Cast iron, competition/sport, steel, rubber coated, soft-sand filled, adjustable, medicine ball-like, and more. All kettle bells are cast in a mold, what happens after can be different depending on the company.
After you read about which type of kettle bell you need, we have a great post about determining which weight you need to train with HERE. Depending on whom you ask, you will get different folk stories of what they originally were made from, and what they were used for, as well as which countries claim ownership.
The competition kettle bell is the same size and dimension across the weight range, and is made out of steel. The handle is flat across on top, and joins the body of the kettle bell vertically.
Some brands are an 8 kilogram shell filled with fillers like sawdust and ball bearings to achieve the desired weights, this potentially can become loose and rattle over time or lose balance. More durable competition bells are made from a single piece of steel, cast precisely to the specific weight.
There are ballistics such as Swings, Cleans and Snatches, and grinds, such as Goblet and Double Front Squats, Presses, and Get-Ups. Once beyond the learning phase, the curved handle of the cast-iron kettle bell is the clear winner for swings.
As a result, if the kettle bell ’s contact each other on the way up or down they will have a tendency to bounce off of each other like basketballs. The last thing you want is for the kettle bells to bounce away from each other on the way down and hit the user on the legs.
Another item to consider is that when hiking two large kettle bell ’s through the legs, regardless of weight, the stance used needs to be wide enough to allow room for them to pass. After you read about which type of kettle bell you need, we have a great post about determining which weight you need to train with HERE.
I broke one of my wrists mountain biking years ago, and now have a plate and 8 screws holding the end of my ulna together. Both of these surgeries led me to experiment with competition style kettle bells, which contacted my arm below these sensitive areas.
After you read about which type of kettle bell you need, we have a great post about determining which weight you need to train with HERE. If you are a gym, I would strongly recommend a full set of both cast-iron and competition style kettle bells.
After you read about which type of kettle bell you need, we have a great post about determining which weight you need to train with HERE. We recommend you read more about receiving a quick, free, dynamic kettle bell workout every week you can click below.
Tim Peterson is the Chief Instructor and Director of Content and Curriculum for Titrant, a revolutionary fitness ranking system based on standardized strength and conditioning tests utilized currently in over 1,000 gyms worldwide in more than 25 countries. Tim has a MS and BA in Kinesiology, and has taught High School Weightlifting for over a decade.
He uses his experiences in and observations of the fitness industry as inspiration for his writing, which appears on the Titrant website, as well as guest posts for Dan John, Kettle bell Kings, and others. For more of Tim’s writing as well as more information about Titrant, a unique challenge that is both standardized yet personal due to tests based upon gender, age, and body weight, visit www.fitranx.com.
Kettle bell Kings creates new workout each week which you can receive in your email inbox. Ballistic (explosive) lifts: swings, cleans, snatches, tossing, juggling.
For ballistic lifts you can use a heavier kettle bell than with slow, grinding movements like get-ups and windmills that must be carefully controlled throughout the entire range of movement and require a smaller bell. Our experience with kettle bells has boiled it down to the following general recommendations for men and women.
All cast iron kettle bells such as the Matrix Elite precision e-coat series change dimensions, including handle diameter, as the weight increases or decreases. Many men have the unfortunate habit of starting out with a kettle bell that is too big for them.
Add the fact that if you have only used dumbbells and barbells for weight training, snatching a kettle bell for the first time may come as a bit of a shock to your system and ego! Men take our advice and don't buy a heavy bell unless you already know you can manage it.
Lifting kettle bells will not make you big and bulky and rob you of your feminine curves. On the contrary, with proper training and dedication it will give you the body you've always wanted.
Single Cast Mold With No Seams, Ridges or Rough Spots. A quality kettle bell is cast in a single step into the mold and is finished like a piece of fine furniture.
Competition or “Pro Grade” kettle bells are made to fixed specifications. To find out more about the differences between cast iron and competition kettle bells click here.
Real kettle bells are designed to be balanced in a certain way, and they are actually precise tools. If a kettle bell can be improved by new materials or a new engineering insight or manufacturing process so that real users will benefit then we will do so, however, we are not interested in gimmicks that are solely designed to misinform consumers and take their hard-earned money from them.
