish than what I currently own.
The best things Dragon Door ROC kettle bells offer is a 1-year satisfaction guarantee and a durable coating. However, given the quality of the competition these factors aren’t enough to offset their substantially higher cost.
Whatever it is, the coat provides just enough grip with low friction to allow for high rep work without needing chalk. The burrs only exist on the smaller kettle bells that I don’t use as much, which might be why they haven’t been an issue for me.
One minor nit to pick is with the quality of the paint job on the faces of the kettle bells. This is a purely cosmetic issue that doesn’t take away from the usability of the kettle bells at all, but it does detract from the overall perception of quality.
In case you didn’t know, prior to the pandemic pretty much every brand of kettle bells was manufactured in China. Then coronavirus hit, people were stuck at home, and supply chains out of China were disrupted.
This was the perfect storm for a massive run on fitness equipment, and several months later most companies are still having trouble keeping products in stock. Rogue Fitness has attempted to circumvent the supply chain issues by sourcing this new line of kettle bells from a foundry in Michigan, and I applaud them for doing this.
FYI — the lighting I used to take the pictures for this review makes the kettle bell look brown, but the coating is actually black. The finish on the Rogue kettle bell is slightly on the rough side, which isn’t a bad thing because it provides some texture for improved grip.
The handle of the Rogue E-Coat kettle bell is probably the thickest of the test group so far, making them more suitable for people with large hands. To be honest, I was excited to review this kettle bell since it’s the first one I’ve owned that is made in the USA.
They are a pretty good deal if you live close to Ohio, otherwise the cost of shipping makes them much less appealing. USA-Iron is a brand-new player in the kettle bell space, a scrappy upstart company forged in the crucible of the COVID-19 pandemic (see what I did there?
As the name implies, USA-Iron is an entirely U.S.-based operation and is among the first few companies to manufacture their own line of kettle bells in the United States. In case you’ve been asleep for most of 2020, prepare to be rudely awakened…prior to COVID-19 most (if not all) kettle bells were manufactured in China.
Then the ‘RNA hit, people were stuck at home, and supply chains out of China were severely disrupted. This was the perfect storm for a massive run on fitness equipment, and several months later most companies are still having trouble keeping kettle bells in stock.
USA-Iron has stepped into the breach producing high quality kettle bells to make sure we can keep on swinging, and I’m very glad they did. The owner of USA-Iron reached out to me in the comments of this article and was kind enough to send me a set of 25lb and 35lb kettle bells to evaluate and review.
FYI — the lighting I used to take the pictures for this review makes the kettle bells look gray, but the coating is actually black. The powder coat finish on USA-Iron kettle bell feels very good in my hand during swings and snatches, with a slightly rough texture.
I was told by the company owner that the powder coat paint formulation was specifically chosen to provide some texture for improved grip, and that choice is evident during use. USA-Iron is one of the few companies I’m aware of that adds a separate wash step to the manufacturing process to clean dust off the kettle bell before the powder coat is applied.
This is an important step because the factories where kettle bells are made are dirty, dusty places. Lots of that dust settles on the surface of the bells while they sit patiently waiting for paint.
The end result is a very durable finish with a textured coating that will hold plenty of chalk if needed. I don’t knock them for this though, since the kettle bells are high quality and some people will really like the thicker handle size.
However, people with smaller hands may find the thicker handle size more difficult to hold during longer workout sessions. If that weren’t reason enough to support them, I like that the company is small and open to feedback, and the people there are very committed to producing a high quality product.
The handle dimensions are on the larger end of the spectrum, so if you have small or medium hands you may want to look at other options. The guy narrating the video, Pavel Tstatsouline, was affiliated with Dragon Door when the video was filmed so the process likely shows how Dragon Door kettle bells were made back in the day.
Its wider handle makes it easier to grip with two hands (for the classic swing move), and its smoother finish is less likely to injure your skin over time. Dragon Door was the first company to popularize kettle bells in America, which is why the most other brands simply copy that shape down to the millimeter.
The Matrix Elite looks the same at first glance, but it features a slightly wider handle that won’t pinch your pinkies in two-handed positions. It’s also designed so that kettle bells of different weights will rest on the same place on your forearm, regardless of their size—this is preferred by advanced users for one-handed work.
Finally, we like that Kettle bells USA often has the Matrix Elite on sale for just a few dollars more than our budget pick. It also has a slightly wider base that makes it more stable to hold in a plank position—something that advanced users will appreciate.
