Our CrossFit-loving expert found the best kettlebells of 2021.
While not as well-known as dumbbells and barbells, kettlebell weights are one of the most versatile and (dare I say) fun pieces of workout equipment you’ll find. The simple design (it’s basically a ball of metal with a handle) belies the incredible array of uses in the fitness world.
Kettlebell weights range in size from 2.5 pounds to over 100. The best kettlebell workouts can work every muscle in the body. People use kettlebells to lose fat, gain muscle, and increase coordination. Thought to be developed in Russia in the late 1800s, strength devices similar to kettlebells have been found as far back as the halteres used in ancient Greece.
Kettlebells have recently come back into the spotlight. Their versatility has made them standard pieces of equipment in HIIT training, in CrossFit workouts, and in home gyms worldwide. We looked at some of the best kettlebells that you can buy for your home gym, from single kettlebell weights to kettlebell sets. Here’s what we found.
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The Best Kettlebells of 2021
Best Overall: Kettlebell Kings Competition Kettlebell Fitness Edition
When a design is as simple as a kettlebell, it’s the details that make the Fitness Edition of the Kettlebell King’s Competition Kettlebell ($90-250) stand out. These steel kettlebells are all the same size regardless of weight. This design provides users with the same workout experience every time they pick one up. KB Kings achieves this by using hollow interiors with fillers to hit the desired weight.
The wide handles provide plenty of room for two hands on kettlebell swings. The flat top of the handle is extremely comfortable during farmer carries and pushups. KB Kings also pitted the handle, which provides a better grip than smooth polished handles.
Additionally, the flat sides are much more comfortable when resting on forearms. This comes in handy on overhead movements like shoulder presses and Turkish Get Ups. As a nice touch, the logo is recessed instead of stamped on. The recessed logo eliminates the bumps that can bruise or irritate forearms and wrists when the kettlebell goes overhead.
In addition, Kettlebell Kings also offers programming for kettlebell workouts on its website. Each program costs $35 on the site. The programming is four weeks of four workouts with an active recovery day. The program goals include fat loss and muscle gain and can be adjusted for use with kettlebell sets or a single kettlebell. There is also a coaching certification program for $100.
Of all the bells that we’ve worked out with, these are easily the most comfortable and easy to use. They are on the higher side of the price range, but in this case, you get what you pay for.
- Weight range: 20-100 lbs. in 5lb. increments
- Exceptional build
- Same size across weight spectrum
- Flat sides
- Wide handle
Runner-Up: Rogue Kettlebells
The standard kettlebell in almost every CrossFit gym, Rogue Kettlebells ($25-246) are known for their solid build and durability. Cast from high-quality iron ore (not scrap) in a single piece, these are almost impossible to break. Over almost a decade of working with these bells, we have seen these dropped from varying heights on to concrete, thrown through drywall, and accidentally thrown into each other. We have yet to see one take any damage. You’re basically working out with a cannonball.
The black powder coat finish is durable and feels more natural than an epoxy finish. It is pitted and grippy and holds chalk well. The wide, flat base keeps the bell stable and prevents wobble on the floor.
Rogue Fitness has one of the best reputations in the fitness industry for the quality and build of its products, and its kettlebell is a prime example. This popularity and the price of the premium materials also mean they’re on the higher side when it comes to price. The good news is that you’ll never need to replace one.
If you’re looking to add equipment that will last a lifetime and add some street cred to your garage, Rogue’s kettlebell is a great choice.
- Weight range: 9-203 lbs. in varying increments
- Solid build
- Void-free surface
- Matte finish
- Weights up to 203 lbs.
Best Budget: Amazon Basics Cast Iron Kettlebell Weight
If you’re building your gym on a budget, The Cast Iron Kettlebell Weight ($22-71) from Amazon Basics is a great choice for the price. While similar in price to the higher end kettlebells on this list, Amazon’s free shipping and returns with Prime make it a great buy.
Made from solid cast-iron, the bell itself is extremely durable. The painted exterior is textured and helps prevent corrosion. We appreciate the wide, textured grip, which easily fits both hands even on the smallest size bell. The bottom is flat to prevent wobble, and the sides are flat for comfort on overhead movements.
The only issues we’ve had in these are in the quality of the build. We’ve seen some come in with sharp ends left on the handles from the casting process. This can lead to discomfort and cuts on high-repetition workouts. These small protrusions can also occur on the bottom of the bell. This makes the kettlebell less stable when doing pushups on them.
These aren’t an issue regarding design, however. It’s more of an issue in the process, so these issues are rare. And if they do happen, Amazon has an excellent return and exchange policy.
- Weight range: 10-50 lbs. in 5lb. increments
- Handle diameter: 33 mm
- Smooth grip
- Flat sides
- Inconsistent quality
- Narrow weight range
Best Adjustable Kettlebell: Bowflex SelectTech 840
If you want a set of kettlebells but don’t have the room for a whole rack of weights, Bowflex’s SelectTech Adjustable Weight ($179) is a great option. This system can go from 8 to 40 pounds with the twist of a dial. Weight options are 8, 12, 20, 25, 35, and 40 pounds. Basically, this system gives you six kettlebells but takes up the space of one.
