From digital weights that you control with your phone to vintage hunks of pure cast iron, there are options out there for every workout. Our reviewer initially tested these kettlebells in a gym with a personal trainer to avoid injury before starting a home workout, and we’d strongly recommend you do the same unless you have plenty of experience with weights or have completed a good gym induction.
We tested the kettlebells with a combination of cardio and strength-training workouts. The Nike Training Club app has plenty of good routines with a variety of weights, while Fitify concentrates on the basics and lets you build your own training plan.
Kettlebells come in a variety of styles, but your first consideration will be selecting a weight. This depends on your style of workout as much as your strength: if you want to bring weights into an existing cardio workout (spinning, for example) go as low as possible, around 2kg. If you’re a beginner but keen to build up strength through squats and swinging, look around the 8-10kg range with a wide grip for one and two-handed moves. If you’re a “big five” kind of lifter (the classic strength moves like squat and deadlift), pick a weight that fits into your current routine – something you might not be able to do 10 reps with yet but can build up to, because good, heavy kettlebells are relatively expensive.
If you want to lift really heavy or regularly, invest in a competition-standard hollow-core kettlebell. The weight distribution feels more predictable and easy to get into the swing of, and the consistency in sizing across the weight range means you can find a grip and stick to it. If you want to lift light or as part of an aerobic workout, or you need a pair of kettlebells, a solid cast iron kettlebell will do fine.
We also tested – and loved – two very different kettlebells, a digital one with adjustable weight and a fluid-filled kettlebell, which are great for lifters with some experience.
As well as good form, the most important thing to know about kettlebells is that repeatedly putting them on the floor (or, let’s be honest, dropping them) can really damage the floor surface. Even with coated kettlebells that are designed to prevent this, it’s best to workout on a mat, and to store your kettlebells on a mat or rack like you would at the gym.
We have recommended a mix of specific weights and ranges for all abilities, but if you’re not sure whether one is right for you, test out the range in your gym before buying.
The best kettlebells for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Wolverson competition kettlebells: £79.99, Wolverson-fitness.co.uk
- Best for multiple weights in one – Jaxjox kettlebell connect: £249, Jaxjox.co.uk
- Best for protecting your floor – Neoprene cast iron kettlebells: £14.99, Bodyrev.co.uk
- Best fluid-filled kettle-bell – Reax fluikettle kettlebell: £58.63, Kettlebells.co.uk
- Best rubber-coated kettlebell – Domyos 12kg kettlebell: £34.99, Decathlon.co.uk
- Best lightweight kettlebell – Opti vinyl 2kg kettlebell: £5.99, Argos.co.uk
- Best cast-iron kettlebell – Pro Fitness 16kg kettlebell: £34.99, Argos.co.uk
- Best for two-handed workouts – Reebok 4kg kettlebell: £26.49, Amazon.co.uk
Wolverson competition kettlebells
The best of the best, these competition kettlebells are internationally renowned for good reason. Solid, one-piece casting with a hollow core, lifting and swinging these kettlebells feels noticeably different, more stable and more directed than any filled kettlebells we tested. We felt in real control of where the weight was going. We tested lower weights, but if we were going to lift heavy (singles go up to 48kg) we would do it with one of these. The ergonomics are what make them so outstanding, but the finish, the broad, grip-able handle and cool, retro boxing gym-esque branding made them our firm favourite.
Jaxjox kettlebell connect
Best: For multiple weights in one
Incredibly innovative, this smart kettlebell is actually six kettlebells in one. The external bell is a hollow shell (around 5.5kg on its own) inside which 3kg interlocking weights are stacked, and you control how many weights you want the bell to pick up or drop with your phone or the LED console on the front. It is large, easy to grip with two hands, and – once you’ve got past the initial fear that the weights might drop out the bottom – a pleasure to use. Because there’s only one kettlebell and it’s so big, it is best used in tandem with the JaxJox app, which tracks sensors on the kettlebell to monitor the progress of your swing as it guides you through virtual workouts.
Neoprene cast iron kettlebells
Best: For protecting your floor
A kettlebell coated in soft neoprene is ideal if you work out on wooden floors or in an apartment where you need to keep thuds to a minimum. This comfy range of cast iron kettlebells, which we tested in lower weights, was the softest to land that we tried, and didn’t mark our floor in the brief time we left it there. The neoprene case feels durable enough to last through a lot of workouts, but to maintain its protective layer for as long as possible we’d suggest storing it on a mat.