If the goal is to learn kettle bell basics and use two-handed techniques, all of these bells are quite suitable, and being budget conscious (finding sales/free shipping) isn’t a bad route. We (Keira and I) have trained more than 800 clients in kettle bell techniques since 2008, and we’ve taught multiple instructor certifications in the US and abroad.
Kettle bell exercises combine cardiovascular and resistance training in one exercise—which means you’re improving conditioning (and burning fat) while building muscle. While they’ve been around since the early 18th century (the word first appears in a Russian dictionary from 1704), kettle bells have experienced a huge resurgence in the fitness industry in the past 10 years.
(Most recently, as the coronavirus pandemic forced people to work out at home, significant stock shortages have become the norm.) Their unique shape and functionality give them many of the strength-building benefits of dumbbells while also providing users with the opportunity to do kettle bell -specific drills that involve a lot of movement, like the swing.
The closed-loop handle of a kettle bell offers users a secure grip for movements with both hands. Dumbbells are better suited to doing squats, curls, bench press, cleans, and other exercises that have less kinetic motion.
That means you can fulfill all your workout needs with one simple tool that stows easily in a closet. One important caveat to this endorsement of kettle bell training is that proper technique makes all the difference between effective and beneficial use and potential injury.
You can also consult credible online tutorials, and many trainers will set up a Skype arrangement where you can send videos to them for feedback and coaching. My wife, master ROC trainer Keira Newton, has an awesome YouTube page with all kinds of tutorials/workouts for kettle bells.
In terms of credible resources on kettle bell techniques and workout ideas, here are a few great sources available digitally and/or in print: Dragon Door has the most resources in terms of kettle bell books and DVDs (at least in the “hard style” approach that I use) available.
Finally, Steve Cotter is a master practitioner/teacher of competition kettle bell lifting techniques. While many people recommend women starting with an 8-kilogram bell (about 16 pounds), I think that the two-handed lifts like squats and swings aren’t very well-served by that low weight.
If you want to start modestly, my suggestion would be to get the 13-pound version of our budget pick and then order a larger, higher quality bell once you feel comfortable. With these three, all kinds of single and double kettle bell work is easily achievable and scalable.
Both of these linked pieces reiterate my earlier point about seeking credible instruction before beginning an at-home regimen. Then there is the question about which kind of kettle bell you should buy: cast iron, competition, or adjustable.
Cast-iron bells are more comfortable for two-handed grip positions, which beginners should master before moving onto the more challenging one-handed exercises. It’s not worth paying extra unless you actually plan on competing—a slim minority of home kettle bell users.
Photo: Mark BixbyUnlike with dumbbells, adjustable kettle bells aren’t a good buy. A kettle bell should be capable of being thrown, dropped, and even juggled, so I would opt for single-forged metal that can stand up to a beating—and stay together in the process.
Also, a major frustration with adjustable kettle bells is that they don’t offer a wide enough weight range to make them ideal for many. As it turns out, there’s not a huge amount of difference between these things because most of them borrow their design from the Dragon Door ROC.
Dragon Door was the first US company to run kettle bell instructor certifications (taught by famed instructor Pavel Tsatsouline) and have mass distribution in the US (Dragon Door started selling these bells in 2001). Dragon Door bells achieved great acclaim, but their high price point (roughly $120 each after shipping and handling, the highest in our test) invited lots of competition from other companies.
CAP is another popular fitness company that makes a good bell at a lower price point. For example, this Yes4All bell is one of the most popular models on Amazon, but its large, flat face is hard on the wrists in one-handed positions.
Although much more rare, some companies compete by distinguishing their offerings from Dragon Door’s with different designs. Perform Better at one point implemented a screw-on rubber skid plate on the bottom of their bells, but later on scrapped it due to negative customer feedback.
Vinyl-covered bells were created to protect floor spaces in commercial gyms and homes, but more often, the vinyl is there to smooth over the defects of a cheaply cast bell, and they often get criticized for very uneven handles that cause hand pain and tearing. They were extremely uneven in terms of metal handle quality, had limited weight options, and they weren’t significantly cheaper than the budget options we ended up testing—you don’t even save money on shipping.
From left: Matrix Elite, CAP Cast Iron Competition, Rogue, Perform Better First Place, Dragon Door ROC. Photo: Anton BrkicOur testing group, which consisted of myself and five members of the high school varsity baseball team I coach, worked with all five bells at the beginner/intermediate level and did only two-handed moves (dead lifts, squats, presses, high pulls, and swings).
