8 best kettlebells to upgrade your at-home fitness setup

From deadlifts to squats, work up a sweat with these tried and tested weights

Liz Dodd
Tuesday 27 April 2021 10:34
<p>From digital options to vintage hunks of cast iron, there are options out there for every workout</p>

From digital options to vintage hunks of cast iron, there are options out there for every workout

Whether you want to work up a sweat, pump up your push-up or get strong, kettlebells are an essential piece of home gym equipment – even if your home gym is a corner of your bedroom.

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.

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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.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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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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