What Kettlebell To Buy? What Kettlebell Weight To Use? The Definitive Answer

What qualities should you look for when buying your first kettlebell? And more importantly, what weight(s) should you buy?

What kettlebell to buy?

What kettlebell to buy? If you’re new to the kettlebell world, you want to invest in buying the right kettlebell. There are plenty of attributes that one would not normally think to affect enjoying your kettlebell training and/or staying injury-free but if you’re serious about your purchase there are a lot of variables to consider before buying a kettlebell.

For quick decision-making, you want to pick between cast iron kettlebells and competition kettlebells and avoid buying a kettlebell with these properties. Our preference is for competition kettlebells due to uniformity in size across all different weights. There are a lot of different types of kettlebells in between these two but they lack the quality and attributes to be taken seriously.

What kettlebell to buy?

What kettlebell to buy?

If you want to dive deeper into the attributes to consider before buying a kettlebell and making an informed choice then I suggest you read on or jump to:

Kettlebell Anatomy

Just quickly, the anatomy of a kettlebell is:

  • Handle
  • Corner(s)
  • Horn(s)
  • Window
  • Bell
  • Base

All these will be referred to further in this information.

Kettlebell Attributes

Is there a difference in the quality of kettlebells? Yes, there is a huge difference in the quality of kettlebells, and here are some of the attributes of a kettlebell that one needs to look at and understand before buying:


  • Solid
  • Hollow
  • Cement
  • Sand
  • Water


  • Cast iron
  • Steel
  • Plastic


  • Powder coating
  • E-coating (thinner coating)
  • Enamel
  • Rust-resistant coating
  • Rubber coating
  • Vinyl coating
Kettlebell handle size

Handle diameter:

  • 33mm most common
  • 35mm
  • 38mm or larger

The only recommended diameters are the first two.

Bell shape:

  • Round with a flat base
  • Ergonomically shaped
  • Egg-shaped
  • Block shaped
  • Pumpkin shaped

The only recommended shapes are the first two.

Window shape:

  • Rectangular with rounded corners
  • Square with or without rounded corners
  • Round
  • Triangle

The only recommended window shape is rectangular with rounded corners.


  • Single mold
  • Two-piece mold welded

The only recommended production is a single mold.

Avoid Buying

Avoid buying a kettlebell that has a handle that quickly turns slippery. A slippery handle will result in a tighter grip and a lot of friction from the movement within the palm which will result in blisters.

If you do buy a kettlebell with a smooth handle finish (clear coating) that will become very slippery when in use, then you can consider removing (stripping) the protective layer and letting it rust. You then maintain the handle regularly with smooth sanding paper.

Steel, enamel, and rust-resistant coating is going to make it harder for chalk to stick. Powder-coated, unfinished iron, and gritty handles make it easier for chalk to stick. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a little bit of rust on a handle when regularly maintained. It actually helps the handle to be easier to grip and also for chalk to stick.

I made the mistake of buying two 16/24. With grips that are too big.. they cause me to have to stop sooner than I should….stopped using them and invested in new ones, smaller grip

A real kettlebell is all about developing character rather than remaining untouched, smooth, shiny, and new.

Odd-shaped kettlebells

Avoid buying a kettlebell that is odd-shaped. An odd-shaped kettlebell, like for example a square, oval, flat, or egg-shaped will all be extremely uncomfortable on the forearm in the racking position.

A member of our kettlebell community posted the above photo upon which we posed the question “Which one feels the best on your arm?”.

“If I’m doing overhead work, the regular or standard ones. The grip on the adjustable ones is great but being plastic slips a little bit. Also when you remove the weighs to adjust the weight becomes a little unfortunate BUT you can still get the work done no doubt.”

Neftaly E.

Avoid buying anything two-piece mold due to the increased risk of the kettlebell breaking but also because there could be seams that will irritate or rip your skin. Cheap plastic kettlebells usually are a two-piece mold filled with sand.

Kettlebells with extruding logo.

You may wish to avoid buying a kettlebell that has an extruding stamped logo. Logos that extrude may cause discomfort when placed on the forearm during racking. A logo pressed into the kettlebell, i.e. not protruding, may cause no or less discomfort. All in all, it’s best without a stamped logo.