However, if a person is interested in exploring the full range of what kettle bell exercises have to offer (including the kettle bell snatch, which in lab testing has yielded a remarkable rate of burning 20.2 calories a minute over a 20-minute workout—the same rate of caloric burn as a 6-minute mile pace), a premium bell like the Matrix bell is definitely what they should opt for. A poorly produced handle can rip callouses off the hands during snatching, and this test is where the bells differentiated themselves.
In fact, I wouldn’t use the CAP or Rogue bells for high-rep snatching because they have coarse handles and some tackiness from the painted finish. If you order through the company’s website and have a problem, Kettle bells USA will “make it right, period!” by sending a replacement and taking care of return shipping fees.
Photo: Mark Blythe Matrix Elite kettle bell has a slightly different handle dimension and more distance from the ball part of the bell to the handle to create a larger opening for more comfortable two-handed positions. The Matrix bell clearly outclassed the competition for two-handed work, as the smooth, e-coated handle with a wider grip was consistently easy on the hands, even when doing high repetition sets of 20-plus kettle bell swings.
Even when the user advances to the one-handed moves, both two-handed swings and goblet squats should remain essential parts of a kettle bell program. Any flaws in a kettle bell will be exposed when you use just one hand, but the attention to detail in forging a smooth, seamless handle was clearly on display with this bell.
Besides the handle shape, the Matrix Elite (right) looks almost identical to the Dragon Door ROC, which costs anywhere from $30 to $50 more. Photo: Mark BixbyAnother thing that sets the Matrix Elite apart from other kettle bells (including Kettle bells USA's own “classic” line) is the fact that it’s designed to have the same “rack” position (where the round part rests on your forearm) regardless of weight and size.
Most companies use standard molds repeatedly, and inevitably, residue from previous castings creates uneven surface textures like edges or gaps. Finally, Kettle bells USA showed awesome customer service throughout my process of testing.
If you're used to standard Dragon Door ROC kettle bells (or any of its many clones), the Matrix Elite's rack position might feel strange at first, since the ball part sits higher up on the forearm by comparison. If you see the bell offered at full price (with no discounted shipping), wait seven to 10 days, and you should find it available more cheaply.
If the Matrix Elite is unavailable, or if you just want a standard-shaped bell without the wider handle, the Perform Better First Place Kettle bell feels the same in use as the high-end Dragon Door, but costs about 25 percent less. In fact, its dimensions are identical except for the extra half inch of flat base diameter on the bottom of the Perform Better bell.
This means it performs identically, but is easier to hold in a push-up position for the sometimes-precarious renegade row —typically done with two kettle bells of the same size. Like the Dragon Door and Matrix Elite, the First Place has a smooth, seamless handle, few surface defects, and a high-quality finish.
While Perform Better wouldn’t divulge what process it uses, I noticed that it’s somewhere between a matte powder coat and a glossy e-coat. Reading user reviews (see here and here) that slam performs Better for having noticeable seams on the underside of the handle or other defects isn’t helpful considering the construction specs on their bells currently.
The bell I received from them was really well-made, and it showed no signs of being defective in build or user experience. I contacted Perform Better about this discrepancy, and company reps explained that among other small changes, they’d since switched to a gravity casting process, which creates a more uniform surface, as you recall.
It’s also worth noting that Perform Better frequently has sales on its kettle bells, and while it’s usually cheaper to buy Perform Better bells directly from the company, it's worth checking Amazon and Strongest before buying to find the best deal. If budget is your bottom line, then we’d recommend the CAP Cast Iron Competition Bell.
But unless you really need to save a few bucks, it’s worth investing in our top pick, since these things last forever. In fact, none of the five baseball player panelists said they would pay extra for any of the other bells for the basic routines they were testing with.
The powder-coated CAP (left) and Rogue (center) bells are rougher than the e-coated Dragon Door (right). Photo: Mark Blythe CAP bell has a powder-coated matte finish and a slightly gritty (though it’s evenly dispersed grit) handle to provide a good grip (though a bit on the coarser end of those we tested) and a flat bottom so it doesn’t rock when used for push-ups or rowing moves.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the Dragon Door ROC Kettle bell should feel pretty good about itself. Unfortunately for Dragon Door, other companies have been able to duplicate its design at a comparable level of quality for a lot cheaper.
Interestingly, the Rogue bell has a 4.9-star rating on its website, with more than 100 reviews at the time of this guide's publication. Chad Settler, John Forward, Carl Foster, and Mark Andes, Kettle bells: Twice the Results in Half the Time?, ACE Fitness Matters
Unfortunately, many of our pre-pandemic picks below are sold out, but kettle bell stocks haven’t been utterly devastated like those of dumbbells. To help you avoid clicking on your preferred bell only to find it’s unavailable, we’ll collect your best options in stock at the top of the page.