The weights switch quickly and easily with a turn of the dial. This is great for adjusting for different movements or even dropping the weight a bit for your last set.
The design makes it more fragile. It’s not likely to survive a drop, especially when fully loaded. And the larger size makes it feel awkward in overhead movements or ab movements like Russian Twists.
Overall, it’s a convenient way to store multiple weights in a small space. Just make sure to not drop that bad boy.
- Weight range: 8-40 lbs. in varying increments
- Saves space
- Cheaper alternative to buying multiple kettlebells
- Easy to switch weights
- Weights can rattle in the bell
- Uncomfortable in overhead or one-handed movements
Best for Beginners: Best Choice 3-Piece Kettlebell Set
For beginners, it can be good to start small. The 3-Piece Kettlebell ($60) Set from Best Choice is a solid option for people who are just starting out. This set comes with three kettlebells weighing 5, 10, and 15 pounds, along with a storage rack. These weights work well for newbies who want to dial their form down before they go bigger.
They are also ideal for HIIT classes that require lightweight and high repetitions. The three bells allow you to go heavier as you progress, and the low cost allows you to upgrade without breaking the bank.
These will likely be too light for experienced athletes. But if you’re just starting out, this set is a great option.
- Weight range: 5, 10, 15 lbs. included
- Great for beginners
- Comes with storage rack
- Limited weight set
- Too light for experienced athletes
Best of the Rest
If you want to add some flair to your home workouts, Onnit’s Primate Kettlebells ($85-215) are a great choice. Made with chip-resistance cast iron, these bells are cast with the face of a simian on one side and a smooth, round profile on the other.
The designs vary with the weight, from a Howler monkey for the 18-pounder up to the Bigfoot for the 90-pound kettlebell. The designs are great and add a bit of *aggressive grunt* to your workouts. We have the 72-pound Gorilla in our gym and it’s the one people usually race for when gearing up for a WOD.
Despite the irregular shapes, the kettlebells are perfectly balanced and swing exactly like regular bells. The only gripe we’ve had with these is that the face side tends to smash the forearms during overhead movements like snatches and push presses. You have to pay attention to make sure you have it facing in the right direction during these movements.
If apes aren’t your thing, Onnit also offers Legend bells with mythical creatures and Zombie bells as well.
- Weight range: 18-90 lbs. in 8lb. increments
- Excellent build
- Great design
- Designs can bruise forearms on overhead movements
If you want to protect your floors (and yourself), the Soft Kettlebell with Handle from Bionic Body ($53 – $140) is an option. The leather bag and weighted filling are much softer than traditional metal kettlebells. The large handle fits both hands for swings. It’s smoother than most handles we’ve tried, so there’s a greater risk of slipping. A bit of tape on the handle will solve this without issue.
The softer body is great for working out on hardwood floors, as the bottom won’t scratch it when you set it down or drop it. It’s also much safer for working on tile or concrete floors, since dropping it won’t chip or crack surfaces. Also, the soft body feels great against the forearms on overhead movements.
We’ve seen reports of the delivered weight being off by two or three pounds, and the leather definitely shows wear more than cast iron. But if you want a kettlebell that will keep damage to yourself and your home to a minimum, this is a great bell for you.
- Weight range: 10-40 lbs. in 5lb. increments
- Soft body
- Safe for floors
- Slippery handle
- Weights may vary several pounds
- Not as durable
The Kettle Gryp is a great option if you already have a set of dumbbells lying around. This device clips around the handle of any dumbbell and turns it into a makeshift kettlebell. It’s easy to pack, so it works well for frequent travelers who don’t want to skip their kettlebell training in a hotel gym.
At $35, it adds versatility to a rack of dumbbells. And it basically gives you a full set of kettlebells that take up no additional space.
The handle wraps and secures around the grip of a dumbbell. This adds a kettlebell-style handle to the dumbbell, making it useful for swings, snatches, and other movements. While they’re a great space-saver, it’s good to note that the dumbbell has a wider profile than the body of traditional kettlebells. So you’ll have to adjust your form a bit by twisting the weight or spreading your legs wider during swings.
It also prevents the natural rotation on kettlebell snatches. A round kettlebell rotates around the wrist as you drive it overhead. A dumbbell is too oblong for this, so it’ll have to flip up over your hand and land on your forearm.
- Weight range: 10-40 lbs. in 5lb. increments
- Great for travel
- Good option if you already have dumbbells
- Requires slight changes in form
- You need to already have dumbbells available
Vinyl coating on kettlebells protects floors and reduces noise while you use them. Yes4Alls’ Vinyl Coated Kettlebells ($16-65) ramp up this protection with a rubber base, so you can use them on any flooring without worry.
