When I’m at home or traveling, the kettlebell is my go-to. When time, space, or budget is limited, a kettlebell is the only piece of equipment you need for a great workout without compromise.
Whether you choose to train only with kettlebells or just need a way of staying active when you can’t make it to the gym, get yourself a kettlebell or two.
This is a basic buying guide for kettlebell users of all levels. You could get very specific about choosing the kettlebell that is right for you, and unless you plan on competing, these recommendations will work for most people. Skip to recommendations
Most workouts with my clients and myself involve using kettlebells. There are a variety of exercises utilizing kettlebells that allow you to train the entire body, presenting challenges and opportunities to develop strength, power, mobility, and stability with additional demands placed on the cardiovascular system. In some cases, the kettlebell is the most comfortable option compared to holding a dumbbell or barbell. Some exercises are exclusive to the kettlebell, like the kettlebell swing (swinging a dumbbell feels so wrong).
The more kettlebells you get the better, but you can do a lot with one. In fact, you could train effectively for your entire life with just a single kettlebell. Now I’m not endorsing you only train with kettlebells, but you can certainly attain high levels of fitness using only kettlebells. Many people of all ages and varying levels of athleticism do this training exclusively with kettlebells.
There’s a large variety of kettlebells on the market. Cheap kettlebells are likely to chip and become worn faster and will certainly need to be replaced. A good quality kettlebell starts around $30-50 w/ shipping and could last you forever; it’s worth the extra investment. Painted kettlebells will lose their paint if you're banging them around with other kettlebells or tossing them to the ground aggressively. Vinyl Coated is a nice option if you like your equipment to stay looking pretty or prefer the rubber versus iron touch on your skin. If you have hardwood floors I recommend vinyl coated; painted kettlebells mark the floors.
Standard vs. Competition Kettlebells
Kettlebells come in a standard size (most common in stores and gyms) or a larger, not heavier, competition size. Competition kettlebells all have the same diameter, regardless of weight. The larger handles also offer more space for the hands. For some, the larger surface area makes it easier to support in the rack position (on the body). Beginners may find that it hurts less when it slams into the wrist because it has less distance to travel before it hits (when done right, it’s not supposed to hurt, but it takes some practice).
I prefer the competition size, however, my female clients prefer the standard size. Although I recommend the competition size, it’s really a personal preference.
What weight should you get?
Probably the biggest question you have is, what weight should you get?
*Note: Kilograms is the standard unit for many kettlebells (I'm skeptical of the quality if they're not in kilograms). Converting Kilograms to Pounds: 1kg = 2.2lbs (ie. 16kg = 35lbs).
Three kettlebells are ideal. Get one light, medium, and heavy kettlebell. If you only get one, go for a medium-sized kettlebell because that will allow you to train bigger movements for both the upper and lower body.
- Level 1: Light Strength/Rehab - Light 4kg (9lb) | Medium 8kg (18lb) | Heavy 16kg (35lb) = Est. $155 plus tax and shipping
- Level 2: Average to Moderate Strength - Light 6kg (13lb) | Medium 12kg (26lb) | Heavy 24kg (53lb) = Est. $195 plus tax and shipping
- Level 3: Above Average Strength - Light 8kg (18lb) | Medium 16kg (35lb) | Heavy 32kg (70lb)= Est. $245 plus tax and shipping
For the Enthusiast (Kettlebell Roadmap)
If you plan on building up a collection, this roadmap is the weights I suggest and the order to buy them. This will allow you to do the most effective and largest variety of exercises to achieve optimal results.
Most Men & Some Women
- 12kg (26lb) or 16kg (35lb for stronger men)
- pair of 6kg (13lb) to
- 24kg (53lb)
- another 24kg (53lb)
- 32kg (70lb)
Most Women & Rehab Training
- 8kg (18lb) or 12kg (26lb for stronger women)
- pair of 4kg (9 lb)
- 16kg (35lb)
- another 12kg (26lb) or 16kg (35lb)
- 24kg (53lb)
- 32kg (70lb)
- another 32kg (70lb)
- If you like kettlebells at this point, get more.
Note: These suggested weights are based on my experience with my clients, however, because each individual has different needs, feel free to contact me for recommendations specific to you.
My Favorite Kettlebells
- Perform Better First Place Competition Kettlebells
- Rogue Fitness Kettlebells
- Perform Better First Place Neoprene Kettlebells (Has a softer coating that makes it a little more comfortable) or Rogue Fitness Rubber Coated Kettlebells
- Perform Better First Place Gravity Kettlebells (If you have a smaller frame or like smaller kettlebells)
Any of the above are great choices. It may only come down to which one looks better to you.
- Onnit Kettlebells (If you want something with extra personality)
- Kettlebells on Amazon or a local sporting goods store (Budget-friendly)
If you’re considering another brand of kettlebell or have any questions or comments about these brands, feel free to contact me.
Note: I don’t feature anything on my site I haven’t researched, used, or own myself. I may receive a commission for some of the products I recommend. I’m always open to suggestions too, so please send me any recommendations of your own.