There are different styles of kettlebells and different styles of training. It’s important to understand what’s out there when it comes to kettlebell designs so you can buy the right kettlebell, and to understand what kettlebell training styles are out there so you can decide what’s best for you.
When it comes to the main differences between the actual kettlebell design, they are:
- Classic Kettlebells
- Competition Kettlebells
Classic Kettlebells/Cast Iron
The handle and window on the classic kettlebells usually change in size when the weight goes up. The bigger handle and window sizes on this kettlebell can be of benefit for double arm swings for people with big hands. The flat area on any of the kettlebell designs can become annoying on the forearm.
There are also plastic and rubber-coated kettlebells that are of similar shape, and they are to be avoided at all costs.
Competition Kettlebells/Pro Grade
The handle and window on the competition kettlebells do not change in size when the weight goes up. No changes to the size of the kettlebell will be of benefit to the athlete as they don’t need to get used to a bigger handle, bigger window, or bigger bell when they use different weights.
A typical question is “What kettlebell should I buy?“. At Cavemantraining we recommend competition kettlebells for all our kettlebell workouts and that’s all we would use, but if there is no alternative then we’ll use whatever is at hand. The most important thing when buying kettlebells is to make sure that:
- It’s not rough
- Doesn’t have dents or deep scratches (nothing to do with aesthetics)
- Is properly balanced (nothing worse than an unbalanced kettlebell)
- Doesn’t have a rubber coating (friction)
- Has a good window size for your hand
You’re always better of investing a bit more money into your kettlebell. From years of experience, I have seen that people buy cheap ones and they give up or end up buying a good one and getting rid of the first kettlebell they bought. Competition kettlebells are usually a bit more expensive but are well worth it when it comes to the comfort factor.
Different Training Styles
Different styles of kettlebell training. If you want to put working out with kettlebells in a category or box, then it basically boils down to six categories that describe the style people lift/use kettlebells in, and they are:
- Kettlebell flow
- Kettlebell sport
- Kettlebell juggling
- CrossFit Kettlebells
- Hybrid Kettlebells
This refers to kettlebells being used within CrossFit workouts, and is commonly limited to:
- American kettlebell swing
- Snatch (hang is most common)
- Overhead walking lunges
- Farmer walks
CrossFit generally uses classic-style kettlebells but some boxes will have competition kettlebells. Usually, when the owner is into kettlebell training, you’ll find the competition kettlebells.
This refers to kettlebells being used with a focus on strength and power, high intensity with few repetitions, and is commonly limited to:
- Single-arm swing
- Turkish get-up
- Overhead press
Hardstyle uses classic kettlebells only.
This refers to the kettlebells being used with non-stop movement, throw, catch and release, moving through all planes of motion. Kettlebell juggling can be done with both the classic and competition kettlebells but the competition kettlebell is more suited for it.
This refers to the kettlebells being used for competitive sport with predefined lifts for a set period of time. The goal is cardiovascular and muscular endurance. Sets usually take 10 minutes, half marathons are 30 minutes, and full marathons are 60 minutes. Common lifts are:
- Clean and jerk
The official kettlebell sport is only performed with the competition kettlebells.
Kettlebell flows are a style of training where the kettlebell moves seamlessly from one exercise into the next without putting the weight down. This is great for many goals. Kettlebell flow really belongs to freestyle training as the exercises can be taken from any other style.
Flows can be performed with both the classic and competition style kettlebell but the competition kettlebells ar better suited for it.
Freestyle or Hybrid Kettlebell Training
As you can see, all of the above are fixed and focused on a certain set of exercises or a certain way of training and that’s great.
Freestyle and hybrid (or as we call it Caveman Kettlebells) refer to the kettlebell being used for any type of training with an unlimited amount of kettlebell exercises and variations. The kettlebell is used for multiple benefits, some being, but not limited to cardio, strength, agility, flexibility, mobility, endurance, and so on. List of all kettlebell exercises. We are big on creating hybrid workouts that include some form of kettlebell training from the above list and then create a hybrid by including bodyweight exercises, mobility work, flexibility, and other important work that is usually neglected.
Black or White
Freestyle explained. Things are not always black or white. There is the American kettlebell swing, sport style kettlebell swing, Hardstyle kettlebell swing, but between all of that there are plenty more kettlebell swing variations, as taught in our kettlebell swing course, they have a purpose and belong to the freestyle category. There is so much more that does not fall into the five other categories because it’s performed differently or simply not included. For example, awesome kettlebell complexes.
We recommend becoming familiar with all types of kettlebell training and exercises.