The 5 best kettlebells of 2021 for your home gym, including adjustable, soft-sided, and budget picks

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Kettlebells help optimize workouts as they combine strength work with cardio and flexibility training.
  • Beginners should pick their weight carefully and learn proper form to minimize the risk of injury.
  • Our top pick, the Everlast Vinyl Dipped Kettlebells, is affordable and has an injury-preventative outer material.

Editor’s note: Due to fluctuating stock, many of the picks may be out of stock, back-ordered, or low in stock. We will keep this updated as best we can.

If you’re looking to outfit your home gym on a budget or with minimal gear, we’d argue that the single most versatile piece of equipment you could consider is a kettlebell. The odd, bell-shaped weights may look intimidating to someone who has never swung one before – and learning how to use one should definitely be taken seriously.

But the piece of equipment is actually really easy to get the hang of, and the odd shape of a kettlebell allows for a more dynamic range of movement than you get with a traditional dumbbell. Thus, kettlebells are used not only for strength training but also for cardio work, flexibility and balance training, and to target multiple muscle groups at once. Kettlebells are incredibly diverse, but they also open the door for challenging moves you can’t otherwise do – like a kettlebell swing – and add another layer of challenge to tried-and-true exercises like goblet squats.

Kettlebells have a lot of advantages and they almost always level up the fun of a workout. But they shouldn’t be treated as toys which is why it’s important to learn proper form for every move. At the end of this guide, I’ve also included answers to a few FAQs to better help you understand the kind of kettlebells you should shop for and how much weight to look for.

Whether your fitness goal is to build muscle strength, improve your cardiorespiratory fitness, or continue to challenge your body in new and exciting ways, one single bell can help you achieve any of these.

Here are the best kettlebells:

The best kettlebell overall

everlast kettlebell

Everlast’s Vinyl Dipped Kettlebells are coated with a thick, colorful layer of vinyl which makes them safer to use and allows for quick identification of each weight.

Pros: Protective vinyl coating, easy-to-use color coding for different weights, decent price point

Cons: Maximum weight too low for some athletes

It only takes smashing a cast-iron kettlebell into the side of your knee one time to help you understand that features like a softer vinyl coating is really nice to have on your kettlebell.

“I’ve used Everlast kettlebells for years,” Cincotta told Insider. “When the bell itself is coated like this, as opposed to metal-based, you’re able to do much more with the bell without accidentally tearing up your body.”

If you’re buying more than one, it’s nice that the Everlast’s Vinyl Dipped Kettlebells have bright colorings to mark different weights, so you’re at less risk of grabbing the wrong weight for a given exercise. The kettlebells are also available in increments between five and 35 pounds. 

Whether used for suitcase squats, lunges, presses, or core training, these are reliable kettlebells from a company with more than 110 years of history in the fitness gear arena.

The best kettlebell for interval training

TRX kettlebell

TRX Training Kettlebells have lightly textured handles that allow for a secure grip and easy transitions, ideal for use during high-intensity exercise.

Pros: Textured handles for secure grip; multiple weights offered; broad, flat base adds stability

Cons: Expensive

If you’re a fan of HIIT exercise (high-intensity interval training), you’ll love these kettlebells that are perfectly suited to fast, highly specific motions. Their textured grips ensure you keep a steady grasp even when you’re sweaty, moving fast, and rapidly switching between various different exercises.

TRX offers kettlebells from four kilograms (8.8 pounds) all the way up to 40 kg (88 pounds) with moderate increases between each option. That means you can choose the exact amount of weight to suit your body for any given exercise. (Find out more in how to choose the right weight kettlebell.)

These bells also have a broader, more flat base compared to competitors. That extra flattened surface area makes these kettlebells more stable when you set them down fast, like during HIIT workouts.

One significant drawback is the price, however — these aren’t cheap.

The best adjustable kettlebell

bowflex kettle bell w

With the Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell, you get six kettlebells in one, which is ultimately one of the best values around.