Handle diameter

Why do handle diameter, window size, bell shape, and window shape matter at all? Everything needs to be shaped, sized, and aligned so that smooth hand insertion can take place and the hand and arm can be positioned so that the kettlebell produces no pressure on the forearm.

Unless you only swing, deadlift, or row a kettlebell, it won’t matter much. But the moment that you need to clean, rack, or do things overhead, all of this becomes important. Just a few exercises you will miss out on or will experience issues with if you are, cleans, snatches presses, Turkish Get-Ups, windmills, overhead lunges, racked squats, and so much more.

Bigger kettlebell handle feels heavier.

A kettlebell of exactly the same weight but with a bigger handle diameter may appear to feel heavier as the grip has to do more work.

Cast-Iron Kettlebells

What kettlebell to buy?

Cast-iron kettlebells are also referred to as classic kettlebells, they are closer in shape to the Russian weights used by farmers that evolved into kettlebells as we know them today. However, the competition kettlebells were the ones popular and used in Russia way before the fitness craze.

Advantages of classic kettlebells:

  • Less daunting for smaller people
  • Can be more affordable

Competition Kettlebells

Competition Kettlebells

The advantage of competition kettlebells is that they remain the same sized bell, handle, and window no matter the weight. Sport kettlebells are made of steel and are more durable than their cast iron counterparts.

Advantages of competition kettlebells:

  • Same size no matter the weight
  • Ready for competition if you ever decide to enter
  • Better for juggling and flows
  • A bigger base for stability
Bigger base for stability

Do you need to enter competitions if you want to buy competition kettlebells? No, the kettlebells are named competition kettlebells because they are used in competitions but that does not mean you can only buy them if you enter competitions.

The great thing is, that you can do everything plus more with competition kettlebells than you can with classic kettlebells and if you ever decide to enter the amazing world of kettlebell sport then you already have what you need.

Recommended Kettlebells

Adjustable Kettlebells

When it comes to adjustable kettlebells, we only recommend adjustable kettlebells that look and feel like normal competition kettlebells. The Bells Of Steel is one such adjustable kettlebell. Most other adjustable kettlebells will have an odd-shaped window, bell, handle, and/or rattle which makes them unusable for most kettlebell exercises and uncomfortable for those that you can use them for.

The advantage of an adjustable kettlebell is that you save money in the long run, save storage space, and have less to carry around if you take your kettlebell to the park or gym.

For example, the 12kg to 32kg adjustable option has 0.5kg increments but let’s go buy a 4kg increment, which would be a 12kg, 16kg, 20kg, 24kg, 28kg, and 32kg or pound equivalent. That’s 6 kettlebells in one, the cost for those kettlebells could be way over $500 but with an adjustable kettlebell you pay way less.

Adjustable competition kettlebell

Adjustable Kettlebell From Wolverson

Jim Bain from our online kettlebell camp purchased the black competition adjustable kettlebell from Wolverson and reported no rattling when in use and he will be reporting back with exactly how long it takes to switch weights. As of now, he estimated it takes around 60 to 90 seconds, also depending on what weight you’re switching to.

Adjustable Kettlebell Versus Competition Kettlebell Versus Cast Iron Kettlebell

If you buy the right quality adjustable kettlebell then you will save money and save space. Buying the same weight in competition kettlebells or cast iron kettlebells will cost more and take up more space. On the other hand, some people like to see a collection of kettlebells rather than one, and they also want to be able to pick up their next weight right away rather than having to open and adjust the kettlebell weight before their next set.

Recommended Kettlebell Brands

Bells Of Steel

Competition Kettlebells

Bells Of Steel sells competition kettlebells online ranging from 4kg all the way up to 48kg. They ship directly from within the USA, or from the Canadian site to international locations.

Powder-Coated Iron-Cast Kettlebells

If you prefer the iron-cast kettlebells above the competition kettlebells then you can’t go past the powder-coated 4kg to 40kg range from Bells of Steel.

Buy Powder Coated Kettlebells
Kettlebell Kings Logo

Kettlebell Kings

Competition Kettlebells

Kettlebells Kings are expensive but well worth the money if you really want the perfect finish and a well-balanced kettlebell.

