Working as a certified personal trainer for over a decade, I’ve come across and identified some workout gear that, in my opinion, belongs in a professional gym only. Exercise bikes and treadmills can be good for home gyms, but cable machines, boxes for jumps and even some free weights — specifically kettlebells — are harder to use at home, especially in an apartment. To me, kettlebells always seemed too clunky and heavy, and I couldn’t fathom how to stash them in my living room — my workout area — in a way that would be both stylish and functional. However, at the beginning of the pandemic when my gym was closed, I decided to shake things up and order one — and I’ve since become a big fan.
“A kettlebell is a full-body workout,” says fitness coach Eric Guilmette. “A swing will work hamstrings, glutes, lower back and shoulders. Most of the movements are multi-joint movements and will work multiple muscle groups.”
I’ve added a five-minute kettlebell routine to my regular strength-training regimen and have found a lot of value in even the most basic exercises. I personally don’t need an entire set of kettlebells in order to make the most of my workouts, either.
While the kettlebell I got was smaller than I’d expected, I’ve actually come to incorporate kettlebell routines into my workouts regularly, even if I bucket it alongside my other routines and not in replacement of them. If you’re likewise looking for a kettlebell, you’ll notice that there are many options out there, and a lot of them look nearly identical. After all, the kettlebell design is ubiquitous for the most part.
So what are the best kettlebells to buy? To help guide your shopping, I talked to some fitness experts about their tips and recommendations for the best kettlebells to shop this year.
The best kettlebells for at-home workouts in 2022
If you’re looking to buy a kettlebell to up your workout routine and improve your overall body strength, you may be overwhelmed by all the options out there today. From vinyl- and powder-coated to cast iron, there are many materials to choose from, each of which has its own pros and cons. To help narrow your search, we asked gym owners, fitness coaches and personal trainers to weigh in on their favorite kettlebells.
Almost all of the experts we consulted said Rogue is their favorite Kettlebell brand. “Rogue is the gold standard,” Guilmette said. Gym owner Pasquale Amato agreed: “Rogue is known for utilizing the most premium materials in their products,” he said, adding that it is the kettlebell of choice at his gym. According to the brand, the kettlebells are cast from one single piece of iron ore, creating a stronger, more reliable handle with no chance of “voids” in the surface, which could cause looseness or unsteadiness. Rogue offers 18 different weights, from 9 to 62 pounds, designated by a color-coded handle. Its 40-pound kettlebell was recently approved for use with the United States Army’s Combat Fitness Test.
Like the Rogue, this cast iron kettlebell is made of solid cast iron with no seams or weak spots in its construction, according to the brand. It has a vinyl coating to protect the floors as well as a flat bottom for stability, Yes4All says. It’s offered in 10 weights, ranging from 5 pounds to 50 pounds, and has a 4.8-star average rating from more than 16,000 reviews on Amazon.
Guilmette said the traditional cast iron kettlebell is extremely durable. Also, a cast iron kettlebell is usually smaller than a vinyl one of the same weight because it is more dense, which may make it easier to handle. This highly rated option from AmazonBasics, which comes in 10 different weights from 10 pounds to 60 pounds, has a textured easy-grip handle and boasts a 4.8-star average rating from over 2,600 reviewers.
“Kettlebells can take up a lot of space. If you are working out at home or going to a park, it’s nice to choose one with a dial so you can change the weight all in one,” said personal trainer Dominic Kennedy. Iconic at-home fitness brand Bowflex makes an adjustable kettlebell, which gives you six different weight configurations from 8 pounds to 40 pounds. In my opinion, its elevated design will help it fit in better with your other non-fitness decor and style.
Peter Beitia, director of personal training and exercise physiologist at ADAPT North Miami, said his favorite kettlebell isn’t a kettlebell at all, but rather an adjustable contraption that snaps dumbbells into the kettlebell configuration. I tried out this device a few years ago and absolutely loved it. It’s easy to use and ultimately gives you unrivaled flexibility with the weight you prefer, given you have the appropriate dumbbells to match it. “I recommend this to my clients, particularly if they are wanting to set up a small home gym and want to keep it minimal,” Beitia said. The Yes4All brand offers a similar gadget at a slightly lower price.
If you are worried about having a heavy piece of equipment in your home and the associated risk of denting your floors, Guilmette suggested opting for a padded kettlebell. “If you picked up a standard cast iron kettlebell and dropped it on granite or hardwood — or whatever material your flooring is — it'll at the very least leave a dent, if not worse,” he said. While he believes advanced athletes will be more adept at using cast iron, he recommended that beginners ease into the kettlebell space with a soft one like this option from Bionic Body. “The Bionic Body Soft Kettlebell is durable and can withstand general wear and tear — but most importantly, it isn't going to damage your home or hurt (as much) if it drops on your foot,” he noted. The handle on this kettlebell is relatively large, too, which gives you plenty of grip space for two-handed movements like a kettlebell swing, he said.
Alicia McKenzie, a former gym owner and personal trainer, said that a kettlebell is always one of the first pieces of equipment she recommends for anyone attempting to build a home gym. She recommended the CAP Barbell Cast Iron Kettlebell — “it comes in multiple sizes, it's durable and [the brand] makes long-lasting products,” she said. “I used the CAP brand when I owned a gym, and their equipment can really take a beating.”
Kettlebell tips for beginners
According to SetforSet, a site that offers advice on training equipment and provides functional fitness workouts, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to choosing a kettlebell for your needs. Choosing the right weight depends on your gender, age, fitness goals and overall fitness level. For women (18 years and older), SetforSet suggests beginners start out with a kettlebell that is 13 to 18 pounds. For men, it suggests a starting weight of 24 to 35 pounds.
Kettlebells challenge your balance because they change your center of gravity, making regular exercises like lunges and squats more difficult. So as far as the routine, Amato says it’s best to start with a few basic moves, like kettlebell swings and kettlebell reverse lunges.
“Be sure to leave your ego at the door,” Amato said. “Start with simple baseline movements, such as goblet squats and kettlebell deadlifts. As your movement competency increases over time, you can progress into more complex movements, such as Olympic-style lifts and heavier loads. This will keep your workout safe and keep you on track for continuous results over time.”
Throughout all movements with the kettlebell, remember to keep your core tight by drawing your naval into your spine, maintaining control of the kettlebell throughout all movements.