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Kettlebells can be a useful alternative to traditional hand weights. They are typically dome-shaped, with a single handle, and made of iron, and they can help with a variety of strength and cardio exercises.

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This article describes what to look for in kettlebells and their potential health benefits. It also lists some workouts to try and some kettlebells that a person might consider.

Regular physical activity is crucial for health. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend 150–300 minutes of moderate or 75–150 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise each week. They also recommend muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.

Research from 2019 notes that kettlebells can support cardio fitness and muscular strength, and that they are more affordable than many other strength training devices.

People often use kettlebells for exercises that involve swinging or pushing, as well as circuit training activities. Research from 2020 confirms that using kettlebells can help build muscles, specifically those in the lower back.

Some research-backed benefits of training with kettlebells include:

  • enhancing strength
  • enhancing cardiovascular fitness
  • improving endurance

Many types of kettlebells are available. Below are some options suitable for use at home.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and was correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

SPRI Kettlebells

Best for color coding

SPRI Kettlebells
  • Weight range: 5–50 pounds (lb).
  • Single or double kettlebell: Single.
  • Pro: Each weight is color-coded, which might help a person make sure that they use the right weight for different exercises.
  • Con: The handle may be too narrow for use with two hands.
  • Price range: Around $24–60.

SPRI Kettlebells have flat fronts and backs so that they lie in a stable way.

The bell portion has color-coded vinyl coating to indicate its weight. For example, a yellow kettlebell is 5 lb, while a 20-lb kettlebell is teal.

Rogue Kettlebells

Best for an easy grip

Rogue Kettlebells.
  • Weight range: 13–88 lb.
  • Single or double kettlebell: Single.
  • Pro: A powder-coated finish to enhance grip.
  • Con: Some customers find that the finish is inconsistent, leading to rough edges.
  • Price range: $30–145.

Rogue Kettlebells are available in a powder coated or matte finish. The coating aims to provide a texture for easy grip, and it may help limit chipping and scratches.

These kettlebells come in 11-lb increments, with weights ranging from 13–88 lb.

Onnit Primal Kettlebells

Best for a heavier weight

Onnit Primal Kettlebells.
  • Weight range: 18–90 lb.
  • Single or double kettlebell: Single.
  • Pro: Customers note a high-quality finish, and that the weight “sinks into” the hand.
  • Con: Some report that the ears on the design interfere with workouts.
  • Price range: $42 to $214.95.

The designs of Onnit Primal Kettlebells differ based on their weights: a 36-lb chimpanzee, a 54-lb orangutan, and a 90-lb Bigfoot, the company’s largest option.

These chip-resistant iron kettlebells also feature enlarged handles.

Tribe WOD Thor Kettlebells

Best for a more challenging workout

Tribe WOD Thor Kettlebells
  • Weight range: 15–70 lb.
  • Single or double kettlebell: Single.
  • Pro: This may be more suitable for people looking to strength train with offset weights.
  • Con: Some found that the finish wore off quickly.
  • Price range: $84.99 to $199.99.

A slight variation on the traditional kettlebell, this cast iron Tribe WOD Thor product is shaped like a mallet, with a rectangular iron bottom and a straight handle.

TRX Rubber Coated Kettlebells

Best for a lighter weight

TRX Rubber Coated Kettlebells.
  • Weight range: 8.8 to 61.7 lb.
  • Single or double kettlebell: Single.
  • Pro: The rubber handles may provide a more secure grip.
  • Con: Some customers found the finishing to be low quality.
  • Price range: $39.95 to $149.95.

The surface of these TRX Rubber Coated Kettlebells was designed to be easy to grip and clean. They also feature color coding by weight and powder-coated handles.

Amazon Basics Cast Iron Kettlebell Weights

Best for a more affordable kettlebell

Amazon Basics Cast Iron Kettlebell Weights.
  • Weight range: 10–60 lb.
  • Single or double kettlebell: Single.
  • Pro: This product has a wide handle, and people can use it with two hands.
  • Con: Some customers found that the coating chipped easily.
  • Price: $21–62.

Amazon Basics Cast Iron Kettlebell Weights have a painted, anti-corrosive surface.

The kettlebells’ wide handles allow for a one- or two-handed grip.

Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Kettlebell Weights

Best for an adjustable kettlebell

Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Kettlebell Weights.
  • Weight range: 8–40 lb.
  • Single or double kettlebell: Single.
  • Pro: This is adjustable, so a person does not need to purchase other kettlebells of different weights.
  • Con: Some customers found that the handle had little grip, making it slippery.
  • Price: Starting from $149.

A person can change the weight of the Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Kettlebell from 8 lb up to 40 lb. This eliminates the need to purchase different kettlebell sets.

Each kettlebell has a dial at the top that allows a person change the weight quickly.

The following table shows how the kettlebells compare, based on various features.

Price rangeWeight rangeWeight material
SPRI Kettlebells$24–605–50 lbvinyl coated
Rogue Kettlebells$30–14513–88 lbpowder coated
Onnit Primal Kettlebell$42 to $214.9518–90 lbchip-resistant iron
Tribe WOD Thor Kettlebell$84.99 to $199.9915–70 lbcast iron
TRX Rubber Coated Kettlebells$39.95 to $149.958.8 to 61.7 lbiron and rubber
Amazon Basics Cast Iron Kettlebell Weights$21–6210–60 lbcast iron
Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Kettlebell Weightsstarts from $1498–40 lbnone stated

Weight, handle shape, and overall design as some factors to consider before making a purchase.

