Kettlebells come in a lot of different shapes, varieties, and materials. It can be a bit confusing which ones are out there, what they’re good for, and which ones are the best choice. In this article, I’ve tried to make it as easy as possible.
|Core Materials||Cover Materials||Design||Weight Units|
|Cast Iron||Cast Iron (usually coated with paint or powder coating)||Fixed (traditional)||Kilograms|
If you want to know more about each type, keep reading below.
Kettlebell Core Material
There are two main materials that can make up the bulk of kettlebells. Cast iron and cement or sometimes concrete. Both have some pros and cons.
This is the material on the inside, but that doesn’t mean you always see it on the outside.
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Kettlebells with a cast iron core are among the most traditional and widely used. They are typically made of solid cast iron, which provides them with durability and stability. The cast iron construction makes sure that the weight is evenly distributed.
They cost a bit more but they are much more durable and feel better so they’re worth the extra money.
Kettlebells with a cement core have gained popularity as a more budget-friendly option. These kettlebells typically have a cement filling encased in a protective outer shell, often made of plastic or other materials. Sometimes they are even covered in cast iron shells.
While they may not have the same level of durability as cast iron kettlebells, they offer a cost-effective alternative for those on a budget.
Kettlebell Cover Material
Usually, if the kettlebell is cast iron on the outside, it’s also iron on the inside but there are a few where that’s not the case.
Anyways, cast iron kettlebells have that classic look and feel. Usually, the outside is not raw cast iron but there is some kind of coating on it. This can be simple paint, a stronger paint like Hammertone, or a powder coating. Powder coating generally looks very nice and lasts long.
These kettlebells don’t really wear. The coating can wear off but this doesn’t really change the functionality of the kettlebell.
The downside is that anytime you put it down on a surface that’s hard, you get a sharp impact, potentially damaging the floor. They are also a little less comfortable to use.
Material isn’t the only thing to look at when buying kettlebells, there are a ton of other factors. Click here to go to our kettlebell buying guide.
Vinyl-coated kettlebells have a layer of vinyl material covering the cast iron core. This coating provides a smooth, colorful, and comfortable surface to touch.
Usually, vinyl coated kettlebells are actually cheaper than bare cast iron ones because any manufacturing defects can be covered up by the vinyl. That leads to the casting often being less smooth which is cheaper to make.
The Vinyl provides some impact protection and allows you to put the kettlebell down a little harder on a hard surface. However, it can wear and tear over time.
Neoprene is used to cover cast iron kettlebells just like vinyl. It’s a more expensive material that looks and feels nicer. It’s also quite durable although it doesn’t handle abrasion all that well.
It provides a good grip even when wet but since the handle is usually not covered, this isn’t that much of a benefit.
I’ve personally got a set of kettlebells with a cast iron top and a Urethane part at the bottom. It’s not really a coating since it just looks like the rest of the kettlebell with a slightly different surface texture. They look and feel pretty much like a cast iron kettlebell but when you put them down, they are nice to your floor.
The urethane is very durable with minimal wear after 3 years. This is a great option if you can find them because they seem to be quite rare.
Plastic-covered kettlebells typically have a hard plastic shell encasing the cement or concrete core. This shell can offer a sleek and modern appearance. However, this is usually a harder material than neoprene or vinyl.
When the plastic cover cracks, it will expose the cement or concrete core which then leaves it exposed. That can lead to quicker degeneration. So plastic-covered kettlebells might be cheap but they aren’t very good in the long run.
If you’re careful with them they can last for a while but if you drop your bells on a hard floor, these won’t last long.
Standard kettlebells are the traditional kettlebell designs recognized by their distinctive shape. They feature a compact, round body with a handle on top. The handles are fixed to the body and there is no way to change the weight.
They can be made from and covered in different materials, and have slightly different shapes but they are easily recognizable.
Adjustable kettlebells are designed to provide flexibility in weight selection within a single kettlebell unit. These systems typically consist of a handle and weight plates that can be added or removed to adjust the kettlebell’s total weight.
Some of these are adjustable by turning a knob or pulling a pin while on others, you’ll have to manually change the weight plates on the handle.
Adjustable kettlebells usually have a slightly different shape and are a bit larger. However, you save space and money as compared to buying a range of different weights kettlebells.
Some notable brands that offer adjustable kettlebell systems include Bowflex, PowerBlock, and Ironmaster. These brands provide various weight increments and innovative mechanisms for adjusting the weight quickly and securely.
While not traditional kettlebells, dumbbell handles or grips are used to turn dumbbells into kettlebells. They clamp around the handle of a dumbbell and give you a handle like on a kettlebell.
If you’ve got a set of dumbbells, this is a simple and cheap way of using them as a kettlebell. This saves a lot of money and space.
The downside is that dumbbells are wider than kettlebells. Especially on kettlebell swings, it’s quite easy to hit your legs with a bigger dumbbell. While most kettlebell handles are solid, they aren’t as secure as a real kettlebell. In some cases, the dumbbell can slide in the grip which causes instability.
Some ranges of kettlebells are labeled in kilos while others are labeled in pounds. They aren’t any different except for the number on them. Just use a kettlebell with a unit of measurement you’re familiar with.
One small difference is that the weights don’t exactly line up. For example, you’ll have 10 and 12-pound kettlebells but not 11 pounds. However, a 5 kg kettlebell weighs about 11 pounds while a 6 kg one weighs about 13.2 pounds.
So if you feel you need a different weight than is available in ‘your’ units of measurement, take a look at the other type.
Which Type of Kettlebell Is Best?
If you’ve got the space and money and want the most durable kettlebell out there that also feels great to use. Kettlebells with a cast iron core are the way to go. If you’ve got a floor to protect, choose for kettlebells with a vinyl, neoprene or urethane coating. Otherwise, powder coated cast iron is super durable and looks nice.
In a situation where space and money are limited, a good adjustable kettlebell is a great solution. You get 5 different weight kettlebells in the space of one large one. Yes, adjustable kettlebells are expensive but they’re cheaper than buying 5 different kettlebells.