Home / Complete Guide to Buying the Best Kettlebells and 7 Kettlebell Types to Avoid

Complete Guide to Buying the Best Kettlebells and 7 Kettlebell Types to Avoid

By Greg Brookes
Complete Guide to Buying Kettlebells with 7 Kettlebell Types to Avoid

I frequently get asked about what kettlebell to buy and also which size kettlebell weight to buy too.

Update April 2024: We are currently recommending these kettlebells available on Amazon.com

Below I’m going to address the different types of kettlebells, what to look for when buying kettlebells, what kettlebell weights you need, and finally some of the brands of the best kettlebells that I recommend.

OK, lets get started…


The Different Types of Kettlebells You Can Buy

With the explosion of kettlebell training over the last 10 years, there are now many shapes and sizes available to buy.

A kettlebell’s design allows its centre of mass to extend beyond the hand. This facilitates full-body ballistic movements, similar to movements found in the snatch and clean and jerk in weightlifting. Common kettlebell exercises involve swings, lifts, and presses, but unlike weightlifting or powerlifting, kettlebell training can be performed bilaterally and unilaterally in all planes.” (Manocchia et al. 2013)

Let’s take a look at what’s available on Amazon.com right now:

As you can see there are a number of different types of kettlebells that you can choose from:

  • Vinyl Coated Kettlebells
  • Adjustable Kettlebells
  • Cast Iron Kettlebells
  • Kettlebells with a Gorilla Face
  • and more…

You can, in theory, use any of these kettlebells for a few of the basic kettlebell exercises.

For example, the following exercises would be OK with any of these kettlebell choices:

The reason these kettlebell exercises would be OK with any of these kettlebell choices is that they involve the simplest of movements that don’t require too much interaction with the kettlebell itself.

The Single Arm Deadlift exercise can be performed with any type of kettlebell:

Kettlebell Single Arm Deadlift
Kettlebell Single Arm Deadlift

One of the most important kettlebell exercises is the kettlebell swing.

Providing the handle is not vinyl and/or has a bad finish that cuts up the hands then many of these kettlebells would be suitable for just the kettlebell swing.

So if you intend to just swing the kettlebell and perform the 3 other kettlebell exercises above then most kettlebells will do the job.

However, if you intend to develop and perform a lot more of the 50+ kettlebell exercises available then I recommend you are more careful with your kettlebell buying decision.


The 2 Best Types of Kettlebells You Should Buy

If you are going to take your kettlebell training a little more seriously then you need to choose a kettlebell that will not damage your wrists, forearms,  or cut up your hands.

There are 2 basic kettlebell types to choose from:

Competition Kettlebells

As you can see from the competition kettlebell image above, the handle is much smaller and is square in design.

Competition kettlebells are designed to by used with just one hand and the size and shape stays the same size regardless of the weight.

The advantage of these types of kettlebells is that your hand doesn’t slide around due to the limited space, plus you can get used to the size even when the weight changes.

The main disadvantage is that they can only be used with one hand, so the all important two handed swing is out and so are the valuable goblet squats, halos, and many other beginner based exercises.

If you teach kettlebell classes, as I do, then these types of kettlebells just don’t work in most situations.

Cast Iron Kettlebells

The cast iron kettlebell is produced from one solid piece of metal so unlike the competition kettlebell the size will increase with the weight.

You will notice that the handle is wider enabling you to use two hands if necessary so all those double handed exercises are now possible.

If you are a beginner then the cast iron kettlebell is much more diverse in its usage

Making the Choice between Competition Kettlebells and Cast Iron Kettlebells

The choice should be quite easy for you now.

As a beginner the competition kettlebells don’t allow for two handed exercises which makes learning the very basics difficult, therefore the cast iron kettlebells would be the better choice.

However, if you have mastered all the two handed exercises and want to take your kettlebell training to the next level and even enter some competitions then the competition kettlebells are for you.

If you choose to go for the cast iron kettlebells, then there are still a few more things that you need to know before you buy.

Here’s a quick video telling you what to look for when buying your kettlebell:


7 Things to Avoid When Buying the Best Kettlebells

Here are a few of my top tips on what to look for when you’re buying or upgrading your kettlebell.

1. Super Thick Kettlebell Handles

The first thing is the handle. Make sure you don’t buy a kettlebell with a handle that’s too thick.

If you can’t wrap your fingers all the way around the kettlebell handle, then the handle’s probably going to be a bit too thick for you.

A kettlebell with a handle that is too thick is going to quickly tire out your forearms and finishing repetitions of an exercise can be very tough.

