The Best Kettlebells For Your At-Home Workout Routine – Sports Illustrated

Best kettlebells

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Kettlebells—or Girya, as they are known in Russia, their place of origin—are an amazing investment for your home gym. You can benefit greatly from a kettlebell or two, even if they are the only piece of at-home workout equipment you buy thanks to how versatile they are. They come in a large array of sizes to accommodate a wide range of upper, lower and full-body exercises.

In this article you’ll find our top picks for your at-home kettlebell set, as well as a comprehensive guide to the different types that are available, and how to find the best option for you. Keep reading past the product reviews for a discussion on what kettlebells are used for, how to choose the correct weight for your kettlebell training and the unique benefits of the different options available.

Our Picks for the Best Kettlebells:

Rogue kettlebells

Rogue’s kettlebells top our list because of the company’s attention to detail in terms of quality and user comfort, as well as the super-wide range of weights available. They’re cast from high-quality first-run iron which allows Rogue a little more control over the production quality. This enables them to cast the entire kettlebell in one piece, so they have one continuous smooth surface; there aren’t any welded seams, cracks, or plastic pieces that could catch your skin or clothes. The matte black powder coat finish is designed to feel smooth and comfortable in your hands, and to hold chalk better than other materials, so you don’t have to reapply every time.

These kettlebells come in 18 weight increments ranging from nine pounds up to 203 pounds. Each weight has a different-colored handle so it’s easy to spot the one you’re looking for out of the lineup without checking all the weights etched into the sides. These gym-quality kettlebells are well-made, easy to grip and accessible for users of all levels.


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Bowflex Selecttech 840 Kettebell

If you’re short on space but big on weight workouts, the Bowflex SelectTech is your answer. It has six different size options and only takes up about as much space as a shoebox. The dial allows users to choose between the weight options: 8-, 12-, 20-, 25-, 35- and 40-pounds. The lower weight options make this kettlebell ideal for users who are doing HIIT, circuits or low weight-high rep workouts. However, these aren’t as ideal for powerlifters.

Compare to our best overall pick, the Rogue Kettlebells, this Bowflex set is a bit less study due to all the moving parts and plastic pieces inside. It’s a unique set up, but Bowflex is so confident in this design that they are offering users a six-week money back guarantee. Additionally, a free one-year membership to the JRNY app is included and offers access to 24 pre-recorded, trainer-led workouts including kettlebell strength, yoga, Pilates, and bodyweight. After the free trial it’s $149 a year for a single user. If a wide range of low-weight kettlebells is your go-to gear at the gym, it might be time to invest in an adjustable option for home: the Bowflex SelectTech 840.


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Amazon Basics Kettlebell

If you are looking for a super low-commitment introduction to kettlebell workouts, this model by AmazonBasics is worth a look. Starting at $21.33 for the 10-pound weight, they only get as expensive as $71.12 for the 50-pound option. Compared to their equal-weight Rogue counterparts, they’re roughly $20 of savings per size. They are solid cast iron with a wide grip and black painted exterior. Though this is a budget option, its construction is designed to be as durable as some of the pricier options on this list. For example, its painted exterior is specifically designed to ward against corrosion. No color-coding between sizes for this brand, but the weight is clearly stamped into the side of each kettlebell.


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Kettlebell Kings Powder Coated Kettlebell

Powder-coating kettlebells is the most durable way to coat them, making them much less likely to chip or crack than painted versions — so you can count on the Kettlebell Kings to be looking fresh for years to come.

The construction of the Kettlebell Kings models is similar to the Rogue version in that they are gravity cast (made from a single piece of cast iron) to ensure maximum durability. This method also increases the weight tolerance (or, the accuracy of the weight to what it says it is) so you can be sure you’re getting an accurate workout. Pound for pound, they are much more expensive than the Rogues—$85 for a 20-pound kettlebell versus $50 for an 18-pound one. However, for those following a strict weight-lifting regimen or even pursuing competitive weight-lifting, the more accurate weight tolerance might be worth the extra cost,

Its smooth handle is designed to be easy to grip and chafe-free for moves where you need to rotate the weight in your hand, such as jerks. Like the rest of the kettlebells in this list, it has a flat bottom — which is truly non-negotiable for us when it comes to storage, as well as ease of handling them.

If you find the brand will fit your hands and your budget, we say go for it. Between the gravity cast and the powder-coating finish, Kettlebell Kings is able to guarantee the structural integrity of their product literally forever by offering a lifetime warranty, which is what we’d expect from weights in this price range.


Check Price or Purchase Kettlebell Kings Powder Coated Kettlebell


Onnit

Primarily a big name in the nutrition and supplement space, Austin-based brand Onnit also makes a handful of fitness training tools as well, including kettlebells, battle ropes and steel maces. Their kettlebells are gravity cast, like Kettlebell Kings, for a more accurate weight measurement, and a super solid ball-to-handle junction. The powder-coated finish is designed to strike the balance between grippy and non-chafing, in order to accommodate tough weight workouts as well as dynamic movements. Also, each weight has a band that’s colored differently than the others, so you can quickly grab what you need without rolling them all around to see what’s stamped on the sides.

