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Getting in shape requires a commitment, but making it to the gym every day can be tough. Home fitness equipment provides an effective workout and certainly makes sticking to your exercise goals a little easier – and kettlebells definitely have a place in your home workout regimen. Unlike a treadmill or elliptical, kettlebells probably aren’t going to become an eyesore in the corner of your bedroom and still provide a few heart-pounding workouts. They’re more versatile than the same old hand weights, though, so you can create an exercise regime that’s tailored to your specific fitness goals.
Buying a kettlebell probably doesn’t seem that difficult, but many factors actually affect how well this equipment fits into your workout routine. Finding the right model means knowing what materials to look for, what type of handles best meet your needs, and the proper weight to give you the best workout. With so many options available, choosing the ideal kettlebell can definitely be a challenge.
At Best Reviews, our goal is to make finding the perfect kettlebell for your home gym a little easier. Because we buy all of our own products and conduct field and expert research, we’re able to provide unbiased reviews of the top kettlebells on the market. That way, you can make an educated shopping decision and bring home a piece of fitness equipment that will help get in peak shape.
If you haven’t worked out with kettlebells before, you may not know what all the fuss is about. There’s good reason why they’ve become such a popular workout tool in recent years.
First of all, kettlebells can provide an incredible workout. When you swing them, you can elevate your heartrate quickly and burn up to 20 calories per minute, which is often more than you’d do in a cardio class at the gym. Best of all, they actually combine the best of a cardio and strength training workout so you never have to choose between the two again.
If you have issues with achy joints, kettlebells also tend to be easier on the body. The workouts utilize smooth, swinging transitions so your shoulders, elbows, and knees don’t take as much of beating as they would with jump training. Kettlebells can be worked into a variety of exercise forms, too, so you can use them with strength and power training, as well as with traditional cardio workouts such as running.
Best of all, kettlebells don’t take up much space in your home. You don’t need to make room for a bench or barbell set in your den, or shove your treadmill in a corner of your guest room. You can easily stash your kettlebells in a closet or under the bed, and still get the same intense workout you’d get from a five-minute sprint.
A 15 minute workout on an elliptical usually burns between 50 and 125 calories, while a 15 minute workout with kettlebells can burn about 300 calories.
When purchasing kettlebells, you usually have to choose between two materials: cast-iron and vinyl.
As their name implies, cast-iron kettlebells are made from solid cast-iron. Because they only contain one material, they tend to provide the most accurate weight measurements. Cast-iron models are also extremely durable, so you can trust that your equipment will last for years.
Vinyl kettlebells also feature cast-iron, but the metal is coated with a layer of vinyl to keep the weight from damaging your floor if it falls. However, the vinyl coating is prone to cracking and peeling, and the weight of the kettlebells is often inaccurate because the iron beneath may contain holes that are filled with another material. When this is the case, the bell doesn’t precisely match the weight measurement indicated.
Be aware that vinyl-coated kettlebell handles have a tendency to crack.
Kettlebells are typically made in two ways: via a one-piece casting or a two-piece assembly.
With a one-piece casting, the handle and ball of the kettlebell are actually one continuous piece. That means you don’t have to worry about the ball falling off as you swing the kettlebell around.
With a two-piece assembly, the handle is a separate piece, attached to the kettlebell’s ball. As a result, the handle isn’t as secure as in a one-piece assembly, which means it’s possible the handle could snap or break off.
One-piece cast kettlebells are more durable than two-piece assemblies, as the juncture between the ball and handle is solid and more resistant to cracking.
When the iron is cast for the kettlebells, a seam is left across the center of the handle’s underside. If the seam isn’t treated, it can be uncomfortable to grip the handle.
Higher end brands will file down the seam to create a smooth, even surface. Inexpensive kettlebells often don’t have this seam removed, which leaves a sharp edge that can cut your skin when you grip the handle.
Always feel along the underside of the handle before you purchase a kettlebell. If you feel a rough, raised seam, it’s best to try another model.
Feel the underside of the handle to ensure there isn’t a seam that will irritate or hurt your hands.
Diameter and Width
The size of a kettlebell’s handle can make a big difference in how comfortable it is to hold.
