- Kettlebells are a great way to make the most of every exercise session as they allow you to combine strength work with cardio and flexibility training.
- Before you start using a kettlebell, take the time to learn proper form and make sure you start with appropriate weight in order to minimize the risk of injury.
- Our top pick, the Everlast Vinyl Dipped Kettlebells, features a thick vinyl coating, a color-coded weight system, and comes in a variety of weight options perfect for any home gym.
Editor's note: Due to fluctuating stock, many of the picks may be out of stock, back-ordered, or low in stock. We will keep this updated as best we can.
If you get into serious strength training, it won't be long before you find your hands wrapping around the grip of a kettlebell. Even if you've yet to use those large, bell-shaped weights with thick handles on top, it's likely you've seen them either at your local gym or as the centerpiece of a live-streamed workout. They're popular for good reason.
The odd shape of a kettlebell allows for a more dynamic range of movement than you get with a traditional dumbbell. Thus, kettlebells are used not only for strength training but also for cardio work, flexibility and balance training, and to target multiple muscle groups at once.
Why you should add kettlebells to your workout
For some professional perspective on the importance of kettlebells, I spoke with R.J. Cincotta, director of fitness with Orange Theory Fitness Long Island and a 15-year veteran of the professional training and fitness world. Though most Orange Theory gyms don't use kettlebells, Cincotta spoke to Business Insider based on his own extensive fitness experience.
"Kettlebells are best used for power movements," Cincotta said. "You're going to use them for squats and swings, and you'll use them for a lot of single-sided exercises often referred to as asymmetrical movements. You can even use kettlebells for stability work, as well."
What makes a kettlebell harder to use than a dumbbell lies with its shape which puts the weight several inches away from your hand. This means you'll need to activate more of your muscles as you stabilize the weight. With a kettlebell, every single-handed exercise like curls, shoulder presses, snatches, and so on is that much more productive. And for two-handed exercises like goblet squats, the grip shape means added stability so you can focus on your form, as well as your core, glutes, quads, and other muscles.
Before you start swinging your new kettlebells around wildly, make sure you take some time to learn how to properly execute the exercises for which they are so helpful when used correctly.
"When you're using kettlebells, safety is the first thing," Cincotta said. "Many people just start swinging them around and don't focus on form. There's such a dynamic difference using them [compared to other weights] that you really need to learn form first. And you don't want to go too heavy too quickly; that's a very easy way to get injured."
With that advice in mind, we tested a variety of kettlebells from brands like Everlast, TRX, and Bowflex to find the best currently available. So, no matter if you're just looking for a set to round out your home gym or want to kick your weekly fitness routine up a few notches, there's a set of kettlebells perfect for you.
Here are the best kettlebells:
- Best kettlebell overall: Everlast Vinyl Dipped Kettlebell
- Best kettlebell for interval training: TRX Training Kettlebell
- Best adjustable kettlebell: Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell
- Best low-cost kettlebell: AmazonBasics Vinyl Kettlebell
- Best soft kettlebell: Bionic Body Soft Kettlebell
Updated on 9/4/2020 by Rick Stella: Updated the section on why you should add a kettlebell to your workout, checked the availablity of each recommended kettlebell, and updated the prices and links where necessary.
Everlast's Vinyl Dipped Kettlebells are coated with a thick, colorful layer of vinyl which makes them safer to use and allows for quick identification of each weight.
It only takes smashing a cast-iron kettlebell into the side of your knee one time to teach you that smashing a cast iron kettlebell into the side of your knee is no fun. That's why these kettlebells from Everlast are a great choice.
"I've used Everlast kettlebells for years," Cincotta told Business Insider. "When the bell itself is coated like this, as opposed to metal-based, you're able to do much more with the bell without accidentally tearing up your body."
You're also at less risk of grabbing the wrong weight for a given exercise thanks to the bright coloring of the vinyl casings of these kettlebells. Each different weight increment has a distinct color, so within a few minutes of using a given kettlebell, you'll know at a glance how much it weighs. They're also available in multiple increments between five and 35 pounds.
Whether used for suitcase squats, lunges, presses, or core training, these are reliable kettlebells from a company with more than 110 years of history in the fitness gear arena.
Pros: Protective vinyl coating, easy-to-use color coding, decent price point
Cons: Maximum weight too low for some athletesThe best kettlebell for interval training
TRX Training Kettlebells have lightly textured handles that allow for a secure grip and easy transitions, ideal for use during high-intensity exercise.
If you're a fan of HIIT exercise (high-intensity interval training), then you'll appreciate these kettlebells that are perfectly suited to the fast, highly specific motions used in such routines. Their textured grips ensure you keep a steady grasp even when you're sweaty, moving fast, and rapidly switching between various different exercises.
TRX offers kettlebells weighing just four kilograms (8.8 pounds) all the way up to 40 kg (88 pounds) with moderate increases between each option, so you can choose the exact amount of weight to suit your body for any given exercise.
