The best kettlebells are the most versatile home weights if you're looking to build functional muscle. There are many different varieties, so it can be challenging to find the best one for you – hence why we rounded up (pun intended) the best adjustable kettlebells, vinyl kettlebells, kettlebell sets and cast iron kettlebells in this guide to help you get started.
And while the best dumbbells remain the most popular choice of home weight, kettlebells can complement dumbbell training thanks to their ability to combine resistance training with cardio, a process often called functional training. If used correctly, kettlebells can condense a lengthy gym routine into one short, sweaty swinging sesh – try this kettlebell full-body workout if you don't believe us.
Sounds a bit far-fetched? The American Council on Exercise has researched kettlebells and proved that regular kettlebell users benefit from strength gains and enjoy an increase in aerobic capacity, dynamic balance, and, best of all, a dramatic increase in core strength. Need some more inspiration to get started? Here are 3 reasons why you should start kettlebell workouts today, as recommended by a British Kettlebell Champion.
Best kettlebells to buy right now
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Admittedly the Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell looks more like an actual kettle than a home weight, but don't let the looks deceive you. Under the plastic shell, you'll find a set of weights which you can adjust with the dial on the top, making it easier to switch weights between exercises.
As in the case with most one-size-fits-all solutions, the Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell is trying to appeal to all whilst failing to please the individuals; it is definitely more space-saving than having six different kettlebells laying around in your one-bed flat, but it is also rather bulky, making it a bit less convenient to work out with doing one-handed moves.
That said, it is not all that difficult to get used to the shape and the size of the Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell and despite its obvious drawbacks, it should probably be the go-to kettlebell for anyone with limited space in their homes.
The Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell is especially suited for two-handed exercises, like the kettlebell swing, but you can also easily use it for single-leg deadlifts too. Some might feel a bit less inclined to use the Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell for overhead exercises due to the bottom of the being open – exposing the weight plates inside – you can doctor this by holding the handle firmly and pointing it away from you as you move the kettlebell.
Read our full Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell review
Alternatively, hedge your bets with this very affordable, entry-level set of kettlebells. The Mira set offers a decent spread of three plastic weights (5lb to 15lb, which is 2.25kg to 7kg) on a plastic stand. As you can tell, even the heaviest kettlebell in this set isn't extremely heavy, but for toning and one-handed exercises, it should do. The vinyl coating may feel cheaper than the cast iron and steel versions on this list, but all three of these will set you back half the price of a single kettlebell from some of the top brands.
You may have noticed that a number of dumbbell manufacturers have started offering selectable systems that negate the need to fill your house with a spread of weights. Well, JaxJox has taken this idea one step further with its electronically-adjustable kettlebell system, which offers a spread of 5 kg-19 kg in a single, albeit slightly bulky, unit.
It sits on a neat base - that is either plugged into a wall or charged up for workouts on the fly - and users simply toggle a button to quickly swap between the required weights. In addition to this, it can be synched via Bluetooth to a smartphone app that offers a bunch of different workout guides and advice on what weight to select for individual exercises.
It's all very clever, but we found the unit a bit bulky and misshapen compared to regular steel dumbbells, while weights inside the outer unit rattle a bit mid-swing. Plus, you'll have to invest in two of these if you want the ultimate kettlebell workout (squats, two-hand overhead press etc.), and that could get expensive.
Read our full JaxJox KettlebellConnect review
The ONNIT Primal kettlebell range is full of personality. The different weight options depict different types of apes: the small half-pood 'bell is a howler monkey, while the largest, two-and-a-half-pood kettlebell has the face of Bigfoot.
But it's not just about looks. ONNIT Primal kettlebells are made of chip-resistant iron and therefore are super durable. For the same reason, they might not work all that well on hard floors as they might damage them should they not be placed properly. The Primal kettlebells have a 'fat grip', which is better for improving grip strength and especially good for two-handed kettlebell exercises such as kettlebell swings and upright rows. If you find one in stock, we strongly advise buying one as soon as possible.
JTX Fitness is one of the most promising, up-and-coming fitness equipment manufacturers, at least in the UK. Its products are reasonably priced – definitely on the cheap side – but represent good quality and are highly functional. The JTX neoprene-covered kettlebells are a good example of this. They are made of cast iron and come equipped with a thick handle, the former being great for durability and the latter for improving grip. The neoprene sleeve over the cast iron body will help keep the floors intact too.
On the downside, the kettlebells are not perfect, and on multiple items, we found small imperfections, probably from the mould not fitting perfectly or the iron not setting in the mould just right, that could cause discomfort. A small pointy bit on the handle can result in a bruised palm after a gruelling kettlebell swing session.
Nothing that can't be amended with a little bit of filing or patching up, though! And for the price, these imperfections are not only acceptable but also somewhat expected. Otherwise, you would keep on thinking, where is the catch? There is none: these are just decent kettlebells for a decent price. End of story. We compared these bad boys against another cheap kettlebell here: JTX Neoprene Kettlebell vs Again Faster Powder Coated Kettlebell. In case you need some more inspiration before you buy.