Onnit offers their basic kettlebells in eight weights, from 13-pounds to 70-pounds, though they are listed on the website in kilograms, so unless you use that standard to measure your lifts, double check the weight in the product picture before buying.

If you’re all in on these little weighted handles for your fitness journey, Onnit also offers a 6-week kettlebell workout program, that you can follow from home. It’s $50, and they recommend you have two or three different weights in order to fully participate in the program. For fitness folks looking to add some Where the Wild Things Are vibes to your workout, check out Onnit’s line of Primal Bells or Legend Bells.


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CAP Barbell

Kettlebells are used in a few kinds of exercise competitions, namely Crossfit and Kettlebell Sport Lifting. The weights used in competition have to be precisely made in order to ensure they are an accurate weight, like these Cast Iron Competition Weights from CAP. The company claims the weight tolerance (manufacturer variability) is accurate within one percent of the stated weight, a closer percentage than any other kettlebell on this list (the high-quality ones are usually around three percent).

They’re built tough as nails, with a single-cast process meaning no welds or seams, and then powder coated for a durable, chip-free finish. The handles are designed to be wide enough for a two-handed grip, and have a colored band to help you distinguish the different sizes from each other. Store them easily right side up on their flat bottom.

Amazon is currently selling a variety of weights from 18 pounds up to 53. In order to avoid any mishaps or surprises on competition day, you want the most accurate weights you can find for your training, and CAP has the ones you’re looking for.


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REP Fitness

We selected the REP Fitness kettlebells as the model with the best range of weights because while they are tied with Rogue for the number of weight choices (18), the REP weight increments only range from 2.2- to 105.8-pounds. This makes the entire line a little bit more accessible to non-power-lifters because there are fewer large jumps between sizes, so users will find it easier to select a weight that is just challenging enough without overdoing it.

The construction of the REP model is similar to other gravity cast options in this list, in that they are made from a single piece of cast iron to ensure maximum ball-to-handle durability and weight tolerance. Like the rest of the kettlebells in this list, it has a flat bottom — which is truly non-negotiable for us when it comes to ease of use, as well as storage. Its smooth handle is designed to be easy to grip and chafe-free for easy grip transitions, as well as wide enough for large-handed athletes to use for two-handed grip moves such as shoulder rows.

These kettlebells are a great option for anyone looking to add kettlebell workouts to their fitness routine.


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Bionic Body Soft Kettlebell

If you like the idea of kettlebell workouts but find the idea of swinging a cast iron ball around intimidating, consider a soft sided version like the vinyl-coated Bionic Body Soft Kettlebell. This model can help anyone who has a hard time performing dynamic movements with stiff, solid kettlebells. Additionally, they can be easier on your floors if you don’t have a dedicated gym space in your apartment.

The vinyl-wrapped kettlebell is filled with polypropylene cotton and rubber particles and kind of looks like a bean bag chair—but much sturdier. It comes in seven weight options, ranging from 10- to 40-pounds in five-pound increments, and offers a wider-than-average handle with plenty of room for two-handed exercises. The two-year manufacturer’s warranty affords you plenty of time to scuff it up and investigate its durability, but based on the reviews, we think you’ll be more than satisfied.


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TRX rubber coated kettlebell

A beautiful compromise between the iron-only kettlebell and the soft-sided kettlebell is this rubber-coated option from TRX. The entire weight is gravity-cast iron for durability and weight accuracy with a powder coating over the entire surface, but the base has a thin layer of rubber coating, which helps prevent the bottom from corrosion and prevents scuffs on your floor. It comes in eight weight options, ranging from four to eight kilograms (8.8- to 61.7-pounds).

When you buy these from TRX, you have the option to add one month of free membership to the TRX Training Club and get 10% off your kettlebell purchase (it’s normally $5.99 per month). This fitness app offers over 350 pre-recorded workouts for strength, mobility, high-intensity interval training and recovery exercises (some using kettlebells), as well as daily live classes. TRX also offers a 20 percent discount off all TRX products for military personnel, first responders and students, as well as anybody between the ages of 16 and 26. Don’t sleep on these options to get a deal and kickstart your kettlebell workout routine.


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Why Buy Kettlebells?

Kettlebells are a great investment for at-home workout equipment because they are so versatile. With just two or three of these on hand, you can perform a wide range of moves that target all of your major muscle groups. You can also vary the type of workout you use them for, between strength training, high-intensity interval training, circuit workouts or even Pilates.

What Exercises Are Kettlebells Best for?

While there are loads of exercises you can use kettlebells for, there are a few moves that are best done with them than any other piece of at-home equipment. USA Iron lists the six basic kettlebell movements as squat, swing, press, clean, snatch and Turkish get up. These six compound movements engage large muscle groups which are great for increasing your overall strength and functionality. However, like with any workout, your form and technique are really important parts of injury prevention and maximizing your gains, so it’s best to consult an instructor (or at least a few YouTube videos) if you’re a beginner.