2. Narrow Kettlebell Handle Width

Next, can you fit both hands through the kettlebell handle?  Some kettlebells, like the competition ones, are only wide enough for one hand.

If you’re going to be performing a lot of two handed kettlebell exercises, which I recommend for beginners, then you’re going to need a kettlebell where you can get both hands through the handle.

3. Kettlebells with Feet or Bases

best to avoid kettlebells with feet
Best to avoid kettlebells with feet like this

The bottom of the kettlebell should have a natural flat but it shouldn’t have an attached rubber or plastic base.

Bases can be good for preventing marks on your floor, but unfortunately, they’re going to really dig into your arm and into your body when you’re using the kettlebell.

So if the kettlebell has a round rubber or plastic foot on it, I would certainly avoid that type of kettlebell.

4. Sharp Kettlebell Handle

The fourth thing is to make sure that there are no sharp edges on the kettlebell handle.

Look out for kettlebells that have sharp bits of paint, and also check where the handle meets the body so that there are no small nicks that can cut into your hands.

If you have got an existing kettlebell with sharp edges, then you can sometimes sand them down with sandpaper.

5. Completely Round Kettlebell Body

The next thing is the body of the kettlebell. Make sure it’s not too round.

If it’s round, like a ball, then when you’re in the racked position it’s going to really dig into your forearm the same problem will apply to the top position of the overhead press or kettlebell snatch too.

So you want a slightly oval kettlebell body and a handle that smoothly moulds into the body of the kettlebell.

Avoid a kettlebell that’s a round ball with a big, sharp handle stuck on the top

There should be a nice smooth bit of continuity with the kettlebell from the body into the handle.

6. Narrow Kettlebell Handle Spacing

Next, check the spacing between the handle and the kettlebell’s body.

Can you get your fist into this space?

If the handle spacing is too small you’re going to find it really digs into your wrists when in the racked position or overhead.

If it’s too big, then the kettlebell will lie too far down on the arm and it’s going to dig into your forearm.

7. Vinyl or Plastic Coated Kettlebell Handles

vinyl kettlebells are not the best choice
Vinyl-coated kettlebells are not the best choice.

It seems to be trendy to coat kettlebells in vinyl or plastic to avoid marking the floor, etc.

Unfortunately coated kettlebells can get very slippy as your hands sweat plus they have really annoying seams where they have been coated that damage the hands.

Also, plastic handles never seem to be very round and tend to have an oval handle, which causes problems as it rotates through the hand.


What Size Kettlebell Weights to Buy

best kettlebell starting weights

The best kettlebells traditionally come in the following weights:

  • 8kg (17lbs)
  • 12kg (26lbs)
  • 16kg (35lbs)
  • 24kg (53lbs)
  • 32kg (70lbs)

However, due to the huge rise in popularity there are now many weight sizes in-between the ones listed above.

I’ve been teaching kettlebells for almost 15 years now and I can safely say that I’ve never had to use any kettlebell sizes other than those listed above except for a 20kg and 28kg kettlebell.

The great news is that if you make the right purchase, you will only need to buy a few of the best kettlebells, and they will last you for a lifetime.

Kettlebell Weights for Women: What You Need

Here are the 3 kettlebell weight sizes that I recommend all women should buy:

  • 8kg (17lbs) – perfect starting weight, great for learning the basic movements and later turkish get ups
  • 12kg (26lbs) – used for the two-handed swing to begin with and then later many other exercises
  • 16kg (35lbs) – perfect progression for the two-handed swing when more advanced to complement the 12kg

With these 3 kettlebell weights, there is nothing more a lady should ever need for her kettlebell training.

If you feel that 8kg is too heavy for a starting weight, then you need to understand the type of exercises you will be performing.

Watch this video to see why women should begin with the 8kg kettlebell:

Kettlebell Weights for Men: What You Need

Here are the 3 kettlebell weights that I recommend for men to buy:

  • 12kg (26lbs) – perfect for beginners with no weight lifting experience, great for beginner Turkish get ups
  • 16kg (35lbs) – starting weight and great for swings and most single-handed exercises
  • 24kg (53lbs) – great progression for the two-handed swing and later other single-handed exercises

At a later date more experienced kettlebell practitioners may work on overhead presses with the 32kg plus may need to bridge the gap between the 16kg and 24kg with a 20kg for single handed exercises.

Want more? What kettlebell weights to use for the different kettlebell exercises


Where to Buy Kettlebell Weights

I’ve tried and used a lot of kettlebells in my time teaching kettlebell classes and training clients.

