The Last Kettlebell Buying Guide You May Ever Need

By Don

May 16, 2023


Reading Time: 13 minutes

A Kettlebell Buying Guide: An Overview


While they may seem like a fringe exercise modality, kettlebells have increased in popularity over the last several years due to their versatility in just about any space, from the most basic home gym to the most decorated commercial gym. 

And for the home gym user, they are the ultimate minimalist home gym training tool. However, they can add up quickly in cost. I made several purchase mistakes at the beginning of my own kettlebell training that have cost me both time and money. 

I’ve also read several other online kettlebell buying guides. Some are great, but others are cluttered with whirring ads, they require you to squint through sensory overload, and they provide no direction or resources on what you actually do once you buy a kettlebell. 

So, hopefully, this kettlebell buying guide can save you both money and time in the long run, while giving you the information and direction you need to spend more time learning how to use that cannonball with a handle.


What are the Different Types of Kettlebells? 


There are two main kinds of kettlebells: cast iron and competition. I’ve listed the pro’s and con’s of both, and then some thoughts on the “other” category (plastic, adjustable, etc…).  

Cast Iron

Cast iron kettlebells are popular, and quality ones will last you a long time. High-quality cast iron bells will be single cast and made from non-scrap metal. There are a lot of different types of coating for cast iron kettlebells, including vinyl, epoxy, or powder coating.

I enjoy and recommend the powder coating kettlebell, as it holds chalk better and has a smooth but not oily feel, which helps with gripping and maneuvering. 


  • High-quality cast-iron kettlebells will last for a long time. 
  • Cast iron kettlebells are generally more affordable then competition style kettlebells. 
  • There are a lot of different coating options (I prefer the powder coat, as it provides a better and more natural feel for your hands). 


  • Cast iron kettlebells’ coating tends to chip easier. 
  • Cheaper cast iron kettlebells will have metallic bumps, ridges, an uneven base that wobbles, etc… 


Competition Style

There is an official kettlebell sport, and in this sport, competition style bells are used. They are made from steel and are another popular purchase option. 


  • All competition kettlebells at all weights are the same size. This can be helpful when you are learning movements since the size stays the same as you increase weight.
  • The base of the competition bell is bigger, which makes movements like renegade kettlebell rows or push-ups on top of your kettlebells easier.
  • Using steel eliminates the concern of rusting. 


  • Price. These tend to be one of the more expensive kettlebell options you can purchase. 


Others: Plastic, Adjustable, etc…

This is where a kettlebell buying guide can help you save time and money. If you are interested in training with kettlebells, I would suggest you start with a cast iron or competition kettlebell and avoid plastic or adjustable kettlebells. 

Plastic kettlebells are cheaper, but cheaper can come at the cost of quality. I personally do not enjoy the sharp ridges around the plastic kettlebells, and the cast iron or competition kettlebell will feel a lot better on your hands and forearms. 

With adjustable kettlebells, you will need to watch out for clanging or rattling when you move them. And inevitably, at some point in your kettlebell training, you will drop your kettlebell, and it will need to be able to withstand impact to the ground. So, if you go with the adjustable option, be sure to find one that is high quality and won’t break on impact. 


What Should I Look for When Buying a Kettlebell? 


Finding a quality kettlebell brand is the surest way to ensure that you are buying a quality kettlebell. The company behind your kettlebell purchase is making all of the decisions that go into creating a quality product, and it’s important to find one you can trust.

In the next section of the kettlebell buying guide, I’ll share some thoughts on what to look for in a brand, but for now here are some criteria that can help guide you toward a quality kettlebell: 


1. Make

For cast iron and competition kettlebells, a quality kettlebell will be made of iron or steel (not scrap metal), and it will use single casting (not multiple casts with a weld). A quality make ensures durability so that you can get a longer life and use out of your kettlebell. 

Kettlebells are an expensive purchase. You might spend anywhere from $3 to $8 per kilogram for a kettlebell, so you want to purchase one that will last you not just months, but years. Putting your dollars into a product that is of higher quality will save you money in the long run.


2. Feel

With feel, this primarily has to do with how the kettlebell horn feels in your hands and how the sides of the kettlebell feel on the backside of your wrist and forearm. 

