How to Choose the Right Kettlebell for Your Home Gym

Kettlebells are some of the best pieces of home gym equipment that you can purchase.

However, with the number of options available, finding the right one for your budget, ability, and goals is not easy.

Fear not, we have put this guide together to help you make an informed choice

What Are the Different Types of Kettlebells?

Before you can successfully choose the best kettlebell for you, there will be some prerequisite knowledge that you must learn. And on this list, one of the most important pieces of information is the different types of kettlebells you may encounter. 

Generally, there are two main distinctions — the “Russian” kettlebells manufactured with cast iron and “Competition” kettlebells made from steel.

rogue cast iron kettlebell
“Russian” Cast Iron Kettlebells
How to Choose the Right Kettlebell for Your Home Gym 1
Competition Kettlebells

There are a couple of differences between these two types.

However, the main one would be that Russian kettlebells become bigger as you progress towards higher weights. Conversely, competition kettlebells will always be the exact same size; however, they are color-coded so that you can know which one weighs more. 

So, you’re probably wondering — which one of these should you buy for your home gym?

Well, in terms of home fitness, practically any one of the two will do just fine.

The main thing that cast iron kettlebells have going for them is that they cost quite a lot less; on the other hand, competition kettlebells have a more consistent size.

With the latter, you get the chance to focus less on technique and more on your own strength because the movements that you make stay constant instead of forcing you to accommodate a wide range of sizes. 

Furthermore, as competition kettlebells are made from steel they are slightly more durable. However, the difference is not significant.

Finally, there’s also a kind of hybrid kettlebell that you may buy; they’re sometimes called “fitness competition kettlebells.”

These are kettlebells with a consistent size across their entire weight range — but they don’t adhere to the other stringent requirements for competitions since they’re not often used professionally. As a result, you get the consistent size of competition kettlebells while paying a lower price!

Finally, for those short on space or looking for a portable option we recommend considering an adjustable kettlebell.


What Are the Standard Kettlebell Sizes?

How to Choose the Right Kettlebell for Your Home Gym 2

When you start wondering how to choose the best kettlebell for you — one factor will stand out in particular. And that’s the size and weight of the kettlebell.

After all, if you’re buying this product for your home gym, you’ll want to know just how much space this piece of exercise equipment will take up. 

If you’re not someone who’s already been buying gym equipment — there’s a chance that you’re not aware of the size range of kettlebells that are available to you.

Naturally, some specifics pertain to individual manufacturers; however, the weight range between the minimum and the maximum weight is largely universal. 

Generally speaking, your kettlebells are likely to weigh something in the range of 5 lbs to 80 lbs.

Naturally, this is a vast range — one that you’re not likely to cross with just a couple of kettlebells. As such — you need to be sure that the kettlebells that you’re buying are well suited for your current fitness levels. 

So, how do you judge this correctly?

What Weight Kettlebell to Buy?

To answer this question, you need to assess your fitness level.

Everyone is different, but the general recommendations are as follows:

Fitness LevelMenWomen
Beginner12kg / 26 lbs8kg / 18 lbs
Intermediate16kg / 35 lbs12kg / 26 lbs
Advanced20kg / 44 lbs or higher16kg / 35 lbs or higher

Typically, for most beginners, a range of 12-16kg for men and 8-12kg for women is recommended. Bear in mind that you will progress quite quickly so if possible go for the heaviest weight you can use safely.

If you’re more advanced, go for 16kg and 20kg (or higher) for women and men respectively.


Kettlebell Buying Considerations

How to Choose the Right Kettlebell for Your Home Gym 3

Apart from the general factors that we’ve outlined above — there are plenty of other buying considerations that you should keep in mind while choosing the best kettlebell for yourself.

After all, many of these will depend on your manufacturer of choice and their build quality — so let’s dive right into the details!

Handle

When you start looking at the individual parts of the kettlebells you’re thinking about buying, the handles are some of the most important parts you should think about.

The last thing you want is to have kettlebells with overly thick handles. 

This will inevitably mean that you can’t comfortably hold the kettlebells in the palm of your hand, which is a big problem if you’re supposed to focus on technique and utilizing your strength to the maximum. And even if you manage to do it at first — the strain will wear down your forearms. 

It’s best to look for a careful middle ground. Realistically, you don’t want the kettlebells to have narrow handles either. This might mean that you cannot fit two hands through one handle — and that’s something that quite a few exercises dictate.