Powder-Coated Iron-Cast Kettlebells

Kettlebell Kings has premium quality cast iron kettlebells with a hollow core made from a single cast, without fillers. Unlike welded and filled bells, they won’t rattle or shift during exercise.

Kettlebell Kings Powder Coated Kettlebells

Iron Edge

Competition Kettlebells

Iron Edge sells black Pro Grade kettlebell sport kettlebells that are priced competitively and look absolutely awesome in black with color-coded rings around the horns. Below is a photo of a 32kg Iron Edge Pro Grade kettlebell which at the time of this writing was priced at AUSD$187 to $200.


At the time of this writing, Rogue does not sell competition kettlebells but does sell high-quality powder-coated iron cast kettlebells from their website.

Kettlebells USA

Kettlebells USA produces both classic and competition kettlebells which they sell from their website in the USA and Canada.


Onnit sells cool-looking kettlebells from their website which are pretty much useless for real kettlebell training. They also sell classic kettlebells, which we do recommend.


Wolverson sells both competition and classic kettlebells from their website and delivers to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Guernsey, and Jersey.

Maniak Fitness

Maniak Fitness sells competition kettlebells from their website which ships across Europe. Taco Fleur has some of them which traveled the whole world and are the old used-looking kettlebells you would see in his videos and photos.

Titan Fitness

Titan Fitness sells competition kettlebells, iron-cast, and even adjustable kettlebells from their website which ships within the USA.

Their cheaper adjustable kettlebells, plate-loaded kettlebells, warrior kettlebells, and hexagon T-bell systems are not recommended by us for serious fitness enthusiasts. The hexagon and T-bell systems are only good for heavy swings, rows, or deadlifts, anything else where the weight has to rest on the arm will become uncomfortable.

Iron Edge

Iron Edge is Australian-based and sells some awesome-looking competition kettlebells from their website. When we had our gyms in Australia we had kettlebells sourced from Iron Edge.

Kettlebell Suppliers By Country or Region

Kettlebell Suppliers USA

Kettlebell Kings
Bells Of Steel
Titan Fitness
Kettlebells USA

Kettlebell Suppliers Canada

Bells Of Steel
We have worked with the classic kettlebells.

Kettlebell Suppliers Europe

Maniak Fitness
We still have the competition kettlebells from over a decade ago.
Again Faster
Kettlebell Kings

Kettlebell Suppliers United Kingdom

Original Kettlebell

Kettlebell Suppliers Australia

Kettlebells Australia
Iron Edge
RAW Fitness Equipment

Kettlebell Suppliers Greece

X-Treme Stores (English available)
No kettlebells other than the competition kettlebells are recommended by us. We have several of the competition kettlebells.

Kettlebell Buying Guide

There are plenty of other guides and recommendations out there, which one should you believe? Granted that we may have some affiliate links as well, but unlike most other buying guides, we’re not influenced by the affiliate fee. We also base our findings on experience of working with tens of thousands of people across the world. Here is a great example of a popular guide put together by someone who has no kettlebell credentials and promotes all the kettlebells that we completely recommend against buying.

Sure, there are people who will get something from the JAXJOX KettlebellConnect, ONNIT Primal Kettlebell, Gravity Fitness Spartanbell, or the Bowflex SelectTech adjustable kettlebell, but most of these will turn into doorstoppers and certainly won’t be for those who are looking for more than just swings, rows, and deadlifts. Serious people are those who want to learn the kettlebell from the ground up, stay safe, and look great while working out.

Best Kettlebell For The Home Gym

Most would recommend a kettlebell with a rubber or vinyl coating to protect the floor at home, however, it’s not worth the problem these will give in other areas, like one, they can provide a lot of friction on the forearm and pinch the skin. The friction from the material can also prevent a good hand insert from happening.

The best way to protect a floor from the kettlebell is by getting a yoga, jigsaw, or other type of workout mat. With that said, no protection or coating will protect a floor from a kettlebell that drops or is put down without care. Therefore, the best solution starts by buying a kettlebell that allows a good grip, learning how to properly work with the kettlebell, and respecting the tool.

How to pick the right kettlebell weight?