For your hands, you’ll want a smooth horn with sides and curves that don’t have sharp edges or sharp metallic bumps.  When you are doing your 83rd kettlebell swing in a row, the feel of the kettlebell horn becomes kind of important, and you’ll want a horn that won’t slice into your hands. 

For the backside of your wrist and forearm, you’ll want a kettlebell that has well-rounded sides. Kettlebells generally have their branding and weight stamp on the side, and when you do snatches, presses, or get-ups, that means the back of your wrist and forearm will be rubbing against that branding and weight stamp. The rounder the kettlebell, the better it will feel on your wrist and forearm during those movements. 


What Should I Look for in a Kettlebell Brand? 


Here are my three “must haves” and my two “nice-to-haves” when evaluating a kettlebell brand. 


“Must haves”:
1. Do they have kettlebell weights from light (4kg) to heavy (32kg+)?

Find a brand that offers weights that you can grow with. Once you get used to a brand’s feel and you want to start going heavy, it can be challenging to adjust to another brand’s bell at a heavier weight. 


2. Are they committed to product quality?

Are all the cast iron bells they make single cast? Are they all made from scrap metal or the good stuff? Do they offer guarantees or warranties? Price tends to communicate quality, so what do their prices communicate? And, the best way to diagnose quality… 


3. Do they have positive product reviews?

This goes without saying, but product reviews tend to reflect how well a company serves its customers, and public product reviews are a way for the consumer to monitor that.


1. Do they sell competition style kettlebells?

A brand that understands kettlebells and its users will know its core customer base might have an interest in competing in kettlebell sport.


2. Does the brand offer some type of coaching or training program? 

Offering a coaching or training program tells me that a brand knows its products well enough and cares about its customers to the point that the company wants them to enjoy its products safely and effectively. 


Based on these criteria, the brand I recommend and personally enjoy using is Kettlebell Kings

Started in 2012, Kettlebell Kings is U.S. based business (Texas y’all) and is a provider of high-quality kettlebells, training programs, and accessories. 


Here are just a few of the other brands out there: 

  • Rogue: Started in 2006, Rogue is a manufacturer of strength and conditioning equipment, including barbells, power racks, sleds, kettlebells, and accessories.
  • Onnit: Started in 2010, Onnit is a unique company, providing both supplements and what they call “unconventional tools”, such as the kettlebell, club, steel club, steel mace, battle ropes, and more. Founded in 2010, this is a fitness business that does far more than just sell equipment.
  • Lifeline Fitness: Started in 1973, Lifeline Fitness has provided professional-grade products for body weight, progressive variable resistance, functional fitness, athletic training, recovery, and yoga. 


What Size Kettlebell Should I Start With?


This depends on skill level, experience, strength, etc… But here are some general recommendations. 

  • For most men, I’d recommend starting with a 16kg kettlebell (adjust to 12kg if you are completely new to exercise).
  • For most women, I’d recommend starting with a 12kg kettlebell (adjust to 8kg if you are completely new to exercise). 

The most important thing when starting kettlebell training is to learn the form and mechanics of each movement. I’d encourage you to forego starting heavy so that you can practice proficiency with the mechanics of each movement first, and then progress to heavier weights when you are ready. Also, seek advice from your doctor or physician before starting an exercise program, especially if you have pre-existing conditions. 


What Weight Increment Should I Purchase Next?


The answer to this question has more to do with your training goals and regimen than anything else. The general rule of thumb is to increase your weight by either 4kg or 8kg increments. 

This is where I made my biggest purchasing mistake… I started purchasing lighter kettlebells in 4kg increments without having a clearly defined training plan or goal. So hopefully the next section in the kettlebell buying guide will help you save both time and money in the long run. 


How do I get Started with Kettlebell Training? 


While this is a kettlebell buying guide and not a kettlebell training guide, before you start purchasing kettlebells you need to identify your goals and plans on how you want to use them. Again, not having a clear plan at the beginning of my kettlebell training was my biggest mistake that cost me both time and money. 

Kettlebells are celebrated for their versatility, for good reason. They can help you achieve any fitness goal. Do you want to lose weight? Kettlebells can help. Do you want to build muscle? Yes, kettlebells can help. Do you want to focus on longevity and function? Kettlebells can help. Do you want to strengthen your cardiovascular system? Kettlebells can help. 