We have been in the kettle bell business for some years now, and we will not compromise our principles just to make money off innocent, uninformed consumers. Without proper kettle bell lifting technique you will not get the full benefit of the movement and you greatly increase your chance of injury, and this defeats the purpose of training with kettle bells in the first place.
We recommend that whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced lifter, that you have a few kettle bells in different weights. Also, the high leverage lifts such as Turkish Get-ups, Windmills and Bottoms-up presses, require less weight especially when you are first learning them so having a range of kettle bell weights will give you the required training flexibility need to progress.
If your budget can handle it then buy at least two kettle bells to start with in different weights and then add to your collection as your form gets better and your conditioning level increases. CrossFit aficionados use this term quite a lot as do many old school kettle bell instructors.
At Kettle bells USA® we prefer kilograms or pounds because we think “Food” is a confusingly weird word! Some other aspects of kettle bell design are grip diameter, grip width, ball diameter, the distance from the top of the ball to the bottom of the handle.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Kettle bells have become a popular fitness tool over the last decade, and for good reason. I’ve learned through trial and error that kettle bells are not all created equally.
It’s important to consider several factors when choosing a kettle bell, which is why I put together this guide to answer common questions. Competition kettle bells are typically differentiated by color coding.
Both types of kettle bells will work for general home fitness purposes. The main advantage of classic cast-iron kettle bells is a lower overall cost.
The main advantage of competition steel kettle bells is the consistent size. These kettle bells aren’t designed to be used in competitions, so they don’t have to meet stringent weight tolerance requirements.
They can therefore be offered at a lower cost than true competition kettle bells while retaining the benefit of consistent sizing. They tend to be cheap and well reviewed on sites like Amazon, but don’t be led astray.
There are a few companies making kettle bells with faces on them, like monkeys, zombies, skulls, etc. However, competition steel kettle bells shouldn’t be ruled out altogether.
Rapid progress can be made with competition kettle bells, which may justify the higher cost. One is referred to as “hard style” training, which emphasizes powerful movement in a short period of time.
I own and use several types of kettle bells on a regular basis Kettle bells generally range in weight from 8 kg (18 lb) to 48 kg (106 lb). It’s important to choose the right weight to start with in order to learn proper technique.
However, such broad advice isn’t helpful without a baseline description of what ‘average’ is. If you’re a healthy and active person under 40 years of age with no history of injuries or back pain, the standard advice will probably apply.
If you spend a lot of time sitting, are above 40, or have a history of injuries or back pain you may benefit from starting with a lower weight. As you advance in your training there will always be more challenging ways to use your first kettle bell.
This extends to the base of the kettle bell, which should be ground completely flat. Imperfections on the handle can pinch or cut skin during movements, and a wobbly bottom hinders the kettle bell from providing a stable base for exercises that require the bell to act as a platform.
For cast-iron kettle bells, the coating on the handle must provide enough traction to keep hold of with minimal need for chalk while still allowing the handle to rotate smoothly in the palm with minimal friction. Handle diameters for competition steel kettle bells will be a uniform size regardless of manufacturer, which is good and bad.
In that review, I make a point of discussing handle dimensions for each brand. You can always reconsider a quality adjustable kettle bell later if you decide it will help you achieve your ongoing fitness goals.
I’ve had the opportunity to work extensively with kettle bells from many major manufacturers. For simplicity’s sake I’m going to focus on a handful of companies making some of the best kettle bells available.
These recommendations come from my personal experience in seeking the best kettle bells for home use. Third, and most importantly, the Matrix Elite Precision line is designed to rest on the same place on your forearm regardless of size.
Kettle bells USA also makes a Classic E-coat that is similar in style and coating to Dragon Door kettle bells, but with a higher quality finish and much lower price. The main benefit of a powder coat over an e-coat is a reduced need for chalk.
I train with kettle bells primarily at work and at home, and I can’t use heavy chalk at either location. The powder coat finish on the Kettle bell Kings Powder Coat kettle bells provides just enough texture to maintain a good grip with sweaty palms without needing chalk.