Handles

According to one 2017 article, smaller kettlebells with rounded handles may be better for people with smaller builds.

Anyone doing exercises that involve holding a kettlebell with two hands — such as the swing, deadlift, or press — might need a kettlebell with an extra wide handle.

Weight

Kettlebells come in a variety of weights, of up to 100 lb. Using equipment that is too heavy can lead to injury, while using equipment that is too light may lead to insufficient results.

Generally, a kettlebell should be of a weight that allows a person to do about 10–12 repetitions in a set.

However, some exercise programs involve lifting very heavy weights with fewer repetitions. Overall, the right weight depends on a person’s goals and routine.

Variations

Some kettlebells have adjustable weights. These often have small, stacking plates that a person can add or remove.

Although the up-front cost may be higher, opting for an adjustable kettlebell may prevent the need to buy heavier ones over time.

Other kettlebells are shaped or color coded by weight. These variations do not usually limit effectiveness.

Using equipment correctly reduces the risk of injuries, such as sprains or strains.

When using a kettlebell, make sure the feet are planted firmly, with the body’s weight on the heels. When lifting a kettlebell, make sure the back is straight, and lift with the legs.

Never lift a kettlebell directly over the head, as dropping the equipment can cause significant injury.

Below are some common exercises that involve kettlebells.

Squats

People can do a few different types of squat using kettlebells. For example, a goblet squat involves holding the base of the kettlebell with both hands at chest height.

To perform a goblet squat:

  1. Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart. Bend at the hips and knees while pushing the hips back.
  2. Try to keep the chest up, the back straight, and the elbows forward while lowering into the squat position.
  3. Keeping the weight on the heels, drive the hips forward and return to the standing position.
  4. Repeat this 10–12 times per set.

Deadlifts

This exercise can strengthen the legs, hips, buttocks, core, and back.

To perform a deadlift:

  1. Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebell with both hands in front of the body. Keep the arms straight.
  2. Bend at the knees to lower the kettlebell toward the ground, between the legs.
  3. Stop when the buttocks align with the knees, then return to standing.
  4. Repeat this 10–12 times per set.

Swing

This requires a person to maintain close control of the weight, which can increase the cardiovascular demands of the exercise.

To perform a swing exercise:

  1. Place the kettlebell on the ground, within arm’s reach.
  2. Squat, pick up the kettlebell, and swing it back between the legs.
  3. Once the kettlebell starts to swing forward, extend the hips and knees. With the arms extended, allow the kettlebell to rise to chest height.
  4. Lower the kettlebell and squat down again, allowing the weight to swing between the legs.
  5. Repeat this 10–12 times per set.

Press

A clean and press exercise focuses on the shoulders, arms, and upper back. “Clean” is another word for “swing.”

To perform it:

  1. Stand with the feet hip-width apart. Grip the kettlebell in one hand.
  2. Do a movement similar to the swing, but as the kettlebell is in front of the body, in a smooth motion, quickly pull it to the chest, drop the elbow toward the rib cage, and rest the kettlebell on the shoulder of the hand holding the kettlebell.
  3. From this position, push the kettlebell up toward the ceiling while straightening the arm. Return the kettlebell to the shoulder, then let it drop down back into the swing position.
  4. Continue into the next rep or place the kettlebell on the ground and begin from a stationary position.
  5. Aim to repeat this for roughly 10–12 reps.

A slightly different version is the military press. This involves not doing the swing motion, but instead performing the shoulder press movement with a kettlebell in each hand.

Various types of equipment can help strengthen the muscles against resistance, including:

  • free weights
  • exercise machines
  • resistance bands

The choice may involve preferences, exercise type, cost, and available space for storage and use. A person may prefer kettlebells or free weights to exercise machines or circuit training.

Below are answers to some common questions about kettlebells.

Are kettlebells effective, and can I get a full body workout?

Kettlebells, like any type of fitness equipment, are effective if a person uses them correctly.

Kettlebells can enhance strength, improve cardio fitness, and improve endurance. People can use this equipment in a variety of exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, and presses.

Exercising regularly, such as three or four times a week, with weights may help a person see results sooner. However, a healthcare professional can provide individual guidance.

How heavy should my kettlebell be?

A person should choose a kettlebell weight that is comfortable for them to use.

If a person is just starting to use this equipment, they may wish to purchase a kettlebell that has a lower weight to reduce the risk of injury.

People who find lower weights are not giving them the workout they require may wish to increase the weight of their kettlebell.

Can I use kettlebells for cardio and weight training?

A 2019 article suggests that kettlebells can improve a person’s cardio fitness.

When a person exercises, their heart-rate increases, which leads to better cardiovascular health. Using kettlebells in exercises that increase heart-rate, such as deadlifts and swings, can supplement a person’s cardio training.

Kettlebells may provide an easy and versatile at-home training option, as people can use them to perform both cardio and strength exercises.

People should choose kettlebells that best fit their goals, space, and budget.

Also, people should always maintain good form when performing any exercise. This helps maximize results and prevent injury.