I have to say that I’ve learnt the hard way and bought lots of kettlebells that turned out to be completely useless.

Here are one brand that I have consistently used over the past few years without any problems, they are very reasonably priced and available on Amazon.com in the USA:

Update April 2024: We are currently recommending these kettlebells available on Amazon.com

For those based in the UK, head on over to Wolverson Fitness and check out their black series of kettlebells.


Conclusion to Buying Kettlebells

If you are new to kettlebell training and only want to perform a few simple exercises then almost any kettlebell will do.

However, if you want to get the most out of kettlebell training and perform slightly more advanced kettlebell exercises then you are going to  need to choose a good quality kettlebell.

Cast Iron kettlebells are the most diverse and excellent for beginners and almost anyone not interested in going in to competition.

If you are more advanced and want to focus on purely single handed exercises then the competition kettlebell may be for you.

I’ve also outlined above what size kettlebell women should use and also the recommend starting weights for men too.

Buying the right kettlebell is an important decision if you are serious about your kettlebell training.

Get the best kettlebells now and they will last you a lifetime and enhance your exercise experience.

Enjoy your kettlebell training!

[ I’ve included some links above that are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission will not affect the original price or the price you pay. ]

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    1. Kim Avatar
      Kim

      I bought one kettlebell and you verified I do, in fact, have the proper one. I am building my strength and it absolutely feels great! Amazing teacher, you are.

    2. John Avatar
      John

      Hi Greg, I always appreciate your insights. I’ve been increasing double kettlebell work. I currently use two 35 lbs kettlebells, but I feel I need to increase weights. I use cast iron kettlebells now. Do you have any experience with the adjustable competition kettlebells (12kg to 32kg)? If so, what are your thoughts of those verse buying cast iron sets at several weights?

      Thanks in advance.

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Hello John, no I’ve not used adjustable competition kettlebells but the issue will always be the design and how they sit against the arms / wrist in the racked position.

    3. Lili Avatar
      Lili

      IS there a big difference if a woman start with a 20lb/9Kg rather than the 8kg. Is there something particular about the kettlebell being 8kg rather than 9kg?

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        No that is fine Lili, the 8kg just tends to be a more standard available weight.

    4. Katie Avatar
      Katie

      Greg. Is there a physical test to do with a ketttlebell that will tell you it’s too heavy, too light or when to increase your ketttlebell weight? Thanks.

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        It will tend to vary depending on the exercise Katie, but generally women will start with an 8kg or 12kg and progress to a 16kg for two handed swings.

    5. Carol Avatar
      Carol

      Hi Greg, really enjoyed reading this, I’m a 60 1/2 yr old lady who wants to start kettlebell training. I’m having trouble finding an 8kg wolverston or rep k/bell as all out of stock. What other brand could you recommend, I’m so keen to start. Thank you for the informative blog

    6. Sasha Zill Avatar
      Sasha Zill

      Great post Greg thank you. I’m trying to determine if I should purchase a second kettle bell to enable me to vary my work outs a bit. I own a 20kg that I do swings (single and double), squats, lunges and some two hand exercises with. I’m actually thinking a lighter bell so I can try turkish get ups and other exercises to vary the routine, can you recommend a weight to with? Thanks

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        How about a 16kg Sasha?

        1. Sasha Zill Avatar
          Sasha Zill

          Thanks Greg I was debating between 16kg and 12kg, hoping to just purchase one that gives me the best versatility for different exercises.

    7. Dan Avatar
      Dan

      Dear Greg,

      Thank you for the article. I’m from Lebanon and surely by now you are aware of the disaster that happened in my country, so the problem is that everything is limited at the time being, even ordering stuff online.
      The point is that i have two iron cast 16KG Kettlebells and i always wanted to buy a (Steel) 20KG Kettlebell Kings brand for single handed workouts.
      So do you recommend this brand, in case i’ve found a way to order one?

      Thank you!
      Dan

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        I’m familiar with the kettlebell kings brand but I’ve never tried their steel brand. The material isn’t really what matters it’s the design and shape that matters more.

    8. Anil Kumar Kapoor Avatar
      Anil Kumar Kapoor

      That is an amazing article on Kettlebells. You seem to be an encyclopedia of Kettlebells. Thank you for posting such details.