The feel of the kettle bell was a prime consideration for the design and the care that was taken with it definitely shows. The finish is very clean and slightly rough, with one of the most durable powder coatings I’ve seen.
The combination of the finish and coat result in a handle that will hold a lot of chalk, but you’re probably not going to need it unless you sweat buckets. The intent is to increase comfort while holding the kettle bell overhead and in the rack position.
I’ve found the curve of the handle to have a noticeable difference on my training. The curved handle fits nicely in my palm and I can definitely tell my grip strength lasts longer when I use this kettle bell.
The Paradigm Pro Elite kettle bells are designed from the ground up to be high precision fitness tools. These kettle bells are cast as a single piece of steel with no seams, burrs, or welds and no filler material.
This is just an all around well-made kettle bell that is very comfortable to use for long periods. The handle window is wide enough to fit two hands in, which is great for two-hand swings.
There are no surface imperfections visible to the eye and the handle are very smooth to the touch. This type of coating allows for high-rep snatch and swing sessions without the need for chalk.
These kettle bells are weighted in five pound increments rather than kilograms, removing the need to do kilogram-to-pound conversion math in my head. There are several factors to consider when choosing a kettle bell, and this guide should answer most common questions.
I sincerely hope you’ve found this kettle bell buyers guide to be useful. If you have questions that I didn’t cover, add them in the comments and I’ll do my best to address them.
This one workout tool will help you transform your entire body and allow you to achieve all of your health and fitness goals. Kettle bells, which are essentially weighted balls with handles, provide the perfect workout by increasing strength, endurance, agility and balance while also challenging both the muscular and cardiovascular system with dynamic, total body movements.
Training with kettle bells will allow you to develop total body strength, generate fast weight loss to remove unwanted fat, restore youthful flexibility to reduce injury and improve mobility all while redesigning the shape of your entire body. Thousands of people have experienced the cardio and muscular endurance benefits of kettle bell training.
Since kettle bells distribute weight unevenly, they challenge your core during exercise and work your muscles in new ways, which can give you the results you're after. Unlike bodybuilding, which builds the front of body’s “mirror muscles,” kettle bells create functional strength and a less bulky but still ripped, toned appearance.
Adrienne Harvey of the Girl Girl website writes that kettle bell work for women results in a body like that of a gymnast or martial artist. Your physique won’t cooperate if you undermine your hard kettle bell workout with junk food and an overly high caloric intake.
PricePriceNot sold onlineAvailable online of stock online The workout gets your heart pumping and uses up to 20 calories per minute: about as much as running a 6-minute mile.
Kettle bell workouts offer a lot of flexibility. Sign up for a kettle bell class at the gym or online to learn how to do the moves safely.
It won’t take long to understand why celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Biel, and Katherine Hall are huge fans of kettle bell workouts. You’ll work up a sweat doing a series of fast-paced cardio and strength-training moves like kettle bell swings, lunges, shoulder presses, and push-ups.
Most kettle bell workouts include squats, lunges, crunches, and other moves that work your abs and other core muscles. The kettle bell is used as a weight for arm exercises like single-arm rows and shoulder presses.
Lunges and squats are among the most popular moves in a kettle bell workout. Your tush will be toned by using the kettle bell for added weight during lunges and squats.
Using a kettle bell for a dead lift helps tone your back muscles. The kettle bell is an effective weight that will build muscle strength.
You may want to sign up for classes in person or online to learn the basics of a kettle bell workout. Yes, if you take a class or pick a DVD that's for beginners and use a lighter kettle bell.
Depending on the program, you may be getting both your strength training and your aerobic workout at the same time. If you choose a kettle bell that is too heavy or if you have poor form, you are likely to lose control of it.
This can lead to a serious injury to your back, shoulders, or neck. Start out with an experienced trainer who can correct your technique before you hurt something.
Adding a kettle bell to your existing workout is great if you want to burn through more calories in less time. This type of high-intensity workout is not for you if you would rather do a more meditative approach to body sculpting, or if sweating isn’t your thing.
With your doctor’s OK, you can include kettle bells in your fitness routine if you have diabetes. Muscle burns energy more efficiently, so your blood sugar levels will go down.