Pros: Six weights in one, affordable compared to buying all six weights, easy to adjust

Cons: Expensive up front; handle is less ergonomic than others; bulky, especially for use at lighter weight

Yes, $149 is a lot to pay for a kettlebell. But with the Bowflex SelectTech 840, you’re actually getting six kettlebells in one, which turns this into quite the deal.

The 840 gets its name from its lowest and highest weights, which are eight pounds and 40 pounds, respectively. In between those low and high options, you get 12-, 20-, 25-, and 35-pound increments, a good spread for people of varying strength and for a single person’s use at varied exercises.

Switching between weights is quick and easy, too. You simply turn a dial and lift up on the handle, and the extra weight is left sitting there on the ground. Beyond the ease of use during active exercise, you’ll also appreciate what is effectively six kettlebells only occupying the space of one. 

The benefits of this design are clear, but there are a few drawbacks — the largest of which is that kettlebell is less ergonomic than a standard option. The handle is slimmer and doesn’t have the flared shape of most kettlebells, and the overall unit is larger than solid options, which might make some exercises harder to execute properly.

With a few reps, you should get used to the shape, though, and the value far outweighs the cons.

The best budget kettlebell

amazonbasics kettlebell

AmazonBasics Vinyl Kettlebell has many features of other brands like a gentler vinyl coating and range of weight choices, but you’ll pay a few bucks less.

Pros: Great price point, good spread of weight increments, colorful, vinyl coatings

Cons: Grips often have minor imperfections

There’s plenty of positive things to say about the kettlebells from AmazonBasics. They’re coated in a thick vinyl that protects your skin and helps minimize the chance of scuffing the floor or scratching a piece of furniture; they come in a wide range of weights, starting at 10 pounds and reaching all the way up to 60, with 11 increments along the way; and their colorful coatings make it easy to tell one weight from another.

That description fits just about any decent set of kettlebells. What sets these apart from the pack is that they cost on average 15% less than its competitors — and you can use your free Prime shipping for delivery.

For that reduced price, you can expect a slight reduction in quality. Many of the kettlebells sold under the AmazonBasics banner have minor imperfections in the handles such as irregular bumps or little holes. 

These flaws shouldn’t be deal-breakers unless you have sensitive hands, for which you can also work out with gloves on.

The best soft-sided kettlebell

Bionic Body kettlebell

The Bionic Body Soft Kettlebell is plenty heavy but soft-to-the-touch, so you won’t break a toe or crack a tile if you accidentally drop one.

Pros: Safer for flooring and injury, decent price point for a unique product

Cons: Leather exterior damages more easily than standard kettlebell

If you work out often enough, at some point you are going to have an accident. Dropping weights is a fact of life, and it’s why gyms have padded floors. If you’re working out on the hardwood or tile floors of your own home, that dropped weight might lead to an unexpected and unpleasant home repair project — or, potentially, an ER trip to fix a broken toe.

Working out with a soft-sided kettlebell solves this. Bionic Body’s Soft Kettlebells come in a decent range of weights, spanning 10 to 35 pounds, and they’re durable and solid-feeling in your hands.

There’s no sacrifice of function in the name of making them soft-sided, and you won’t even pay that much more for these kettlebells than you would for standard iron or vinyl-coated weights. 

The leather wraps around the weights won’t chafe or irritate your skin, so these kettlebells make for more comfort. But with them being leather, the exterior can get scuffed and torn in a way a solid kettlebell can’t, so you do need to treat these with a bit more care than with other options.

What else we considered

kettlegrip

Many brands offer their own version of the kettlebell incredibly similar to one another, so there’s little reason to look much beyond the list we put together. There are, however, a few specialty options and accessories worth your consideration:

Meister MMA Elite Portable Sand Kettlebell ($13): This option is made from rugged PVC that can be filled with sand to create a functional kettlebell. Empty, the sack packs down flat for easy storage or travel. Filled and with the neoprene handle wrapped into place, this portable kettlebell lets you knock out snatches, standing rows, and more anywhere you go — so long as you can find sand. And for under $15, you can’t beat it.

Kettle Gryp ($35): The Kettle Gryp is a one-pound plastic grip that affixes to any dumbbell with a grip wider than 4.5 inches and converts dumbbells into kettlebells. So that stack of free weights you have there in your garage? Every one of those could be used just like a kettlebell.