Another feature to note is the broader flat base these kettlebells have over most competitors. That extra flattened surface area makes these kettlebells more stable, a bonus when you're setting them down fast during HIIT workouts especially, but useful all the time.
One significant drawback is the price, however — these aren't cheap.
Pros: Textured handles for secure grip, multiple weights offered, broad flat base adds stability
Cons: Quite expensiveThe best adjustable kettlebell
With your Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell you get six kettlebells in one, which is ultimately one of the best values around.
Yes, $149 is a lot to pay for a kettlebell. But when you factor in that you're paying for six kettlebells, it turns into quite the deal.
The 840 gets its name from its lowest and highest weights, which are eight pounds and 40 pounds, respectively. In between those low and high options, you get 12-, 20-, 25-, and 35-pound increments, a good spread for people of varying strength and for a single person's use at varied exercises.
Switching between weights is quick and easy, too. You simply turn a dial and lift up on the handle, and the extra weight is left sitting there on the ground. Beyond the ease of use during active exercise, you'll also appreciate what is effectively six kettlebells only occupying the space of one.
The benefits of the design are clear here but with that said, there are a few drawbacks, the largest of which is that kettlebell is less ergonomic than a standard option. The handle is slimmer and doesn't have the flared shape of most kettlebells, and the overall unit is larger than solid options, which might make some exercises harder to execute properly.
With a few reps, you should get used to the shape, though, and the pros far outweigh the cons.
Pros: Six kettlebells in one, affordable compared to buying six weights, easy to adjust
Cons: Handle is less ergonomic than standard options, bulky especially for use at lighter weightThe best low-cost kettlebell
An AmazonBasics Vinyl Kettlebell is largely indistinguishable from kettlebells offered by other brands, but you'll pay a few bucks less.
There's plenty of positive things to say about the kettlebells from AmazonBasics. They're coated in a thick vinyl that protects your skin and helps minimize the chance of scuffing the floor or scratching a piece of furniture; they come in a wide range of weights, starting at 10 pounds and reaching all the way up to 60, with 11 increments along the way; and their colorful coatings make it easy to tell one weight from another.
Here's the thing: That description fits just about any decent set of kettlebells. What sets these apart from the pack is that they cost on average 15% less than generally comparable options such as those from Everlast.
For that reduced price, you can expect a slight reduction in quality. Many of the kettlebells sold under the AmazonBasics banner have minor imperfections in the handles such as irregular bumps or little holes.
These flaws shouldn't be deal-breakers unless you have sensitive hands. Also, you can always work out with gloves on, which many people do as a general rule anyway.
Pros: Great price point, good spread of weight increments, colorful vinyl coatings
Cons: Grips often have minor imperfectionsThe best soft kettlebell
The Bionic Body Soft Kettlebell is plenty heavy but soft to the touch, so you won't break a toe or crack a tile if you accidentally drop one.
If you work out often enough, at some point you are going to have an accident. Dropping weights is a fact of life, and it's why gyms have padded floors. If you're working out on the hardwood or tile floors of your own home, that dropped weight might lead to an unexpected and unpleasant home repair project — or, potentially, an ER trip to fix a broken toe.
That is, of course, unless you were working out with a soft-sided kettlebell. Bionic Body's Soft Kettlebells come in a decent range of weights, spanning 10 to 35 pounds, and they're both durable and solid-feeling in your hands.
There's no sacrifice of function in the name of making them soft-sided, and you won't even pay that much more for these kettlebells than you would for standard iron or vinyl-coated weights.
The leather wraps around the weights won't chafe or irritate your skin, so these kettlebells make for more comfort. But with being leather, the exterior can get scuffed and torn in a way a solid kettlebell can't, so you do need to treat these with a bit more care than with other options.
Pros: won't damage flooring and less prone to injure, decent price point for a unique product
Cons: leather exterior damages more easily than standard kettlebellWhat else we tested
Many brands offer their own version of the kettlebell incredibly similar to one another, so there's little reason to look much beyond the list we put together. There are, however, a few specialty options and accessories worth your consideration:
- Meister MMA Elite Portable Sand Kettlebell: This option is a sack made from rugged PVC that can be filled with sand to create a functional kettlebell. Empty, the sack packs down flat for easy storage or travel. Filled and with the neoprene handle wrapped into place, this portable kettlebell lets you knock out snatches, standing rows, and more anywhere you go — so long as you can find sand.
- Kettle Gryp: The Kettle Gryp is a one-pound plastic grip that affixes to any dumbbell with a grip wider than 4.5 inches and converts dumbbells into kettlebells. So that stack of free weights you have there in your garage? Every one of those could be used just like a kettlebell.
- Yes4All Adjustable Kettlebell Handle: If you have weight plates in your home (the disc weights with holes for mounting them on bars, e.g.) then a Yes4All Adjustable Kettlebell Handle can create an ad hoc kettlebell of myriad weight combinations.