What kettlebell weight to get for a male or female and how do you pick the right kettlebell weight? First, you have to figure out your goals, and that will determine what you’ll be doing with the kettlebell. You have to remember that the kettlebell is a weight (resistance) and not just for swings, there is a whole world of things that you can do with it and goals you can work toward.

Let’s say that you don’t really know what you want but just want to use the kettlebell then a good kettlebell weight for a male is 12kg/26.4lb and 16kg/35lb. If you only want to get one kettlebell then pick the 16kg/35lb if you’ve been going to the gym and did strength training, otherwise, go for the 12kg/26.4lb. For females, this will be 8kg/17.6lb and 12kg/26.4lb but preferably 10kg/22lb and 12kg/26.4lb.

If you are going to be working for strength, then you need to look at heavier weights, if you are going to be working for cardio, then you need to look at lighter weights than you would for strength. If you are going for mobility, then you need to look at the lighter end of the weights. Performing cardio with swings is going to be different than for example clean and press, as the swing is a ballistic exercise, which means it needs to be performed fast. For that to work you need resistance, i.e. a kettlebell too light is no good for swings or other ballistic exercises like the clean and snatch.

For kettlebell swings, cleans, and snatches, you want to go heavier, but if you’re working for cardio then you want to go lighter than you would when working for power. Power is shorter heavier reps/work, and cardio is lighter longer reps/work but heavy enough to provide the right resistance for the exercise to be executed correctly and safely. A weight too light for ballistic exercises usually results in injuries.

If your goal is pure strength and/or hypertrophy, then you need to get a good collection of different weights in the heavier range. You can’t expect to get good results from one weight in the wrong weight range. For kettlebell bent-over rows and squats, you will need something much heavier than curls, presses, etc.

For kettlebell swings, cleans, and snatches for cardio you are better off going for something that is between the light and heavy range but leaning more toward heavy. But starting your journey differently, i.e. break your sets up into smaller very short sets with plenty of rest between or doing other things. In other words, you are not going for the higher volume until you have trained your body to work with the weight and new exercise.

If you are going to do overhead work like shoulder presses, Windmills, Turkish Get-ups, etc., then you want to make sure you can safely get it overhead and hold it overhead. A good indication of whether it’s a good weight for the TGU is whether you can hold the weight overhead without moving for 30 to 40 seconds.

If you can’t try the kettlebell weight in the store, you can always grab a dumbbell in your gym but keep in the back of your mind that a kettlebell may feel slightly heavier (more stability required).

What kettlebell weight should I be using and what is light, medium, or heavy?

What’s a light kettlebell for one is a heavy kettlebell for another. There is no definite list that states this is light and that is heavy. As one starts, what’s a light kettlebell for another may be heavy for you, as one progresses, what’s a heavy kettlebell for another may be light for you.

It also depends on the exercise. There is a huge difference between what one shoulder presses and squats, as a squat involves 3 joints and a shoulder press 2. The squat also involves the legs which have bigger muscle groups than the arms.

To figure out for yourself what weight is light, medium, or heavy for you, you need to test your 1RM for each exercise, then divide it by 3 and the first part is light, the second part is medium, and the third part is heavy.

If you want to get more specific, then 50% of the first part is light, and the second part is light to medium. So, as an example, if your shoulder press 1RM (1 rep max) is 36kg then you divide that by 3. The outcome is 12. If you take half of each part then we get:

0 to 5.9 = light kettlebell
6 to 11.9 = light to medium kettlebell
12 to 23.9 = medium kettlebell
24 to 29.9 = medium to heavy kettlebell
30 to 36 = heavy kettlebell

For maximal strength you should be on the higher end of the heavy kettlebell. For strength you should be on the medium to heavy kettlebell. For cardio you should be on the medium kettlebell. For mobility you should be on the light to medium kettlebell, however, this can change at some stage. For power you should be on the medium to heavy kettlebell and even heavy with a change of reps and sets.

How To Maintain The Kettlebell Handle

You maintain your kettlebell handle with a sanding sponge or strip of sandpaper. If you have neither, a steel sponge scourer from the kitchen will do the trick as well.

