Kettlebell training has become very popular in gyms and for home workout enthusiasts in recent years.
With so much choice, purchasing the right kettlebell for your gym facility or home gym can be overwhelming. This is why we have created a kettlebell buyers guide to help you make an informed decision before purchasing.
With kettlebell workouts growing in popularity, many users will choose to learn the basics with an instructor or personal trainer at the gym, and then continue working with kettlebells in the privacy of their own home. This means there is a growing number of more affordable kettlebell products on the market.
This guide will provide you with an overview of the different types of kettlebell to consider when buying for a gym or for home use.
There are two main types of kettlebells on the market, cast iron and steel, but we will talk about the following four categories:
Cast Iron Kettlebell
Cast iron kettlebells are the entry level product in this field. They offer the best value for money and can often be purchased as a package with a range of weights. Usually this type of kettlebell will be one single piece of metal made from a single mould.
Vinyl Coated Kettlebell
Not only does coating the body of a kettlebell with vinyl make the product more attractive, it also protects both the metal core of the vinyl coated kettlebell and the floor from being damaged. Coloured coatings are also useful for weight differentiation in gyms.
Rubber Coated Chrome Handle Kettlebell
Chrome handles on kettlebells are particularly stylish and are very popular. The chrome finish makes sure that the handle is perfectly smooth for a more comfortable grip when using the kettlebell.
Competition kettlebells are all a standard size and shape regardless of the weight of the kettlebell. These are great for users who have used kettlebells often and have developed their technique. The wide base is perfect for performing floor based exercises.
Competition Kettlebells, which are made of steel are often called "pro" quality. The alternative is standard cast iron kettlebells, which are usually cheaper. Both are available in a full selection of weights.
The main difference between the standard and competition grade product is that competition kettlebells are consistent in size across the range of weights. The reason for this is so that athletes a) don’t gain any advantage over competitors and b) don’t have to adjust their technique when increasing the weight. When an athlete moves to a heavier kettlebell, the distance between the base and the handle should stay constant so as not to have any impact on the movements or techniques used. This is consistency of size is achieved by hollowing out the centre of the lightest kettlebells.
Cast iron kettlebells are normally made in a mould as a single piece of metal which can unfortunately mean that the handle isn't very smooth and can be rough to work with. Make sure the handle is comfortable when considering cast iron. Due to the fact the cast iron metal ball may get bigger as the kettlebell gets heavier, the distance between the ball and the handle can vary.
Another subtle difference between competition and standard kettlebells will also be the width of the handle. In competition, kettlebell athletes will perform a high number of reps, making overly thick handled bells too difficult to grip. Some kettlebell exercises are performed using two hands, like a two handed swing. The handle should not only be an appropriate size to grip, but also wide enough to fit two hands on.
As well as competition bells being constructed from one cast and made of steel they are also more durable than cast iron and will serve well in a commercial environment where they will be used several times every day. A good cast iron kettlebell may also be made from one cast, but many on the market are not, so it is worth checking.
Cheap cast iron bells often have had the handle welded to the body of the bell which significantly reduces the level of use it can withstand. The weakness at this join may also make it less suited for performing exercises such as kettlebell walks, planks or push ups.
Many kettlebells are now covered with a neoprene or rubber covering. This serve as both protective layering for the kettlebell and reinforcement of the join between the handle and ball.
These shock absorbent coverings also mean that the kettlebell wont make as much noise if dropped. This can be ideal in a commercial environment which might see 20-30 kettlebells being put down on wooden studio flooring at the same time.