If I had to do it all over again, I would have made my first kettlebell training goal to develop technique and strength with kettlebell swings and kettlebell Turkish get-ups.

Here’s why and how. 


Why swings and get-ups? 

Swings are a ballistic movement that builds posterior chain strength and mobility, strengthens your aerobic system, and shreds your core. Get-ups are a slow grind that strengthens every muscle in your body, teaches you balance, and forces you to focus on your breathing while you exercise.

In other words, you get a complete, full-body workout with just these two movements. This not only simplifies your training but also simplifies your kettlebell purchase decision.

With this training goal, you can start with just a few kettlebells. Here are the weight recommendations:

  • For guys, you will need 3 kettlebells in 8kg increments to get started. This will be would one 16kg kettlebell, one 24kg kettlebell, and one 32kg kettlebell. 
  • For women, you will need 4 kettlebells in 4kg increments to get started. This will be one 12kg kettlebell, one 16kg kettlebell, one 20kg kettlebell, and one 24kg kettlebell. 


Is there a program out there that focuses on swings and get-ups?

Absolutely. Pavel Tsatsouline wrote his Simple and Sinister Program, which uses these two movements, and will keep you busy for months! The training time only takes 20-30 minutes per day, at about 4-6 sessions per week. The goal of this program is to help you complete:

  • Simple Standard: With a 32kg kettlebell, complete 100 1-hand swings in 5 minutes, and 10 get-ups in 10 minutes.
  • Sinister Standard: With a 48kg kettlebell, complete 100 1-hand swings in 5 minutes, and 10 get-ups in 10 minutes. 

If you want to learn more about this program, you can also read my post on it called the minimalist exercise routine that works


Just two exercises? That sounds boring… 

At first, I thought that too. 

What changed my mind is when I tried to do one kettlebell get-up with a 32kg bell… the challenge of just one heavy get-up convinced me that this was not an easy program. 

Also, it’s not as boring as having a newly purchased kettlebell sitting idle for months without use because you don’t have a plan. That untouched kettlebell is most definitely bored. 


A Kettlebell Buying Guide: Equipment Recommendations


After my own research, experience, etc…, here are the 3 brands of kettlebells I use regularly, and they all sit happily used in my garage. I also recommend having hand chalk and mats for kettlebell training. 

The Quality Purchase: Kettlebell Kings (Powder Coat)

Kettlebell Kings is a U.S.-based business (Texas y’all) that sells premium kettlebells, and their powder coat kettlebells are my recommended quality purchase. This is a premium buy in terms of make, feel, and durability. I have two 24kg, one 32kg, and one 48kg Kettlebell Kings’ bells in my garage. 


  • The kettlebell is made from a single piece of cast iron.
  • The handle is wide and deep, which makes your hands feel less cramped on two-hand kettlebell swings
  • The powder coating holds chalk better than alternative finishes and feels great for your grip.
  • They have all the sizes you could want, starting at 4kg and ending at 92kg.
  • The weight-stamped side of the kettlebell is not deeply indented, which provides a better feel on your wrist when you are doing snatches, presses, get-ups, etc…


  • This is a pricier brand, but you are paying for quality.
  • Oftentimes their heavier bells (40kg+) are out of stock, so be sure to purchase them when they are on the shelves!


The Budget Purchase: Lifeline Kettlebell (Powder Coat)

Lifeline was the very first kettlebell I purchased. After reading through dozens of reviews and comparing prices across several brands, I bought my first kettlebell with Lifeline. For a lower-priced kettlebell, it does the job and I’ve overall been satisfied with it. I have all sizes in 4kg increments from 8kg to 24kg. 


  • This is a more affordable purchase. For beginners who want to buy one kettlebell to see if they like kettlebell training, you might want to consider starting with a Lifeline bell. 
  • The kettlebell is also made from a single piece of cast iron.
  • The handle is wide and deep, which makes your hands feel less cramped on two-hand kettlebell swings
  • The powder coating holds chalk better than alternative finishes and feels great for your grip.  
  • The weight-stamped side of the kettlebell is not deeply indented, which provides a better feel on your wrist when you are doing snatches, presses, get-ups, etc…


  • The powder coating is not as durable as the powder coating on the Kettlebell Kings brand. I had a 24kg Lifeline bell that started prematurely chipping and rusting after only having it for a few months. 
  • The size selection is not as comprehensive as Kettlebell Kings, and the heaviest bell they make is 44kg. 