When a bit of rust develops on the kettlebell handle then you sand it back and wipe off the dust. If a lot of rust develops, then you get a more coarse piece of sandpaper to start with and follow up with a finer piece.

Should You Buy Cheap Kettlebells?

Is it worth buying a cheap kettlebell?

When you know nothing about kettlebells then you might be tempted to go for a cheap kettlebell as they all appear to be the same anyway, but that could not be further the truth as there are a lot of things to look for when getting your first kettlebell and you want to get serious about it.

Most beginners who buy a cheap kettlebell to save money either quickly realize that spending a bit more money is worth it or they start buying additional things like gloves and forearm protection, etc. The answer is, no, it’s not worth buying a cheap kettlebell.

Well u hit the mark regarding the plastic ones. I started with them. Also because they were really cheap here compared to the iron ones…but they are: fragile, create blisters, and the heavier they are the bigger (volume) they become. Sold them and upgraded to iron

Most cheap kettlebells will have an odd shape or lack other important qualities.

The shape of a kettlebell is important as you don’t want an odd shape, whether that is the bell, handle, or window, as an odd shape results in uncomfortableness either during movements or when in a racking position. The racking position is where you hold it while performing exercises like squats, lunges, cleans, or simply transitioning to a press. An odd-shaped kettlebell will become even more uncomfortable once overhead with exercises like snatches, presses, Turkish get-ups, etc.

Handle thickness can vary drastically, and with classic cast-iron kettlebells the handle and window size increases when the weight increases. Although a thicker handle will work your grip more and for some people this is an interesting aspect, for beginners, this is not something beneficial.

Thicker handles are also not optimal for people with smaller hands and no matter what, it will always feel heavier if the handle becomes bigger, i.e. if you have a kettlebell of the same weight but a bigger handle diameter, the one with the bigger diameter will feel heavier.

Window size is important for correct kettlebell training to avoid banging, blisters, and excessive calluses you want to make sure you use the correct grips, grip transition, and hand insertion. If the window is too small then the hand can’t be inserted and usually this results in a broken wrist grip and flipping over of the kettlebell. A window size too big may allow hand insertion but will produce other annoyances like pressure on the forearm.

Should you worry about the base? The base is the bottom of the kettlebell, and if the base is not flat then the kettlebell might topple over when put down, which is not a big issue unless the handle chips the floor. The only other time it’s important to have a good flat base is if you consider doing work off the kettlebell like double kettlebell burpees, push-ups, renegade rows, etc., in that case, a good wide flat base is important to provide stability.

You should consider whether the kettlebell is one single piece of cast iron, or steel, rather than one made out of several pieces. A single cast will be more durable and less likely to break than a kettlebell which is made out of several pieces, i.e. the body is welded to the handle.

What Happens When Buying Cheap Kettlebells?

Good hand insertion and positioning of the kettlebell are key to injury-free kettlebell training without annoyances. When you buy cheap kettlebells that are odd-shaped or are missing other important qualities then that will highly likely affect your grip and racking position.

Correct kettlebell hand insertion

The grip and racking positions are often overlooked and neglected as being important while it’s truly THE most important thing in kettlebell training.

Incorrect Racking

Incorrect racking or hand insertion can result in shoulder problems, forearm bruising, excessive calluses, and ripped hands. In summary, buying cheap kettlebells will in most cases result in annoyances, injuries, and eventually giving up on kettlebell training or selling the kettlebell and upgrading.

Wide window

Buying a kettlebell with a very big wide window will prevent good hand insertion and a comfortable racking position.

When people buy cheap kettlebells, people may also succumb to buying forearm/wrist protesters, or perhaps they do have a good quality kettlebell but lack technique. So, it is important to know that even when buying a good kettlebell, it takes time to understand the correct kettlebell technique, the bell position, the right grip, grip transition, etc.

What country are the kettlebells made in?

You should also consider supporting your local businesses and look at whether there is a supplier in your country. Although most manufacturing these days is exported to China, if you find a manufacturer that keeps their business within the country, even if that costs a little more, you should consider supporting this if you can afford it.

How to use kettlebells?

Once you have purchased the best kettlebell your money can buy, you need to know how to properly use the kettlebell and this is where we (IKU™ and Cavemantraining™) come in. We’ll start by providing you with the basics completely for free.