    9. David Morrison Avatar
      David Morrison

      Hi Greg. That was very informative but I’m just confused about one thing. You were saying about oval rather than round so is it better to have flat sections front and back? I’ve looked at the Wolverson Black series and they seem to be completely round, whereas the Rep Fitness ones have a small flat surface on one side with the weight stamped on it. Others like the Original Kettlebells GB have flat surfaces on both sides. Can you clarify which is best? I won’t be using it for snatches but I will be doing swings, presses, windmill, TGUs etc. Thanks

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Yes David the sides of the kettlebell should not bulge out and be completely round or they dig into the forearm and wrist. The black series are a good kettlebell.

    10. Basil Byrne Avatar
      Basil Byrne

      I’m an rower/oarsman so naturally very strong on pulling exercises and can easily handle a 32KG kettlebell for swings and deadlifts, but I am less strong on pressing exercises. I do use dumbells as well, but what sort of exercises and kettlebell weights would help with my pressing/pushing strength? Turkish getups look good, but that is one exercise.

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Take a look at the push movement pattern here Basil: https://kettlebellsworkouts.com/pushing-movements/

    11. Boks Dela Paz Avatar
      Boks Dela Paz

      Should I buy them in pairs?

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        No need for pairs until you have mastered a single kettlebell Boks.

    12. Marcus Rudolph Avatar
      Marcus Rudolph

      Hi Greg,

      any sugesstions for buying good kettlebells in Germany? Looks like REP don’t ship to Europe (or shipping will cost a fortune). What’s about Rogue Kettlebells? Do you have any experience with these? The look is very similar to REP (also the whole website)…
      Do you know these? => https://www.sport-tiedje.de/taurus-studio-kettlebell-pro-10-kg-12-kg-16-kg-tf-db2184-10kg

      Thanks and best regrads,
      Marcus

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Yes Marcus the handle spacing on those kettlebells looks ok from the images but I have not used them so I cannot recommend them.

    13. Alvaro Avatar
      Alvaro

      Hello!
      I just bought a Kettlebell, I bought the one with the monkey face 36LB, is it a good one or did I make a bad decision?

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        It will be OK for swinging and deadlifts but cleans etc. may cause your wrist some problems although I have not used those kettlebells.

    14. Val Avatar
      Val

      Just got your first email and looked at the article on what size kettlebell to use. I’m completely dumbfounded that you would say “there is nothing more a lady should ever need for her kettlebell training” than a 16 kg kb. I use a 24 kg for single-hand swings, so go heavier for two-handed swings. I have regularly used a 20 kg for Turkish get-ups, and have managed a few with a 24 kg. I also use the 20 for single-leg deadlifts. I’m a 67-year-pld woman. I think you’re selling you female clients short.

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Yes Val, some ladies can lift a lot more especially on the larger lifts using the hips and legs but they are in the minority in my experience.

    15. Richard Pearce Avatar
      Richard Pearce

      This is really useful. Thanks Greg (and contributors!). Trying to decide on what kettlebell to buy is a lot more complicated than I imagined. But reading your clear and informative review, and other people’s comments, has really helped. One conclusion I have arrived at is that, as is often the case, buying cheaper versions may be a false economy. Getting the best you can afford at the time will give you a lifetime of use, whereas scrimping at the outset may actually cost more in the long run! Looking forward to my kettlebell exercises. Once again, many thanks.

    16. Dan Avatar
      Dan

      This is very helpful! Thank you! I see as of September 2019 that you recommend REP Fitness Kettlebells. I have read that REP Fitness kettlebells are identical to Kettlebell Kings produced in the same factory. The only difference is the stamped logo. Do you know if this is true? I have found several comparisons online that also state the two kettlebells are identical in look and feel. Kettlebell Kings seem to be the top kettlebell in every comparison review I find, but REP Fitness kettlebells are slightly less expensive.

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        I’m not sure about that one Dan, I also used to use the CAP kettlebells on Amazon a lot too but haven’t bought any for a while so cannot confirm the quality.

    17. Heidi Avatar
      Heidi

      I bought a Wolverson set a year ago as I got into kettlebells at my gym. Female average height and weight. Purchased 10,12,16 and 20kg (for dead lifts). I purchased two 8kg from sports direct for Turkish getup and windmill ( triangle) etc, also just walk round with them in the air! Wonderful for balance and warmup! I mostly use 12kg for alternate arm swing and find I can get to 80% heart rate nicely for a good cardio session with this weight. Loving the look of your workout plans and look forward to doing them. I also run 5k most days and cycle (stationary) 10k each day as a warm up.

      1. Richard Pearce Avatar
        Richard Pearce

        Hi Heidi. Interested to hear your comments re Wolverson. You’ve clearly got on with them. Had come across the brand in my searches and am leaning towards them. Do you feel the kettlebell workouts have impacted upon your running? (I also run, and am looking to the kettlebells for strength training etc). Thanks. PS: Like the 5k per day routine!!