The In-Between Purchase: Rogue Kettlebell (Powder Coat)

a simple kettlebell buying guide

Lastly, if you are looking for an in-between, I’d recommend buying the Rogue Kettlebell. This is another quality buy in terms of feel, make, and durability. I have one 40kg Rogue Kettlebell in my garage. 


  • The kettlebell is made from a single piece of cast iron.
  • The powder coating holds chalk better than alternative finishes.
  • They also have a wide range of sizes, but they are advertised in pounds. They also go from 9 lbs (4kg) to 206 lbs (92kg).
  • The weight-stamped side of the kettlebell is also not deeply indented, which provides a better feel on your wrist when you are doing snatches, presses, get-ups, etc…


  • The handle is not as wide or deep as Kettlebell Kings, which makes your hands feel a little more cramped on two-hand kettlebell swings.
  • The powder coating feels great on your hands but is just a bit rougher than the smoother finish of Kettlebell Kings powder coating.


Hand Chalk: Primo Chalk – Refillable Chalk Ball

Hand chalk ensures that your hands can still grip and maneuver the bell when wet with sweat. I didn’t think I needed chalk until I started doing one-hand kettlebell swings with a heavier bell in the summer. Once I felt the sensation of the kettlebell almost leaving my hands due to the sweat… I quickly ordered this chalk.


  • This chalk comes in a reusable chalk bag that you can refill once depleted.
  • This product also comes with a sealed plastic bag that you can store your chalk bag in.
  • I’ve been using this same chalk bag for several months and have not yet had to buy a refill.


  • The Ziploc-like seal on the plastic bag does not fully seal now after several months. This is not a deal breaker for me (I hardly care), but just something to be aware of.


The Floor Mat: ProsourceFit Exercise Puzzle Mat

Kettlebells are metallic and heavy, and they can damage your flooring on impact, which is why I strongly recommend you purchase a mat to use while slinging bells. Also, if you do kettlebell get-ups you will want a more comfortable surface under your elbows and back. There are so many exercise mat options out there, but these mats are almost identical to the ones that sit in my garage.


  • You can cover a lot of surface area in your garage with these mats for a reasonable price. 
  • I’ve been able to train both barefoot and with shoes on these mats.
  • A quick sweep before and after your workout can help extend the life of these mats. 
  • My kids really like playing on these mats when I’m not using them. 


  • On hot summer days during a sweaty workout, my bare feet start to slip and slide a bit while training. 
  • Sometimes the puzzle seams fall slightly out of alignment through impact, so I’ve had to recalibrate the alignment several times. 


A Kettlebell Buying Guide: Instruction, Training, and Program Resources


The most important thing at the beginning of kettlebell training is to learn proper form, and technique and build base strength in the primary kettlebell movements. Here are some resources that can help you.


Layman’s Fitness Hub – Instructional Videos & Programs

The LF Hub is an exercise movement resource library for kettlebell and bodyweight training. There are 15 posts describing each of the primary kettlebell movements, along with detailed instructions, a video, and application ideas. All you need to do is click the “Kettlebell Exercises” tab and start learning! 


You can also click the “Programs” tab on the LF Hub or click on these links to the LF 4-Week Kettlebell program and the LF 8-Week Home Gym Strength program, both of which feature the kettlebell. 


Pavel Tsatsouline – Simple & Sinister

I’ve already recommended this program, but I can’t recommend it enough. This program really delivers. It just requires two movements (the kettlebell swing and the get-up), each workout takes 20-30 minutes, and it’s a patient but diligent path to building strength. 


Pavel Tsatsouline – Enter the Kettlebell!

This was the very first book I purchased by Pavel Tsatsouline, who is often credited as popularizing the kettlebell in the U.S. He provides a lot of great movement instructions and theory in this book, along with a program you can follow. 


A Kettlebell Buying Guide: Conclusion


I hope this kettlebell buying guide has been helpful in distilling and introducing you to some of your purchasing options as a kettlebell consumer. The kettlebell is a phenomenal training tool, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


Note – some of these links are affiliate links, and as an Amazon Associate I do earn on qualifying purchases. 

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