The Demos kettle bells are among the better cheaper options you can find, which partly explains why they come in and out of stock so quickly. If you’re an experienced bell user then head to a manufacturer like Wilkerson, but if you just need a little weight to beef up your home workouts, these will get the job done.
One of our perennial picks, this is coming in and out of stock, but allows you to put your money down and reserve one. If that’s the weight range you’re after, however, your quids in because Mira fit makes high-quality gym equipment.
The handle is stainless steel so there will be no seam and the bell itself is encased in a textured rubber. They’re costly, but these are top-class kettle bells, with consistent size of bell and handle across the set — useful if you take your practice seriously and are splashing out on more than one.
If you’re after more bells and whistles and are willing to pay for it, this neat, space-saving electronic model may be up your street. Simply press a button to choose one of six weights, pull it off its charging cradle and it’s good to go.
An accompanying app supplies workout ideas, and motion sensors in the device will track your reps. Check Argos to see if it’s stock near you or buy from Apple and wait for delivery between 25th July and 1st August.
Training with kettle bells can be an excellent way to boost both your strength and cardio fitness (just check out this kettle bell workout guide) and, like dumbbells, they’re small enough and affordable enough for you get for home use. “ Kettle bell swings, cleans and snatches are repetitive actions, so if you have a rough handle or one with a seam going down the middle, you will soon know about it,” says Lloyd.
Cheaper kettle bell manufacturers will make no real effort to remove this nasty, sharp seam and your hands will soon tear up like you’ve done a day on a building site.” Lloyd recommends running your hands around the entire handle, especially underneath, before buying.
If you’re already in possession of a kettle bell with a raised seam, sand it down so it’s smooth. “Decent kettle bells will have handle diameters that measure about 30-31 mm, going up to around 38 mm for the heaviest bells.
My favorites are competition kettle bells, which generally have a uniform handle diameter of 33 mm regardless of the weight.” “You can tell if they are cheap as they will be covered in vinyl with a rubber bottom and a handle that looks ridiculous,” says Lloyd.
Some cheap bells can have very narrow handles that are nearly impossible to hold on to during kettle bell swings, and feel awkward for snatches.” “These are a bit more price, but if you want consistency, good progression and form then get kettle bells from Wilkerson Fitness.
Lloyd’s favorite kettle bells don’t come cheap, but these colored cast-iron bells are top-notch. Now sure, Lloyd did say that you can recognize bad kettle bells when they have rubber on the base, but let’s be honest — that rubber base also means you’re less likely to dent your floor if you put one down suddenly (aka dropping).
The shape is a little different from a standard kettle bell, but rest assured it can be swung and racked in the same way during your workout. Finding your way around your gym’s cardio machines is fairly foolproof.
Weights, though, aren’t as straightforward, which is why the question of when you should grab a kettle bell versus dumbbell to check off your strength training is often cause for confusion. When you hold a weight, the mass is on either side of your hand, while with a kettle bell it’s directly underneath with a space in the middle.
“With a kettle bell, there is a space between your hand and the actual load, and this added distance acts as an additional lever arm,” says Kelvin Gary, founder of NYC’s BodySpaceFitness. This, he explains can make the load feel either lighter or heavier, depending on its position in space.
“The added benefit here is that its more stimulus for your body to have to adapt to, thereby increasing the need for coordination and stability and ramping up the effort,” says Gary. Squats, lunges, rows, and presses can also all be done with both types of weight, but you may have an easier go using the kettle bell because of the grip.
If the answer is no, you should take things down a notch; if it’s yes, you’re on the right track (and if it’s yes, but you feel like you could do at least four more, grab something heavier). Dumbbells are easier to use than kettle bells, which makes them a great choice if you’re just getting started in the weight-training game.
Even if you’re an advanced lifter, JackieVick, CSS, a trainer at Gold’s Gym notes that dumbbells are usually the better choice for moves that require “pressing and pulling,” because dumbbells help you feel more stable. Renegade rows: In a high plank position with dumbbells in each hand, row one arm at a time, pulling your elbow toward your back and keeping your core engaged throughout the move.
Dumbbell push-press: Standing with your feet hips-width distance apart a set of dumbbells at your shoulders and your knees slightly bent, drive through your lower body to lift them straight over head. Squeeze your core and glutes at the top before lowering back down.
Farmer’s carry : Hold equally weighted dumbbells in either hand, and walk across the floor holding your shoulders back and keeping your core tight. “Kettle bells offer a slight edge in design effectiveness and energy usage during functional movements,” says Pick, adding that they’re better for moves like swings, cleans and snatches because of the way the load is distributed.
