The best kettlebells to upgrade your workouts

Pick from our roundup of best kettlebell weights so you can really get into the swing of your workout.

Row of three kettlebell weights

by Natalie Corner |

At first glance, a kettlebell may look quite unusual to the unseasoned gym-goer, but in practicality, it’s one of the most versatile pieces of weight equipment you can get your hands on.

Thanks to the handle that sits on top of the kettlebell weight, it makes your training more efficient because it encourages you to use your full body as you work to keep your centre of gravity.

Perhaps the most fun part of having a kettlebell is doing kettlebell swings, one of the best kettlebell exercises that will have you feeling like Hulk as you swing around the weight and get your heart racing and calories burning.

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What is a kettlebell?

A kettlebell is a single-hand weight. The majority of the weight resides in the ball, which is usually made out of cast iron and the handle is on top. Kettlebells come in a variety of weights and tend to be used for a variety of exercises like single-leg deadlifts, lunges, shoulder press, and bent-over rows.

We've rounded up the best kettlebell weights for your home workouts and the key features you need to look for below.

The best kettlebells at a glance

Best kettlebell for quality: PROIRON Cast Iron Kettlebell Weight

Best kettlebell for safety: METIS Neoprene Kettlebell

Best budget kettlebell: Amazon Basics Cast-Iron Kettlebell

Best for progression: ISOGYM Adjustable Kettlebell

Most affordable kettlebell sets: UK Fitness Kettlebell Set Vinyl Kettlebells

Best adjustable kettlebell: Kettlebell Kings12-32KG Adjustable Competition Style Kettlebell

Best investment for training: Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Dumbbell System

Best kettlebell for easy handling: Pro Fitness 10kg Kettlebell

Best kettlebell by a reputable fitness brand: EVERLAST 10kg Kettlebell

Kettlebell features to look out for

• Cast iron - bear in mind the size increases with the weight

• Adjustable kettlebells - option to increase the weight with one kettlebell

• Vinyl-coated - better protection for home use, often lighter weights

• Good handle grip - you need to be able to grip your whole hand around the bar

• Competition kettlebells - compact square handle designed to be used for one hand

How to use kettlebells?

When you use a kettlebell, you want to consider a few things: the size of the handle, the weight and the shape of the ball. These will all factor into how well you can perform an exercise, and therefore, achieve the most impact.

For many kettlebell exercises, you only need one weight which makes it a more affordable piece of equipment to invest in. For beginners, start with something between 5kg-8kg, for those more advanced, head straight for something above 12kg to really get a good swing.

You will need to have a good grip of the handle on the kettlebell in one hand to perform your exercise and make sure that you can lift it comfortably above your head depending on what move you are doing.

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As you increase the weight of your kettlebell, be careful to consider how easily you will be able to perform actions. A kettlebell snatch movement, where you flick the bell over your wrist as you press it above your shoulder, may be easier with a 5kg weight, but a 12kg could leave you with bruises.

How to do kettlebell swings?

Kettlebell swings are the easiest move to get to grips with when you get a kettlebell. It may sound simple to swing the weight, but there are several form factors you need to follow to get the most out of one of the best kettlebell exercises.

Even though you are swinging the kettlebell with your arms, the move is not about your arm strength. Choosing a heavier weight will make this harder, but not impossible because the power is all in your hips and driving them forward.

Woman swinging a kettlebell indoors
©Photo: Getty Images

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Place your feet a little more than hip-distance apart, and hold the kettlebell using both hands in the centre. Make sure there is enough space for the kettlebell to swing between your legs and not hit them! Bend at your knees and push your hips backwards so that your bottom sticks out, you will need to keep your upper body straight and your core engaged so that the kettlebell doesn’t pull on your lower back.

Then as you swing, the kettlebell raises and you drive your hips forwards, and give your glutes a little squeeze as you feel the weight reach the top arc of your movement. The kettlebell swing is essentially a standing hip thrust, rather than a squat, with the weight naturally swinging upwards.

You can also do single-arm swings following the same method, using the weight in one arm and swapping after an equal amount of reps.

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What are kettlebells good for?

The kettlebell is a functional piece of fitness equipment because it encourages you to perform in everyday life. Think carrying your child or lifting heavy grocery bags, and you’ll soon notice how strong you actually are as you increase your weight load.

As well as toning your arms, kettlebell swings will help shape your glutes and give your rear a lift. Using the equipment will also encourage better posture because you’re using your whole body to manoeuvre the weight, engaging all your muscles to remain balanced.

Woman squatting with kettlebell at home
©Photo: Getty Images

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Kettlebells vs dumbbells vs barbells

You need good form and technique to use kettlebells, dumbbells and barbells so that you don’t put yourself at risk of injury.

Kettlebells allow for easier movement due to the handle and ability to rotate your hand. It is better for some exercises like the kettlebell swing and a single-arm deadlift or Turkish get up.

Kettlebells are an option if you only have the budget for one free weight, as many exercises use a single kettlebell. Fixed dumbbells are designed to use as a pair in each hand and get more expensive as the weight increases. Adjustable dumbbells can be a more affordable option and will be easier to use if you don’t have great balance.

As previously mentioned, some exercises work better with different equipment. Using a barbell for hip thrusts means you can add a lot more weight and the longer bar gives you more room for movement. However, barbells take up more space, can be expensive and are pretty difficult to get hold of due to stock issues.

Natalie Corner is the Deputy Commercial Content Editor for Bauer Media, working across brands such as What’s The Best, Yours, Mother&Baby, Heat and Closer, specialising in lifestyle and fitness content.

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