How Do I Choose a Kettlebell?

Here are the most important factors to consider when choosing the right kettlebell for your home gym.

Weight

First, decide what kind of exercises you want to use your kettlebell for. This will help you select a weight range that will best suit you. The right weight for each exercise differs from person to person, but REP Fitness offers a starting place for new users who want a little guidance on what to use for the primary kettlebell movements: “For ballistic exercises (kettlebell swings, snatches, cleans), we recommend 35lbs (16kg) to 53lbs (24 kg) for men and 18lbs (8kg) to 35lbs (16kg) for women. For static or strength training (presses, deadlifts, Turkish get-ups) we recommend 18lbs (8kg) to 44lbs (20kg) for men and 13lbs (6kg) to 26lbs (12kg) for women.

If you’ll be using it for lighter-duty workouts, don’t be afraid to start with even lower weights than that. Also, it can’t hurt to pop into a gym and pick up a kettlebell weight or two for a little test run to get an idea if the recommended range is right for you before you purchase your own.

Materials

For the best experience and most durability, we recommend gravity cast iron kettlebells, which most of the models in this list are. However, for beginner users with lighter weights, any cast iron construction will be plenty durable, even if the handle is welded on. Also it is important to consider how the iron is protected: if you’ll be somewhere with hardwood or cement floors, you might want to choose one with some rubber or vinyl coating to protect the kettlebell and the floor from each other.

Cost

The kettlebells in this list range from budget priced options to triple digit investments. While there are definitely differences in the characteristics of kettlebells along the price spectrum, at the end of the day, it’s a weighted ball with a handle. As long as you use it, whatever version you can afford is going to bring you fitness benefits.

Handle grip

Handle circumference makes a big difference in comfort and control, especially for people with smaller hands. As the weights increase along most kettlebell lines, the heavier models have slightly bigger handle circumferences. Usually these are listed on the website, so if you have specific handle size needs, it’s best to check to see if the model you’re buying is going to be on the smaller side. A lot of brands offer “wide handle” models so users with larger hands can comfortably perform a two-handed grip without pinching their fingers.

The handles themselves also come in different shapes, ranging from slightly triangular to pretty boxy. They all offer the top-side grip option, but if you plan use both hands on either side of then handle (the “horns”) for exercises like goblet squats or russian twists, keep in mind that the square version positions your elbows more outward, where the triangular ones help you tuck them in closer to your sides — one isn’t better than the other, it’s just all based on personal comfort.

FAQs

What makes a good quality kettlebell?

Primarily, a kettlebell with solid iron construction and a powder-coat or rubber-coated finish is preferable. All but one kettlebell in this list is made from cast iron, which is super strong, durable and also very compact in terms of mass. Other types of kettlebells include cement-filled models, which are usually limited to smaller weights as they get too big after a certain point. There are also plastic-coated ones, which are slightly less durable than powder coated or rubber coated ones, but both are great options if they fit your needs and your budget.

Do kettlebells burn fat?

Yes. According to a study done by the University of South Wales found that “we can lose around 1.4 percent of our entire body fat through strength training alone, which is similar to how much we might lose through cardio or aerobics.” So whether you’re using them to build lean body mass, or to complete aerobic workouts that get your heart rate pumping, you’ll be burning fat from using your kettlebells.

How do I know if my kettlebell is too light?

One way you can tell if you are using a too-light kettlebell is if you are over-extending the exercise. For example, the range of motion for a kettlebell swing is from between your legs to about shoulder height. If you’re easily swinging way higher than that, you should use a heavier kettlebell.

Can I build leg muscle with kettlebells?

You bet! Kettlebells can be used for all kinds of leg-strengthening movements including squats, lunges, kettlebell swings, deadlifts and hip thrusts.

Do I need two kettlebells?

Two is a good number to start with, because you won’t get as much of a benefit from full-body workouts if you use the same size weight for every movement. Most kettlebell programs recommend having a lighter one for upper body work and cardio-focused workouts, and a heavier one for lower-body and full-body moves.

Some people like to have two kettlebells of the same weight in order to hold one in each hand for exercises like deadlifts, lunges, cleans, or presses. This is also a time saver for workouts that mostly involve single-arm exercises, because you can do both at once.

Are kettlebells better than dumbbells?

Kettlebells are a lot like dumbbells in that they are weights you hold in your hand for a variety of exercises. Kettlebells have the added bonus of a larger handle, which allows for more varied grip options. The biggest difference between the two, however, is that the weighted part of a kettlebell hangs below the handle, while a dumbbell’s weight is balanced on either side. This design makes kettlebells more maneuverable for dynamic movements like jerks, cleans and swings, while dumbbells are best for slow and controlled exercises with smaller ranges of movement that isolate more specific muscle groups.

Prices are accurate and items in stock as of publish time.

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