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.
More importantly, and again something that affects beginners more than experienced lifters, is that the larger size body rests on the meat of the forearm rather than the bone protrusion of the wrist, which is right where the smaller body of a lighter kettle bell will sit. I can hear the naysayers now — “No pain, no gain,” or “Suck it up buttercup!” Well, I have personal experience 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. With the explosion of kettle bell training over the last 10 years there are now many shapes and sizes available to buy.
Common kettle bell exercises involve swings, lifts, and presses, but unlike weightlifting or powerlifting, kettle bell training can be performed bilaterally and unilaterally in all planes. The Single Arm Dead lift exercise can be performed with any type of kettle bell :
As you can see from the competition kettle bell image above the handle is much smaller and is squarer in design. The advantage of these types of kettle bells is that your hand doesn’t slide around due to the limited space plus you can get used to the size even when the weight changes.
If you choose to go for the cast iron kettle bells then there is still a few more things that you need to know before you buy. Make sure you don’t buy a kettle bell with a handle that’s too thick.
A kettle bell with a handle that is too thick is going to quickly tire out your forearms and finishing repetitions of an exercise can be very tough. The bottom of the kettle bell should have a natural flat but it shouldn’t have an attached rubber or plastic base.
Bases can be good for preventing marks on your floor but unfortunately they’re going to really dig into arm and into your body when you’re using the kettle bell. The fourth thing is to make sure that there are no sharp edges on the kettle bell handle.
Look out for kettle bells that have sharp bits of paint and also check where the handle meets the body that there are no small nicks that can cut into your hands. Avoid a kettle bell that’s a round ball with a big, sharp handle stuck on the top
There should be a nice smooth bit of continuity with the kettle bell from the body into the handle. If the handle spacing is too small you’re going to find it really digs into your wrists when in the racked position or overhead.
If it’s too big, then the kettle bell will lie too far down on the arm and it’s going to dig into your forearm. It seems to be trendy to coat kettle bells in vinyl or plastic to avoid marking floor etc.
However, due to the huge rise in popularity there are now many weight sizes in-between the ones listed above. The great news is that if you make the right purchase you will only need to buy a few of the best kettlebells, and they will last you for a lifetime.
8 kg (17lbs) — perfect starting weight, great for learning the basic movements and later Turkish get ups 12 kg (26lbs) — used for the two handed swing to begin with and then later many other exercises 16 kg (35lbs) — perfect progression for the two handed swing when more advanced to compliment the 12 kg If you feel that 8 kg is too heavy for a starting weight then you need to understand the type of exercises you will be performing.
12 kg (26lbs) — perfect for beginners with no weight lifting experience, great for beginner Turkish get ups 16 kg (35lbs) — starting weight and great for swings and most single-handed exercises 24 kg (53lbs) — great progression for the two handed swing and later other single-handed exercises At a later date more experienced kettle bell practitioners may work on overhead presses with the 32 kg plus may need to bridge the gap between the 16 kg and 24 kg with a 20 kg for single-handed exercises.
I have to say that I’ve learned the hard way and bought lots of kettle bells that turned out to be completely useless. Here are one brand that I have consistently used over the past few years without any problems, they are very reasonably priced and available on Amazon.com in the USA:
For those based in the UK, head on over to Wilkerson Fitness and check out their black series of kettle bells. Cast Iron kettle bells are the most diverse and excellent for beginners and almost anyone not interested in going in to competition.
If you are more advanced and want to focus on purely single-handed exercises than the competition kettle bell may be for you. I’ve also outlined above what size kettle bell women should use and also the recommend starting weights for men too.
When you’re building up your home gym, it’s only natural to think about adding some kind of weights to the mix. And, while you could opt for classic dumbbells, kettle bells offer a little more versatility for your workouts.
With kettle bells, you can do your standard weight lifting, but you can also add swings, jerks, and a bunch of other HIIT moves to the mix. The kettle bell ’s large, easy-to-grip handle and teardrop design make it perfect to use for just about everything.
When you make a purchase on an item seen on this page, we may earn a commission, however all picks are independently chosen unless otherwise mentioned. Easily flip between five, eight, nine, and 12 pounds and—this is a nice perk—since they weights are stackable, they save on space.
This $16 kettle bell, which offers up weights ranging from five to 50 pounds, is an Amazon bestseller. Not everyone feels comfortable gripping an iron kettle bell handle.
You can also ramp up your weight as you build strength with this $34 set, which features five, 10, and 15-pounders. A vinyl coating helps protect your floors and reduce noise.