Reax fluikettle kettlebell
Best: Fluid-filled kettlebell
This fluid-filled kettlebell definitely takes some getting used to – but then, that’s the point. Because its weight is constantly shifting, your muscles are constantly adjusting to compensate, which provides a workout like nothing else we can think of. Ideal if you’re bored of standard weights workouts, or if you’re a bit nervous around cast iron kettlebells: the Fluikettle is slightly squishy (though it can still support your weight in a pushup), which feels less alarming if your workout calls for any throws to a partner.
Domyos 12kg kettlebell
Best: Rubber-coated kettlebell
Rubber-coated and comfortable, this is a perfect kettlebell to start an at-home workout with if you have a little bit of experience using them in the gym. All our testers could get a good two-handed grip on the handle and the weight distribution and shape was just right for single-handed swings. The rubber coating felt robust enough in our testing – we used it without a mat during one workout without any damage to our floor, but we wouldn’t recommend storing it like that for any length of time.
Opti vinyl 2kg kettlebell
Best: Lightweight kettlebell
We rated this lightweight kettlebell highly both because of its easy and comfortable swing and lower than standard-range weight, and because it wasn’t neon pink, like a huge number of lighter weights are. Ideal if you have a cardio workout that occasionally calls for small weights (like a spin class) or if you’re nervous about trying kettlebells for the first time, the vinyl is comfortable enough and easy to grip even if you work up a sweat. It is also available in higher weights.
Pro Fitness 16kg kettlebell
Best: Cast-iron kettlebell
Solid, durable and extremely unfussy, this is a classic gym dumbbell at a really good price. Made out of cast iron, it will outlast most budget kettlebells – but it will also scuff and mark your floor and do damage if you drop it on your foot. But if you store it on a mat and work out carefully, it’s got many of the benefits of professional-level kit: an even swing, excellent grip, even when you’re sweating, and a really substantial and comfortable handle for one or two hands.
Reebok 4kg kettlebell
Best: For two-handed workouts
A comfortable kettlebell that blends the benefits of cast iron with a vinyl base for softer drops and easier storage (we would still recommend using a storage mat). The very wide handle on this kettlebell made it our favourite for workouts that call for two-handed swings, but because the weight itself is quite small it’s actually pretty portable and easy to store. The handle is uncovered, which we found gave us a good grip – not too important at this low weight, but it would be at a higher weight – and it didn’t chafe, even after long workouts.
How to use kettlebells for beginners
- Squats: Start off with a simple one – squat as you usually would while holding one bell close to your chest with both hands.
- Lunges: Hold one bell in each hand – allowing them to hang by your sides – while stepping in and out of a lunge position.
- Sit-ups: Lie on your back while holding one bell to your chest with both hands, perform a sit-up as normal, and once upright, drive the bell upwards above your head until your arms are straight.
- Flutter kicks: Lie on your back while holding one bell out in front of you with both hands, and kick your legs upwards – while keeping them straight – one at a time, in a flutter-like motion.
This will depend as much on your workout style as it will your strength. For cardio, go as light as possible – around 2kg. For beginners looking to build up strength with squats and swinging, look for anything within the 8-10kg range.
Comfort of the handle
Textured, wider handles will be more comfortable to hold, especially if your hands are on the larger side.
Single kettlebell or a set?
As a rule of thumb, beginners should start with a single bell as they build up their confidence and ability, before moving on to two. It is perfectly possible to do most kettlebell exercises with just one bell, but those wanting to ramp up their fitness and strength as much as possible will be able to do this more effectively with a set.
Material coating the kettlebell
While many kettlebells are made entirely of cast-iron, others have an added layer of vinyl to prevent them doing damage to your floors – though this can crack and peel with time. For ultimate comfort and grip, rubber-coated bells are a good option. Either way, the handle shouldn’t be too rough or too smooth, so you can maintain a good grip after you have worked up a sweat.
Mat for use and storage
Repeatedly putting down (or dropping) your kettlebells can do quite a bit of damage to your floors, so it’s always best to invest in a gym mat. It’s recommended to go for a heavy-duty rubber option rather than something thinner such as a yoga mat.
The verdict: Kettlebells
Whether you’re lifting heavy from the start or looking for a pair of kettlebells to last a lifetime, Wolverson’s competition kettlebells are in a league of their own. For a full studio experience (and no worrying about scuffing the floor), invest in JaxJox’s clever system.
For the latest discounts on kettlebells and other sports and fitness buys, try the links below:
For more products to upgrade your fitness gear, read our round-up of the 8 best yoga mats perfect for using at home or in the gym
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