We don't know many professional kettlebell athletes, but we are pretty sure they are very aware of Gorilla Sports and its range of competition-spec swingers. With very strict regulations on dimensions and the aperture of the window (the handle, to you and me), these solid steel numbers are really only for the very serious enthusiasts out there.
TRX cast iron kettlebells might be perceived as the real deal, but if you place a Gymreapers cast iron kettlebell side-by-side with a TRX 'bell, it would be hard to tell the difference. They look the same, feel the same and are even made of the same material. They all sport flat, non-wobble bottoms, colour-coded handles and an engraved logo at the front of the kettlebell.
The difference is mainly felt in your wallet: while you will have to pay the premium price of TRX kettlebells, the Gymreapers variety will a bit of extra money in your pocket. It's not crazy cheaper, but cheaper nevertheless, all without compromising on quality. As expected of reasonably-priced, quality kettlebells, the Gymreapers Cast Iron Kettlebell is in short supply, and you will have to keep your eyes peeled not to miss when they are back in stock. Signing up for stock alerts and visiting the Gymreapers website often is highly recommended.
The king of suspension weight training has long sounded the bell for kettlebells, as the lumps of iron make the perfect companion to spruce up any dangling Suspension Trainer workout.
Its premium line of TRX kettlebells are all beautifully finished, and each one has been put through a "premium gravity cast moulding process", which is said to increase durability. It also results in that lovely, flat bottom, which makes it easier to rest the kettlebell on the floor when switching hands during an arduous squat routine. The smooth and consistent finish feels good on the hand, too.
TRX has added a splash of colour to the handles, making it simple to spy the correct weight if swapping between kettlebells mid-workout. I'd say the 16 kg unit is the one to go for if you're a bloke in reasonable shape, but there's a good spread of weights, making this one piece of fitness equipment that will likely outlast the fickle New Year's resolution to shed a few pounds.
How to choose the best kettlebell for you
Unlike dumbbells, kettlebells can take a little time to get used to. It's definitely worth seeking advice at your gym on the correct form to avoid injury. Once mastered, however, the kettlebell will become a regular staple in your fitness regime.
These compact weights are small enough to fit into even the smallest rooms, and the majority of workouts require just one kettlebell, meaning you could enjoy some fat-torching training time from the comfort of your own home for less than a tenner, as long as your home has literally enough room to swing a cat (nb: don't actually swing a cat in order to ascertain this).
If you're really short of space, you could check out the JaxJox KettlebellConnect, which is a digital play on Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbell, offering a spread of weights in one neat package. More on adjustable kettlebells and how they differ from their cast iron counterparts can be read here: adjustable kettlebell vs cast iron kettlebell.
It's a good idea to spend a little bit more to get a product that has been built to last. Where vinyl 'bells could save you a few quid, they can be prone to cracking and splitting, plus the handle seams on cheaper models can be scratchy and uncomfortable.
A solid cast iron kettlebell – or, even better, those with smooth steel handles – tend to be the most comfortable and are also sturdy enough to survive a nuclear attack. Finally, it's also worth noting the handle clearance from the bell (or 'window', to give it the correct title) and its diameter. Larger hands could find certain 'bells difficult to grip and comfortably on the forearm, which is required in burly overhead press exercises.
What is a good weight for a kettlebell?
Those venturing out into the world of kettlebells for the first time should go easy on the weight, as the gruelling sessions will prove impossible if you can't lift the bloody thing above your head. That said, opting for a puny 2kg kettlebell could mean you're not facing enough resistance to thoroughly challenge the muscle. If you can, head to a gym or local fitness store and try out a few weights until one feels right.
An 8- or 10-kilo kettlebell might be plenty heavy enough for beginners and intermediate 'bell-swingers should be able to comfortably handle 16- or even 24-kilo versions. If you aren't planning on flooding your home gym by adding more and more kettlebells to your collection as you progress, you can try unilateral kettlebell swings where you alternate between the two arms at each swing. This can add intensity without having to go heavier.
Is 20 minutes enough for a kettlebell workout?
Any length of exercise is better than not doing any exercise at all, so from this perspective, a 20-minute kettlebell workout is plenty long enough. If you're short on time, you can always try circuit and/or metcon workouts. The best kettlebell workout we've seen so far can be done in 10 minutes, and even harder workouts, the ones you're likely to perform if you tried the 10,000 swings kettlebell challenge, won't last longer than 30 minutes.
Most kettlebell workouts are modular, and you can do them for as long as you like, such as this 2-move full-body kettlebell workout. Others, like the kettlebell get-up or the kettlebell swing, are a full workout in just one move and can be done for as long as you wish.
Ever wondered what the difference is between kettlebells and dumbbells? We'll explain in our dumbbell vs kettlebell article. Also, have you ever wondered what the difference is between competition and training kettlebells? We have the answer for that too here: competition vs training kettlebells. Both are good pre-workout reads.