Many kettle bells are crafted out of cast iron, which isn’t exactly cheap. A wide handle allows for easy grip, while a flat bottom keeps the whole thing from rolling away.
This $144 set doesn’t just provide 15, 20, and 25-pound weights for use—it also pretties up your workout space. Each weight is coated in vinyl and has a special flat, protective bottom to save your floors.
Kettle Grip allows you to take your existing dumbbells and turn them into kettle bells. Just clamp it around the dumbbell handle, close it, and start using your weight like a kettle bell.
This $120 adjustable kettle bell has a massive range, with weight options from five to 40 pounds. It’s all thanks to six drops cast iron plates that can easily be removed or added to change the weight of your kettle bell.
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. Of course if you are 250 lbs and have been lifting weights all your life, feel free to buy whatever size bell you want to!
If you are not active and do not consider yourself to be “in shape” you might want to start with a 12 kg — 26 lb kettle bell. For controlled, grinding movements like Turkish Get-ups and windmills you should choose a kettle bell that you can easily press overhead about 8-10 times.
Out of shape, inactive men should try an 8 kg — 18 lb kettle bell. 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. For ballistic movements like kettle bell swings, cleans and snatches an average, active women should start with a kettle bell between 8 kg — 18 lb and 12 kg — 26 lb.
As with men, for controlled, grinding movements like Turkish Get-ups and windmills you should choose a kettle bell that you can easily press overhead about 8-10 times. 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. They might look like iron casts with handles, but they are the most efficient type of workout equipment you can have in your collection.
Ever since its invention in Ancient Greece, Kettle bells have been known to offer numerous health benefits like encouraging core stability. However, for you to experience the countless benefits kettle bells have to offer, you need to use the right weight when exercising.
For men and women who are active and athletic, the kettle bell weight they should purchase should be higher. Handling flashing is the process of filing down the hands’ underside, leaving the surface smooth.
If it has sharp edges, don’t purchase it as this can injure your hands as you work out. If it’s uncomfortable or too tight when you place both hands, don’t buy that dumbbell.
Be careful in purchasing plastic kettle bells, they may appear like the best option because of their affordability, but they do come with their drawbacks. Their major drawback is that they don’t last as long as the cast steel kettle bell does.
In truth, the number of kettle bells you have doesn’t influence your workout routine. The primary reason why experts recommend the use of one kettle bell is because it fully integrates your body during every workout.
However, once you can comfortably perform the proper technique and form for each exercise, you can add the second kettle bell. Therefore, make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew when choosing the kettle bell weight to purchase.
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.
The kettle bell surface and handle should be smooth and free of artifacts left over from the casting process. You should not have to file or sand down the handle — this is indicative of a low quality 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.
When used correctly, kettle bells are extremely effective training tools for providing total-body strength and conditioning. As with any technical movement, lift, or skill, proper coaching is required to maximize the benefits.
It's a two-for-one exercise, meaning you're able to combine strength training and cardiovascular conditioning into one efficient movement. Though it looks easy to perform, the swing can take a significant amount of time, practice, and coaching to perfect.
Unfortunately, this exercise is often performed incorrectly, which will limit your results as well as any further progressions that are based on this basic movement. The kettle bell goblet squat isn't just a leg exercise; it's another total-body juggernaut that offers more mobility—the ability to move easily so you can safely train with heavier loads—and improved conditioning.
It teaches you to move fluidly, and when you add the external load (a kettle bell) it requires strength, mobility, and skilled movement. It's a powerful full-body exercise that requires attention to detail and a respect for human movement.
For strong, resilient shoulders, improved hip and trunk strength, and enhanced mobility, the Turkish get-up is essential. Once you can do the first three exercises—and have demonstrated appropriate shoulder mobility and stability—the kettle bell press is another exceptional movement to learn.
The unique shape of a kettle bell and offset handle allow you to press in the natural plane of motion relative to your shoulder joint. You just feel like you have more power to press efficiently with a kettle bell, mostly because of the more natural plane of motion.
Similar to the kettle bell swing, the clean is another explosive exercise for total-body strength and conditioning. The difference here is that the kettle bell finishes in the rack position as opposed to being projected horizontally away from your body.
The kettle bell snatch is physically demanding and technical, but offers outstanding total-body strength and conditioning benefits. It can help transcend athletic performance to new levels, build explosive strength, and forge strong, powerful shoulders.
The snatch requires proper technique, explosive hip power, and athleticism. This exercise should not be attempted until the kettle bell swing hip-hinge pattern and explosive hip drive are established.
Though watching videos is helpful, the best way to learn how to correctly do these challenging movements is to work with a certified kettle bell instructor.