In general, the diameter of a kettlebell’s handle will increase as the weight goes up. For example, a 13 pound kettlebell will have a handle with a smaller diameter than a 16 pound kettlebell. Smaller bells will typically have a diameter of about 30 mm. Heavier bells will have diameters of approximately 38 mm.
Use the size of your hands as a guide when considering a kettlebell’s handle diameter. The larger your hands, the larger you need the diameter to be.
Pay attention to the width of the handle too, though. Some exercises may require placing both of your hands around the handle, so you don’t want the fit to be too tight or uncomfortable. Most kettlebells increase the width of the handles as the weight goes up, but you can find some bells that have handles which extend past the ball in a V-shape for smaller models. If you have large hands, look for this type of kettlebell.
Ancient Greeks had a kettlebell-like exercise tool. It consisted of a large rock with a handle attached so it could be used for strength training.
While most kettlebells are made of cast-iron or vinyl-coated cast-iron, their handles are available in several different types of finishes, including bare iron, enamel, powder coating, and vinyl.
Bare iron handles are what most competition kettlebells have, so they’re the standard. Bare iron provides a good grip, so you don’t have to worry about the equipment flying out of your hands.
Powder coating has an even rougher texture, so this type of finish is a good option if you find that your hands get very sweaty during workouts.
Enamel handles have a smoother finish, but they still work well.
Vinyl handles are best avoided because they don’t offer a good grip and have a tendency to crack and peel.
Of the different types of handle coating, bare iron and powder coating provide the most secure grip.
Once you’ve chosen a kettlebell with the material, construction, and handles that you prefer, the most important question to answer is what size to get.
Kettlebells are available in weights ranging all the way from 5 to 88 pounds. The appropriate size for you depends on your fitness level and what type of workouts you’ll be doing.
In general, a woman who is older or not very active should start with 5 pounds to 15 pounds. A man in a similar condition should opt for a 16 pound to 26 pound kettlebell.
For women in average shape, with some weight training experience, it’s best to start with a 15 pound to 25 pound size. A man in average shape should choose a kettlebell between 26 and 35 pounds.
A woman who is extremely fit and has significant experience with weight training should purchase a kettlebell between 26 pounds and 35 pounds. For an extremely fit man, kettlebells from 35 pounds to 53 pounds should work well.
Russian kettlebells are traditionally measured by poods. A pood equals 36.1 pounds.
When it comes to fitness equipment, kettlebells are one of the more budget-friendly options around. In general, they range from $10 to $30.
If you want an extremely well-made kettlebell that’s comfortable to grip and will stand up to intense workouts, opt for a model that’s approximately $25 to $28.
If you are just starting with kettlebells and aren’t sure that you’re going to like the workout, start with an inexpensive option, one that comes in at at about $11, and upgrade once you know that you’re committed to the exercise routine.
Exercisers experience an average heart rate of 93% maximum during a kettlebell workout.
There are plenty of single-kettlebell exercises. Start with one, then work your way up to two-kettlebell exercises.
While kettlebells can provide effective aerobic exercise during a workout, they also cause a prolonged anaerobic burn after you’ve completed your routine.
A kettlebell workout usually burns approximately 20 calories per minute, which is the equivalent of running at a six-minute mile pace.
For exercise, the Shaolin Monks in China lifted large padlocks that were very similar to modern kettlebells.
Q. How many kettlebells do I need?
A. If you’re just starting out with kettlebell workouts, it’s best to stick to a single bell at a time. Once you master exercises that utilize a single kettlebell, you can progress to those that require two of the same weight. However, it’s a good idea to have kettlebells in a couple of different weights so you can scale your workout up or down, depending on your goals.
Q. What muscles can you work out with a kettlebell routine?
A. From a weight training perspective, kettlebells can target most of the major muscle groups. Depending on your routine, you can work out your back, shoulders, arms, abs, hips, glutes, obliques, and/or legs.
Q. How often should you work out with a kettlebell?
A. The frequency of your routine will depend on the intensity of your workout, so it’s a good idea to consult with a trainer or fitness expert for advice. However, because the kettlebell can work out the entire body, it’s important to rest so your body has time to recover. In general, working out every other day is a good average intensity program for beginners.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.