However, they can be slightly harder to use than dumbbells, so if you’re new to weight training you may want to build up to kettle bell moves. Single arm swings: Standing with your feet hips-width distance apart, hold onto the kettle bell handle with one hand.
Bending your knees slightly and keeping your back straight, swing the bell in between your legs with control. Explode up, and use the momentum to lift the kettle bell to your shoulder and flip it over your wrist.
These help with hip extensions, and allow you to hit multiple planes in a single move, says Gary. Goblet squats : Hold a kettle bell by the “horns” (aka the side handles), and turn your feet out.
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Those large cannonballs with handles, sitting in the corner collecting dust, look intriguing. But you're not about to start at the bottom, in the “pump” class with puny yellow and pink kettle bells that look like they belong in the daycare.
And as much as I love basic kettle bell moves like the swing, get-up, and snatch, I also recognize that not everyone is ready to subject themselves to the learning curve that goes along with those movements. By that, I mean that strength in awkward positions that fighters and other athletes seem to have in spades, but that barbells, dumbbells, and machines seldom produce.
The task is simple: You're simply going to carry a pair of kettle bells for either distance or time. “The farmer's carry can be summed up as simply 'pick up and go,' but a little cuing can help you reap the most benefits from the movement.”
Improved grip strength, obviously, but what often gets overlooked is how much that carries over to improved total body strength; stronger grip equals stronger A stronger core, which also translates to more overall strength Bigger traps from the strain of supporting the kettle bells The steely forearms like a farm laborer, from the increased tension required from holding the kettle bells Improved conditioning, because carrying a load while walking is incredibly energetically demanding Take a deep breath—about 75-80 percent of maximum—and bend down, folding at the hips, to pick up the kettle bells; exhaling as you do so, similar to a dead lift.
Tighten your abs, lock your rib cage to your pelvis, and keep it there for the duration of your walk. Spend about 10 minutes doing farmer's carries, at a point in your workout where it won't matter if your grip is fried afterward—like the end.
When you hold a kettle bell in one hand, your body has to contract all the muscles on the opposite side of your body—your obliques especially—to keep you from falling over sideways. The suitcase setup and execution is exactly the same as the farmer's carry, with the obvious exception of having that extra kettle bell for balance.
“The rack hold is a powerful position for building strength throughout the body.” Bend down as if you were about to dead lift the kettle bell and grab the handle with your working hand.
The kettle bell will be resting on two points of contact: The back of your wrist and on your upper arm, just below your shoulder. Your forearm and upper arm will form a triangle in which the kettle bell sits.
Your hand should be facing the center of your body, and your elbow pointed down toward your hip. Like the farmer's carry, 10 minutes at the end of your workout is a good plan.
It adds a level of difficulty to the carry that many people find surprising, in the form of increased abdominal stress, respiration demand, and the way it reaches the little stabilizer muscles along your spine. Many gym rats and bodybuilders don't have the necessary wrist and shoulder flexibility to perform a true barbell front squat with a clean grip.
Holding one or two kettle bells also puts a larger-than-normal pressure on the abs, making them work harder than a far greater barbell load would, as I mentioned in my last article. Additionally, I consider the kettle bell front squat to be an incredibly effective “loaded mobility” exercise.
Because of the way the load is situated, your abs automatically contract, your shoulders depress, and your hips magically seem to have more space in them, allowing for a deeper squat than many people can manage with just a barbell. It also serves as a little assessment, since if the two sides feel dramatically different, there's a good chance you have a side-to-side imbalance.
If that's the case, you may not want to load with a heavy barbell, due to the possibility of injury, until you spend some good time with the kettle bell alternative. Squat until you go as low as you can, maintaining pressure in your abs, and keeping a slight extension in your lower back.
The single-arm floor press will not only strengthen your triceps and your lockout, but it will help you refine your bench press groove by positioning your arm in the strongest position to lift big weights. Roll to your side, and grab the kettle bell by the handle, using the pistol grip, like you did with the rack hold.
Pause with your upper arm on the floor for 2-3 seconds and then press the kettle bell. These six movements are more than enough to teach you about the unique challenges and benefits of working with kettle bells.
Experienced kettle bell lifters regularly utilize things like loaded carries and floor presses to address strength deficiencies and practice building tension. When you're ready, the floor press also has the benefit of preparing your arms and shoulders for one of the best kettle bell exercises you can do: the Turkish get-up.
Until then, just keep picking up those heavy beasts, squeezing your core for all it's worth, and holding on for dear life.