The first drill that you should work with, not only to safely lift a kettlebell, but more so to start to understand how to build up to a proper kettlebell clean. A kettlebell clean is not something you just do in one day, it requires learning, drilling, and perfecting the movement.

Once you can safely perform the basic cheat clean then you need a good basic beginner workout that has the 4 fundamental and effective kettlebell exercises. This workout is all you need to work the full body and stay busy for years.

When you’re working out, you need to invest in improving your mobility which will help you stay in the game for a long time and more importantly, remain injury-free and enjoy your training. This is one of the key mobility exercises to include in your training.

Warming up before your workout is super important, and if you need some help with that then this beginner warm-up info is perfect for you.

When you’re ready to buy all the things that you need to enjoy your kettlebell training and make progress, then you should have a look at the following products.

Kettlebell Color Codes

Kettlebell Color Codes

Kettlebell color codes by weight:

  • 8 kg / 17.6 lbs – Pink
  • 12 kg / 26.4 lbs – Blue
  • 16 kg / 35.2 lbs – Yellow
  • 20 kg / 44.0 lbs – Purple
  • 24 kg / 52.8 lbs – Green
  • 28 kg / 61.6 lbs – Orange
  • 32 kg / 70.4 lbs – Red
  • 36 kg / 79.2 lbs – Grey
  • 40 kg / 88.0 lbs – White
  • 44 kg / 96.8 lbs – Silver
  • 48 kg / 105.6 lbs – Gold

Measuring Kettlebell Size Guide

Kettlebell Size Guide

1. You measure the total height of the kettlebell by measuring from the base to the top of the handle.

2. You measure the distance between the horns by taking the widest distance between the horns which is either at the top between the corners or at the bottom of the horns near the bell.

3. You measure the handle outside distance by measuring from the furthest edge of the horn to the other one.

4. You measure the handle diameter of the kettlebell by measuring the distance from one edge of the handle circle to the other edge.

Kettlebell Weight Increments

Kettlebell Increments

Kettlebells come in 2kg/4.4lb increments depending on what supplier you buy from. There are organizations out there that promote only 4kg/8.8lb increments. Don’t get caught up in that. There is nothing wrong with using a pink 8kg kettlebell and there is nothing wrong with increasing your kettlebell with 2kg increments. Leave the ego and macho talk at the door, focus on what’s best for you and your body. Staying safe is priority number one.

Kettlebell Buying FAQ

Which kettlebells should I start with?

Most men start with 12kg/26lb to 16kg/35lb and most females start with 8kg/17lb to 12kg/26lb. The best is to buy both, but when on a budget, stick to the lower end unless you have some kettlebell experience and or gym experience.

What size kettlebell should I use?

The size of the kettlebell refers to the weight, the weight recommendation is provided above. Only classic iron-cast kettlebells vary in size and competition kettlebells are all the same size.

Which are the best kettlebells to buy?

The best kettlebells are good quality competition kettlebells and the kettlebells from Maniak Fitness, Bells Of Steel, or Kettlebell Kings are highly recommended.

What should I look for in a good kettlebell?

A good kettlebell should have no ridges, or sharp bits, be well-balanced, and not be odd-shaped. The handle and window should be regular-sized and not too big or too small. A good kettlebell should be made from steel or iron and not plastic, or filled with sand.

What are the kettlebell weights by color?

The kettlebell color codes by weight are: 8 kg / 17.6 lbs – Pink, 12 kg / 26.4 lbs – Blue, 16 kg / 35.2 lbs – Yellow, 20 kg / 44.0 lbs – Purple, 24 kg / 52.8 lbs – Green, 28 kg / 61.6 lbs – Orange, 32 kg / 70.4 lbs – Red, 36 kg / 79.2 lbs – Grey, 40 kg / 88.0 lbs – White, 44 kg / 96.8 lbs – Silver, and 48 kg / 105.6 lbs – Gold. See above.

How do you measure a kettlebell?

The handle diameter can be found by measuring the distance from one edge of the handle circle to the other edge, passing through the circle’s center point. See above for full details.

What weight increments do kettlebells come in?

Kettlebells can come in 2kg /4.4lb increments. Read more.


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