By Stefani Sassos, MS, RDN, CSO, CDN
If you’re looking to enhance your workout, be it cardio or strength training, look no further than the kettlebell. This functional piece of equipment provides for a total-body workout, allowing you to work both those larger and smaller muscle groups. Kettlebell exercises require a ton of technique and control, but when done properly can help you build up endurance, stamina, and strength. Kettlebells can be a bit costly, but the investment is worth it since you can perform a wide variety of exercises with just one piece of equipment. Lauren Jenai, CrossFit co-founder and CEO of Manifest, says you want to consider strength, balance, durability, surface, and base when purchasing kettlebells. “It is important that a kettlebell has a clean, void-free surface that is not too rough on your hands,” says Jenai. Our top picks for the best kettlebells focused on durability, grip comfort, ease of use through functional workout movements, and overall size. © Melpomenem – Getty Images
1) Single Piece Casting Kettlebell
These Rogue Kettlebells are a staple in CrossFit gyms around the world, and for good reason. They are a single-piece casting kettlebell made from first run iron ore, and have a matte black powder coat finish that makes them quite comfortable. Jenai likes this pick and says, “As far as home use, I particularly like the fact that these kettlebells are made with a wide flat machined base. This base sits flat on the floor and does not wobble, like other raw casted kettlebells, which keep down wear and tear on floors. The attractive finish on these kettlebells is not an eyesore and does not distract from home or home gym decor.”
2) Vinyl Coated Kettlebell
This well-rounded kettlebell pick comes in sizes 7 through 45lbs. We like the sturdy iron construction and comfortable handle. The smooth vinyl coating on the base of the kettlebell makes it a good choice for home gyms as it won’t scratch your flooring. The size is relatively compact and appropriate for each weight, not overly cumbersome in any regard, and excellent for ballistic movements like swings. I’ve owned the 35lb GoFit Kettlebell for over 10 years, and with semi-regular use, it still is in great condition and looks practically new.
3) Tone It Up Kettlebell
We tested this kettlebell designed by Tone It Up founders Katrina Scott and Karena Dawn through a series of workouts, and it performed especially well with toning exercises. The material itself is smooth and prevents your hand from slipping, and the grip is very comfortable throughout movements. Some kettlebells we tested that were lightweight had a very large and overly cumbersome shape, but this Tone It Up kettlebell is compact and an appropriate size for 8lbs. The lightweight is perfect for sculpting workouts and also for beginners looking to start kettlebell work.
4) Kettlebell Connect
We were very impressed by this smart kettlebell from JAXJOX given its special features and integration with your smartphone (their app allows you to track reps and workouts, and also connects with Apple Health). Kettlebell Connect is adjustable, and weights range from 12-42 lbs in 6lb increments. For the price, you’re essentially getting six kettlebells in one. We also love that instead of getting different size kettlebells, which can take up a lot of space in a home gym, you’re able to use this space-efficient product that also has a sleek, modern look. Another plus is that the JAXJOX app features a variety of kettlebell workouts to get you started. The grip is quite comfortable as well, and we found it worked best in strict workout movements.
5) Primal Kettlebells
Not only do these primal kettlebells from Onnit make a statement in your home gym, but they are actually quite functional. With a solid iron build, they hold up very well and have a comfortable, yet sturdy grip. The size is relatively compact given the weight, and the design makes you want to take your workout into beast mode. It’s ideal for swings and deadlifts, but it’s not the best for movements overhead such as snatches or presses given its asymmetry.
6) Thompson Fatbells
Designed by powerlifter Donnie Thompson, this mix between a dumbbell and kettlebell allows for better handling and can help optimize performance in certain movements, such as chest presses and pushups. We like the flat bottom for stability and the fact that design allows more load distribution through the center of the weight. They don’t take up a ton of space and even look nice sitting in your home.