The bell’s cast iron base is coated with heavy-duty vinyl to keep your floor scratch-free if you knock it over. The rubber base compounds that protection and further minimizes noise during your workout.
The vinyl stops at the handle, which sports a textured profile. This allows for a solid grip with or without chalk, making it ideal for workouts in the house.
- Weight range: 5-50 lbs. in 5lb. increments
- Protective vinyl is safe for floors
- Rubber bottom can break down over time
Buyer’s Guide: Key Features to Consider
Kettlebells come in a wide range of weights. You can find kettlebells from 2.5 to over 200 pounds; choosing the right one for you can be daunting. If your budget can swing it, shoot for a lighter kettlebell for higher rep workouts and a heavy one for strength-based workouts.
“Light” and “heavy” are relative terms, however. The standard prescribed weight in CrossFit is 53 pounds for men and is 35 pounds for women. If you’re new to working out, consider lighter bells. Something in the 15- to 25-pound range should work for most beginners.
As your main point of contact with the kettlebell, the handle is an important consideration. Two things to factor in are grip and hand space. The first thing to look at is the size of the handle. The main movement with kettlebells is the kettlebell swing. This entails gripping the handle with both hands and swinging it from between your legs to eye-level or overhead.
That said, you’re going to need enough room to grab the handle with both hands. Most kettlebell handles are roomy enough for this (all the ones on this list do), but some don’t. Luckily, this is a serious offense in the kettlebell community. So it should be easy to find out in online reviews.
Also, consider the handle’s grip. A smooth grip may feel good initially, but it can get slippery. This is an especially big deal with heavy kettlebells. Consider a pitted or textured handle. These not only provide more grip, but they also retain chalk better for extra friction.
Vinyl Coated vs. Non
The question of vinyl-coated versus non-coated is really a matter of whether or not you plan to use your kettlebell in your home. Vinyl is a potential weak point since it can tear off after vigorous use or drops. If you plan to use your kettlebell in the garage, you’re probably going to be rough with it, so go for a non-coated kettlebell. If you’re using your kettlebell in the house, vinyl is a good choice.
Vinyl coating works well as a protectant for the floor and other surroundings. It also dampens the noise when you set it down. Also, you will likely be treating your kettlebell more gingerly (no tossing it on the ground when you’re done with it). So it’s less likely that you’ll find a way to tear the coating.
Kettlebells can be pricey, especially if you’re looking for a durable or competition bell. The heavier you go, the more expensive they get. Especially when you consider shipping costs. Rogue Fitness’s 200 lb kettlebell costs $250, plus another $250 for shipping.
You can expect to pay just over a dollar a pound for a good kettlebell from a well-known brand. You can go with off-brand cheap kettlebells from a less established brand, but the quality of construction may be compromised.
If you’re tight on funds, check eBay or Facebook Marketplace to see if there are any kettlebells for sale. If it’s in your area, you’ll even save on shipping if you go and pick it up. If you need one now and you don’t have the funds, you can make a DIY kettlebell.
At its most basic, a kettlebell is just a weight with a handle. Even a paint can loaded up with sand or rocks will do. Just make sure you’re not swinging it in front of anything breakable. We wouldn’t trust those handles.
How Heavy Should My Kettlebell Be?
It depends on your level of fitness. The standard weight for men’s workouts in CrossFit is 53 pounds. For women, the standard weight is 35 pounds. If you’re new to kettlebell workouts or fitness in general, go lighter. Somewhere between 15 and 25 pounds should work for most people.
For building strength, shoot for a heavier weight. Strength athletes will regularly use 70- to 100-pound dumbbells. If you’re planning to upgrade to heavier weights, start slow. Get comfortable with the weight with Russian (eye-level) kettlebell swings and ease your way up to going overhead.
Which Is Better: Kettlebells or Dumbbells?
Both are versatile pieces of equipment. They can do many similar movements like goblet squats, snatches, and overhead presses. However, a dumbbell’s shape is ideal for movements like curls and tricep extensions, where a kettlebell’s shape is less ideal for these. A kettlebell, on the other hand, is great for dynamic movements like swings and two-handed movements like upright rows.
What’s a Competition Kettlebell?
Competition kettlebells are most easily recognized by their size. Every competition bell is the same size, regardless of the weight. Also, competition kettlebells are usually made from steel. This makes them more durable than bells made of iron.
How Many Days a Week Should I Do Kettlebells?
Thanks to the wide range of movements kettlebells can handle, you can use kettlebells as often as you’d like. You can do an upper body workout one day, lower the next. Or you can alternate lighter with heavy workouts every other day. There are people who work out exclusively with kettlebells 5-plus days a week, depending on their programming.
Which Muscles Do Kettlebells Work?
Kettlebells are capable of working every muscle in the body. For instance, kettlebell swings work the legs, back, core, forearms, and shoulders. Goblet squats focus primarily on the legs, and kettlebell floor presses work the chest and triceps. Your programming and your imagination are the limits.
Have a favorite kettlebell? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll check it out for future updates to this article.