Yes4All Adjustable Kettlebell Handle $34: If you have weight plates in your home (the disc weights with holes for mounting them on bars, e.g.) then a Yes4All Adjustable Kettlebell Handle can create an ad hoc kettlebell of myriad weight combinations.

How to correct your form

Before you start swinging your new kettlebells around wildly, make sure you take some time to learn how to properly execute the exercises for which they are so helpful when used correctly.

“When you’re using kettlebells, safety is the first thing,” R.J. Cincotta, director of fitness with Orangetheory Fitness Long Island, told Insider. “Many people just start swinging them around and don’t focus on form. There’s such a dynamic difference using them [compared to other weights] that you really need to learn form, first. And you don’t want to go too heavy too quickly; that’s a very easy way to get injured.”

With that advice in mind, we tested a variety of kettlebells from brands like Everlast, TRX, and Bowflex to find the best currently available. So, no matter if you’re just looking for a set to round out your home gym or want to kick your weekly fitness routine up a few notches, there’s a set of kettlebells perfect for you. 

FAQs

What weight of kettlebell should I buy? 

The problem with buying a single piece of strength equipment like a set of dumbbells or a kettlebell is that different moves call for different resistance amounts. One of the main selling points of a kettlebell is that it’s such a diverse piece of equipment, but to really maximize its use, you want to choose the single weight that will deliver the most bang for your buck.

When thinking about what weight will be most useful, it’s better to go a little heavier, San Diego-based trainer Pete McCall, CSCS, host of the All About Fitness podcast, told Insider. “Kettlebells are often used for exercises like swings and goblet squats, and for these lower body movements, heavier is better,” he says.

What’s more a heavier kettlebell actually forces you to use better form and technique. “Going too light could lead to “cheating” during the lift which, in turn, could result in injury,” he said. (We know — it’s the rare instance the injury risk is in going too light instead of too heavy).

If you’re going light, McCall also advises looking for a competition-style kettlebell. “With traditional kettlebells, as the weight gets lighter, the handle gets smaller,” he explained.

But competition-style bells have more room between the bell and the handle, which can be a lot easier to grip, especially for those not used to the equipment.


What kind of workouts can you use a kettlebell for?

R.J. Cincotta provided some professional perspective on the importance of kettlebells, and although most Orangetheory gyms don’t use kettlebells, he was able to speak to Insider based on his own extensive fitness experience. 

“Kettlebells are best used for power movements,” Cincotta said. “You’re going to use them for squats and swings, and you’ll use them for a lot of single-sided exercises often referred to as asymmetrical movements. You can even use kettlebells for stability work as well.”

What makes a kettlebell harder to use than a dumbbell lies in its shape, which puts the weight several inches away from your hand. This means you’ll need to activate more of your muscles as you stabilize the weight. With a kettlebell, every single-handed exercise like curls, shoulder presses, snatches, and so on is that much more productive.

And for two-handed exercises like goblet squats, the grip shape means added stability so you can focus on your form, as well as your core, glutes, quads, and other muscles.


Is there a significant injury risk with buying a kettlebell that’s too heavy?

The answer to this is both yes and no. Using a heavier kettlebell will lead to more results because you’ll have to work harder to move it and therefore use more muscle. Keep in mind however, that “heavier” is entirely relative. As Cincotta mentioned (and any trainer will tell you), a weight above your strength level is the fast track to injury.

Generally, the best way to choose a weight is to borrow a friend’s or pop into your local sporting goods store and see what feels comfortable for moves like lunges and squats. But if you can’t do that, McCall offers some guidelines for what weight is good for most people:

If you don’t have a solid foundation of muscle mass already or experience using a kettlebell, aim for a 20- to 25-pound (12kg) kettlebell for a female, and a 30- to 35-pound (16kg) bell for a male.

For those experienced with a kettlebell (i.e., have been using one 1-2 times a week already), females should opt for a 30- to 45-pound (16 or 20kg) bell, males for 40- to 50-pound (20 to 24kg) kettlebell.

Read the original article on Business Insider