As a result, you’ll be severely limiting yourself in terms of workout versatility using one kettlebell. Plus, beginners tend to do more two-handed workouts than other people, so you don’t want to miss out on that possibility when you buy your kettlebells. 

Finally, there’s another part of your kettlebell’s handles that you need to think about — and that’s how sharp or coarse it is. The kettlebell’s edges have to strike that balance between sharp and smooth — if it’s too much in favor of the former, it may cut you, while the latter will prove to be slippery. 

Construction

Of course, once you pick the kettlebells with the best handles and the appropriate weight that suits you, there are a few other things to think about. You need to know how well the kettlebells were manufactured. After all, this will significantly affect their level of durability. 

As we’ve already talked about, kettlebells are almost always cast iron or steel — though there are some niche exceptions, such as sandbag kettlebells.

The steel models are generally considered more durable — though cast iron doesn’t break apart easily either. However, as a handy rule of thumb — cast iron kettlebells tend to be more affordable within the same weight range. 

Coating

Now, you should also know that (apart from sandbags) you will encounter other kinds of kettlebells on the market — like those made with vinyl or plastic. While there are probably manufacturers who make excellent kettlebells of this kind, you should take care while choosing one of them, as we generally don’t recommend it. 

They are usually more affordable than those made out of iron or steel — and there’s a good reason for that.

In many cases, these kettlebells are shaped more oddly than you’d like — or their handles are of lesser quality. Don’t let positive online reviews mislead you — any serious training will require more professional kettlebells.

That’s mainly because cheap plastic kettlebells don’t have the perfectly even weight distribution that comes with iron and steel. 


What Kettlebell Brand Is Best?

This is a very subjective question but the following kettlebell manufacturers all have very strong reputations:


Kettlebell FAQs

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How Many Kettlebells Should I buy?

One of the questions we hear about kettlebells most often is — should I opt for one or two kettlebells?

One kettlebell is obviously better than none. As you get stronger, you can add variations so you won’t outgrow it.

But if your budget can stretch enough, we would recommend getting two kettlebells of different weights.

And here is why – use one for single-hand exercises and a heavier one for two-hand exercises.

The latter should be at least 8kg (17 lbs) heavier for maximum benefit.

Are Kettlebells Better Than Dumbbells?

Dumbbells and kettlebells are both excellent. If you had your pick, you’d get both!

But that’s not the world we live in. Sometimes, we have to make hard choices, and dumbbells are often the best choice for newer trainees or those with classical strength or bodybuilding goals. Kettlebells are a bit more niche and offer great functional and conditional benefits in a single implement.

Adjustable is the smart choice for dumbbells, with the cost of a full rack reaching into the thousands. Kettlebells are compact, easy to store and reward, putting in the effort on unique and challenging movements.

The important thing is to get what fits your goals – both for your training and your space – and to make sure you understand the limitations of that choice.

For more information, check out our Dumbbells vs. Kettlebells guide.

Are Kettlebell Exercises Good for Beginners?

Yes, kettlebells are an excellent tool for beginners.

They are easy to use, inexpensive, and can be used at home. If you’re not familiar with the movements, start with a lightweight. Once you’ve developed good movement patterns, you can increase the load. 

Are Kettlebell Exercises Good for Weight Loss?

Yes, kettlebell exercises are really effective for weight loss because they don’t isolate individual muscle groups. You’re getting more bang for your buck with full-body exercises. 

Are Kettlebell Exercises Good for Building Strength?

Yes, to build strength, you need to train with resistance. Since kettlebells are weighted, they’re an excellent piece of equipment to have in your training arsenal.


Best Kettlebell Exercises

kettlebell swings

Kettlebell Swings 

The swing is the king of all kettlebell exercises.

It’s the one we all know and love. Kettlebell swings develop strength and power in your glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, core, shoulders, and back.

They also help improve your posture – perfect for those who sit at a desk all day. 

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and knees slightly bent.
  2. Grip the top of the kettlebell in both hands.
  3. Let the kettlebell hang in front of your hips. This is your starting position.
  4. Pull your shoulder blades back and down while squeezing your core.
  5. Send your hips back and lean your torso forward while the kettlebell passes between your legs.
  6. Drive your hips forward and use the momentum to raise the kettlebell to eye level.
  7. Let the kettlebell drop and use gravity to go into your next repetition. 

Kettlebell Thrusters 

Thruster?

The thruster is a combination of the squat and overhead press. But, instead of being two separate movements, they’re both performed in one fluid motion.

