Buyer's guide and recommendations for home kettlebells

by Jason Kapnick
As we get ready to finish our first week of "social distancing" one of the most common topics I'm getting questions about is buying kettlebells for you home. 

So let's get it into it, Q&A style!

Q: If I can only buy one size kettlebell, which size should I buy? A general guideline would be to buy a kettlebell that you can do both swings and turkish get-ups with. It will probably be a little light for swings, and on the medium to heavy side of your TGU work weights.

Q: What about buying two kettlebells? The most important thing about buying two kettlebells is that they be somewhat far apart from each other in weight! There's no point in owning both a 14kg and 16kg - they serve the same purpose. 

Q: I'm stuck at home during the quarantine and need help with kettlebell workouts, what can I do? I'm so glad you asked. We're putting out daily home workouts, both with bodyweight and with a kettlebell. You can sign up here: https://signup.catalystsportnyc.com/home-workout-series-newsletter/

As far as what weights to buy, go back to your swing and get-up weights - those two exercises are the foundations of a good home kettlebell routine. As you think about expanding beyond that, consider weights that will accommodate presses, cleans, squat. The more the better, so you can perform kettlebell complexes. 

Q: What is a "competition kettlebell"? Competition kettlebells are made for 1-handed use, and their dimensions are identical regardless of weight. In other words, a 48kg is the exact same size as a 4kg, even though it's 12x heavier. As a result, lighter kettlebells (below 16kg) will feel clumsy.

Competition bells are typically more expensive than regular kettlebells, but are usually very well made and great to use. A drawback is that the handle is a bit narrow for two-handed swings.

Q: What should I look for when buying a kettlebell? The two things that are most important are the coating and the dimensions / balance. Find a durable coating that holds chalk well and isn't too rough on your hands. Determining proper dimensions is hard to quantify, but some bells just seem more balanced. 

Q: Is it worth it to spend a few extra dollars on a kettlebell? I say yes. These things are extraordinarily durable, and will literally last a lifetime. Buy nice, don't buy twice. 

Q: What are your favorite brands? Here's my ranking:

Top Tier

-The RKC bell by Dragon Door is simply without peer. They are perfectly sized and balanced, and have a remarkable coating that's a pleasure to hold and extremely durable. I've handled DD bells that have been subject to 15 years of hard commercial use, and don't have any chips, marks, or rust on them. Most of the kettlebells we have at Catalyst are RKC bells. 

Unfortunately, Dragon Door is mostly out of stock as of this writing. It seems like they have a few "in-between" sizes available (26kg, 30kg). The Dragon Door bells also have a price tag to match their quality.

Disclaimer: Joe and I teach the RKC workshop for Dragon Door, and the link above is an affiliate link, which means if you click it and make a purchase, we'll get a commission. None of this impacts the above - they're objectively the best kettlebells on the market. 

Very Good Kettlebells

-Rogue Kettlebell and Rogue Competition Kettlebell - These are great kettle bells for the money. They have very similar dimensions to the RKC bell and balance very well. The coating feels great in your hand, although it's not as durable as the RKC bell. We have a bunch of these at Catalyst and in my home gym. I give them my strong recommendation. Rogue has super fast shipping and customer service as well. 

-Kettlebell Kings - I've never used these personally, but their reputation is fantastic. They appear to be the perfect dimensions, and people rave about their coating. They are really sharp looking and seem like great value

"Good Enough" Kettlebells 

-Perform Better "Gravity Bell" - This is fine. You'll be able to get strong still. We've got a few of them at Catalyst from times when we ran into back-orders at Dragon Door and Rogue. I'm sure their competition bells are passable too. 

-Ader Premier Kettlebell at Rogue  - I have a soft spot for these because an Ader premier was the first kettlebell I ever bought (Joe and I split it and used it at NY Sports Clubs when we worked there). The handle is a little too wide for the body, and the coating is unusual - it's a little shinier than most kettlebells. I actually like the coating a lot even though it's different. You can't go wrong with these. 

Q: Is there any kettlebell to avoid? Some of the telltale signs of a cheap kettlebell are: vinyl coated, neoprene coated, leather, handle is way too wide for the body, handle coated in epoxy.

On some level though, weight is weight. When I first learned kettlebells, all I had access to were the worst kettlebells imaginable. Just get some weight and get to to work.

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