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Buyers Guide: Tips to Buying a Kettlebell


Kettlebell training has exploded over the past few years, as has CrossFit®. Back in the dark ages of the early to mid 2000’s, you had to either pay an exorbitant amount and order a Dragon Door kettlebell from Pavel, or go with a shady online dealer and usually wait out a long backorder.

Things have changed. These days you can pick up a kettlebell at the local Target or Walmart, or choose from a dizzying array of online vendors. So now that you’re spoiled by choice, how do you pick the best kettlebell, and can something that is “just a hunk of iron” really be that different from another “hunk?”

Your easiest option is to start with a business that understands the rigors of functional fitness training. A top tier brand will know the ‘ins and outs’ of kettlebell training and will help you find a great item.

Note: this article is largely aimed at “fitness” style kettlebells, not Russian/competitive style kettlebells.


If you can’t find a great functional fitness company to help you, try to look at the kettlebells in person, or research them online and focus on a few key areas:

  • The handle
  • The finish
  • The shape of the “cannonball” part of the kettlebell

Check the handle of the kettlebell for a few things:

  • Diameter/Thickness – There is some personal preference here, but generally you want a handle thickness around 1.3″-1.5″. Too thin, and the kettle bell will be awkward, painful, and hard to handle. Too thick, and the handle will be hard to grip.
  • Width – Can you grip the handle comfortably with both hands? The most commonly used kettlebell movement in CrossFit® is the two-handed swing, so this is an important consideration.
  • Seam – This is huge! Many kettlebells have a seam on the underside of the handle. With high-rep snatches or even swings, this seam can tear up your hands. Make sure the kettlebell does not have this seam!

Check the finish of the kettlebell for the following:

  • Paint – You generally want a light coat of sprayed paint on your kettlebell- thick coated enamel-style paint tends to chip. And a kettlebell with chipped paint starts ripping open hands, and just looks ugly.
  • Surface – Ideally you should look for a slightly rough, even surface. This type of surface tends to hold chalk well and is great for grip during long WODs.
  • Consistency – An even finish is the sign of a well-made kettlebell.


As you rack, snatch, or jerk the kettlebell, the “ball” will rest on your wrist or forearm. Once you get used to kettle bell training, you’ll probably a prefer a kettlebell with an even finish and a nice, rounded ball. However, this part of kettlebell training is intimidating to a lot of kettlebell newbies, so there are a lot of designs out there with hollowed out areas where the kettlebell rests on your forearm. Many kettlebell experts are not fans of this design- but if it appeals to you, go for it.

There are a few other things to think about:

  • Flat bottom – A flat bottom on the kettlebell makes it easier to do renegade rows, and the rare kettlebell handstand. Some manufacturers grind their bottoms flat, some don’t.
  • Country of manufacture – You can still get some kettlebells that are made in the USA, but most aren’t. Rumor has it that Dragon Door has shifted all production overseas.
  • Vinyl or rubber coating – Just say no. It wears out, it interferes with your grip, and it doesn’t even protect your floor very well (the main purpose).

Solid casted kettlebells are considered stronger/more durable than two-piece kettlebells (where the handle is a separate piece of steel). I’ve never personally seen this affect anyone, but my wife’s sister’s boyfriend’s cousin broke a two-piece kettlebell once.

Good luck finding a great kettlebell!

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The Rx Review is an independent fitness website, reporting on the Sport of Fitness, functional fitness news, The CrossFit Games, health and diet related information, and also provides reviews on sports performance products.