Depending on the workout, you may also get some cardio to help prevent heart disease. Continued Using kettle bells in your workout puts some serious demands on your hips and back, as well as your knees, neck, and shoulders.
If you have arthritis or pain in your knees or back, then look for a less risky strength-training program. If you have other physical limitations, ask an experienced instructor for advice on how to modify your workout.
Watch this video on the best starting weight for kettle bell training All kettle bell exercises are based on full body movements so unlike dumbbell training there are no isolation based exercises like bicep curls or tricep extensions.
Kettle bell exercises use 100’s of muscles at a time meaning you are able to lift more weight but also condition the body quicker. The Kettle bell Swing is based on our strongest movement pattern: the Dead lift (see image below).
Whenever you pick something up from the floor you are using the dead lift movement pattern. A light kettle bell will not challenge your full body especially not your powerful hips and legs.
Kettle bells are traditionally available in the following sizes and classified in goods, a Russian weight measurement: Remember you should start with those big strong exercises using the dead lift movement patterns for the best results.
Trust me, I’ve never trained a lady who has started on anything lower than a 8 kg (15lbs) kettle bell. Women will drag suitcases, carry shopping bags or hold children under one arm, you are stronger than you think, so start with at least a 8 kg (15lbs).
I have trained men using kettle bells above 24 kg (53lbs) but for the majority of your basics this is as heavy as you will need to go. It is possible by changing exercises and increasing the difficulty of movements to only ever need one kettle bell if you make the correct purchase to begin with.
Most women will start their kettle bell journey with a 8 kg (17lbs) and progress to a 12 kg (25lbs) relatively quickly. Most male beginners will start with either a 12 kg (25lbs) or a 16 kg (35lbs) depending on their weight training background.
As part of my FAQ section, I want to help you choose the best weight to start your Kettle bell Training with. Depending on the source you go, to there will be differing opinions on this, so I am recommending these weights based on how I see many beginners cope and with consideration to the type of training I do here.
This is the most vulnerable group, as these individuals need as much focus to be on good form for the exercise, rather than being distracted by the struggle to hold a heavy weight too. I think some beginners put a lot of stress on themselves to be great, especially those who already train.
Strength with Kettle bells takes time to build, and this cannot happen without first understanding what the heck you are doing. Making sure you can perform the exercise effectively before increasing the weight is SO important, which is why I am playing it safe with my recommendations.
When we become arrogant and proud is when we stand to get hurt the most (which doesn’t just apply to Kettle bells). Once you get the hang of the exercises, your confidence will improve and you will feel happier about using that heavy KB.
So there is no reason to be afraid of weight progression, provided your form is good. Many women often struggle with strength, stability, power and confidence, so these things will be overcome quickly with KB training, provided the correct progressions are made.
I can attest to that personally because I have trained with KB's, in this fashion, for over 2 years now and the only part of me that has become “bigger” is my booty! The high intensity and explosive nature of KB training make it very difficult for you to gain much muscle; instead will get a lot stronger and very well conditioned.
Which translates as “tighter” and “leaner” (provided your diet supports your training goals). This may seem “too safe”, but I have seen many men struggle to complete my workouts with weights they normally find easy.
Men tend to try and progress the weight too rapidly, and they end up not mastering good technique. It just happens that the genders do behave differently around weights, and even more so when there are spectators present.
Many people assume that because they can lift Kg with a Barbell or Dumbbell, that they can go right to the equivalent with a KB. I’d recommend testing your SKILL (not your strength) by choosing one of the lower weights first.
However, women should realistically be using 16 kg regularly as an intermediate and moving on to 20 kg and 24 kg as they advance (depending on the exercise). The advantage of these is that the Bell is fairly compact and can be easily racked by smaller individuals and will not be as likely to get in the way of females’ breasts.
The Competition/Pro Grade Kettle bell (usually more expensive): Made of Hollow Steel, they are all the same size no matter the weight. The advantage of this is that your technique never alters to accommodate a different weight through progression.
Personally I love my Pro-Grades, as they have a very stable base for doing push-ups, renegade rows etc, plus the handles are thinner and smoother than most Standard KB, making grip less of an issue. I recommend sourcing good quality Kettle bells with smooth (single cast are best), rounded handles.