Thrusters are great for building strength and endurance in the quads, glutes, core, and shoulders. They also jack up your heart rate real fast. 

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold one kettlebell in each hand and rest them on your shoulders in the front rack position.
  3. Pull your shoulder blades back and down while squeezing your core and glutes.
  4. Send your hips back, then bend the knees to come into a squat position. Your hips should fall below your knees.
  5. Drive through your midfoot and push your hips forward to extend your legs.
  6. During the ascent, use the momentum to push the kettlebells overhead.
  7. Pause for a second before lowering the kettlebells while going back into the squat position for your next repetition. 

Kettlebell Farmer’s Carry 

Farmer’s carries are like the gym version of carrying your groceries in from the car.

They look pretty straightforward, but they will blow up your forearms and spike your heart rate.

Not only are they great for your forearms, but also your neck, backs, shoulders, core, glutes, and quads. 

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Perform a half squat to pick the kettlebells off the floor (don’t hunch over and pull your back picking them up).
  3. Turn your palms to face your hips, then pull your shoulder blades back and down while squeezing your core and glutes.
  4. Walk across the room while keeping your spine as elongated as possible. 

Kettlebell Overhead Lunge 

kettlebell exercises overhead lunge

The kettlebell overhead lunge is an amazing exercise for building strength, balance, and stability.

Since this exercise utilizes single-limb training, it can help eliminate any muscular imbalances. The main focus of the kettlebell overhead lunge is the quads, glutes, hamstring, hip flexors, shoulders, traps, and core. 

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Grip the kettlebell in your left hand and bring it up to your left shoulder in the front rack position.
  3. Dip at the knees to drive the kettlebell overhead. This is your starting position.
  4. Lunge forward with your right leg, then lower your hips until your right leg reaches a 90-degree position.
  5. Push through your right midfoot to return to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. 

Kettlebell Snatch 

The snatch is one of two Olympic lifts.

It might look a bit scary, but it’s actually an incredibly useful exercise. The kettlebell snatch helps develop full-body endurance, power, and strength.

It specifically targets the shoulders, triceps, glutes, hamstrings, erectors, and back.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Grip the kettlebell in your right hand and let it hang in front of your hips. This is your starting position.
  3. Pull your shoulder blades back and down while squeezing your core.
  4. Send your hips back and lean your torso forward while the kettlebell passes between your legs.
  5. Drive your hips forward and pull the kettlebell up to your shoulders. In the same swift movement, turn the kettlebell over and extend your arm overhead.
  6. Let the kettlebell drop and use gravity to go into your next repetition.
  7. Repeat on the opposite side.

Kettlebell Clean and Jerk 

The clean and jerk is the other Olympic lift.

Just like the snatch, the clean and jerk develop strength, endurance, and power. Unlike the snatch, it is two separate movements, which means you can use heavier weights. 

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Grip the kettlebell in your right hand and let it hang in front of your hips. This is your starting position.
  3. Pull your shoulder blades back and down while squeezing your core.
  4. Send your hips back and lean your torso forward while the kettlebell passes between your legs.
  5. Drive your hips forward and pull the kettlebell up to your shoulders.
  6. Rest the kettlebell in the front rack position briefly before performing the jerk.
  7. Dip the knees, then drive the kettlebell overhead.
  8. Let the kettlebell drop and use gravity to go into your next repetition.
  9. Repeat on the opposite side.

Kettlebell Single Leg Deadlift to Row

The kettlebell single leg deadlift to row builds strength and stability in your hamstrings, core, back, and biceps.

It’s a great stabilizer exercise to build strong and healthy shoulder and knee joints. 

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Grip the kettlebell in your right hand.
  3. Let the kettlebell hang in front of your hips. This is your starting position.
  4. Pull your shoulder blades back and down while squeezing your core.
  5. Bend the knees slightly, then lift your right foot off the floor.
  6. Keeping your back straight, lean your torso forward until your right leg is parallel to the floor.
  7. Pull the elbow to your rib, then reverse the movement back to the starting position.
  8. Repeat on the opposite side. 

Wrapping Up

Even a complete beginner may see the myriad benefits provided by kettlebells in your home. After all, not only do they allow you to perform an incredible range of exercises; you can do all of that without going to a gym, or taking up huge amounts of space with lofty exercise machines in your home.

As long as you think long and hard about the factors that go into a high-quality kettlebell, we’re sure that you’ll make the proper choice!

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