    18. David R. Calvert Avatar
      David R. Calvert

      Hi Greg

      What is your take on the adjustable kettlebell from power block. Do you think the shape and handle would interfere with most of the kettlebell exercises?

      Thanks

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Yes David, the adjustable kettlebell may OK for Swings but other than that it will be painful on the forearms and wrists when in the racked position.

    19. B Avatar
      B

      Hi Greg, thanks for posting all of this helpful information about kettlebells. I’ve been shopping online for CAP cast iron kettlebells and it seems they only come in increments of 5 lbs. (ie., 10, 15, 20, etc. on Amazon in the US). For my first kettlebell (I’m female) what would you recommend, 15 lbs or 20 lbs since I can’t get the 8kg/17 lb. size? I’m not in the habit of using weights but I’m active and athletic – I rock climb and play roller derby. I weigh about 105 lbs. and am 5’2″.

      Thanks!
      B

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Hi B, I’d go for 2 kettlebells, the 15lbs and 25lb. You will be able to use them both for lots of different exercises. The 25lbs will be especially good for single arm deadlifts and two handed swings, once you have mastered the movement.

    20. vanessa walters Avatar
      vanessa walters

      I have a 20#, 26# and a 35# kettlebell set..and a 13# kettlebell..I CAN use the 20# for slingshots, single deadlifts, and modified (I don’t do down far)..goblet squats..The 20# is just too heavy for now, for me to do halos, or good mornings..and I ordered and got another 13#..I thought my 13# was a 10#, but now I own 2 13# bells. When I get better at this, I want to use the pair of 13# bells for double work. I am taking even these beginner workouts very carefully; I’m doing less instead of more. At 66, I think this is wise??!!

    21. Mr Richard Barnes Avatar
      Mr Richard Barnes

      Hi Greg

      Discovered your site and YouTube channel while researching purchasing a KB to get started. V keen on buying a Wolverson 12kg as UK based but they’re out of stock until July. Would a 14kg be ok or is there another brand you would recommend?

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Hi Richard, I’ve used a lot of kettlebell brands in the USA but only really found the Wolverson ones in the UK to be up to scratch. I’m sure there are others out there but without trying them myself I’d be reluctant to recommend them. Depending on your level the 14kg may work for you but you may find it too heavy for halos and slingshots etc. but I’m sure it will be OK for single arm deadlifts and two handed swings.

    22. Craig Avatar
      Craig

      If choosing cast iron Kettlebells I don’t think you can beat Dragon Door or Rogue Kettlebells. Great design, finish and build, will last for years. I use both and have no complaints.

    23. Ellie Avatar
      Ellie

      Hi Greg,

      I have just signed up for your Kettlewell workouts and I am excited to get started straight away. One question though – I brought a couple of kb from tk max but I have noticed they seem a lot lighter than the ones I use in the gym. I brought a 12 and a 10 but they feel more like a 6 and a 8. Is this poss with liquid kb??

      Thanks

      Ellie

    24. Tara McAdoo Avatar
      Tara McAdoo

      I found the CAP kettleball at TJ Maxx or 12.99.

    25. Karen Avatar
      Karen

      Hi there. Are you able to tell me the brand of kettlebell you recommend in your video about what to look for when purchasing kettlebells. I can’t see it anywhere on your website. Many thanks, Karen

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Well there are lots of great brands out there Karen but the ones that are very reasonable and available online are by CAP. You can see them on Amazon by clicking the links above.

    26. Karen Avatar
      Karen

      Love your workouts btw -very informative & really clear instructions

    27. Karen Avatar
      Karen

      Hi ya- just starting out on your beg programme & watching your videos in one you say not to get KB with a vinyl coating-but no explanation to why not?
      Was just about to purchase a set of 3 KB (8 12 & 16 kg) which are cast iron with vinyl coating & now I’m having 2nd thoughts! If you could tell me why they are no good would be v.grateful – thanx in advance

      1. Greg Brookes Avatar

        Karen, vinyl kettlebells usually have strange proportions, the handles are too big and don’t sit well in the racked position resulting in bruised arms and wrists. Also when you sweat the vinyl can get very slippy. If you just want the kettlebell for swings or holding by the horns and performing squats then I’m sure they are OK. However, without seeing the vinyl kettlebells it’s very hard for me to say, maybe the quality has improved over the last year.

        1. Karen Avatar
          Karen

          Thanx for getting back to me- they are actually vinyl coated cast iron- but you’ve now put me right off them!!