Until recently, the best-known Russian imports were probably vodka, caviar, nesting dolls and big, fuzzy hats. That all changed, though, with the kettlebell revolution.
Athletes in Russia have been using them for decades, but they’ve recently become all the rage in Western training regimens. The uninitiated might think that a kettlebell is simply a cannonball (or an oversized bowling ball) with a handle.
That couldn’t be further from the truth; great care is paid to their size, the material they’re made from and their coating – and for the more elaborate versions, their ability to change weight and even shape.
Kettlebells are now a favored tool for overall strength training as well as effective cardio workouts, often chosen over dumbbells because their shape allows the user to do much more with them.
Groom+Style have taken a look at the suddenly-huge assortment of kettlebells available on the market and selected what we think are the top 5 best kettlebells – both adjustable and non-adjustable versions for resistance training.
1. Rocketlok 24-36 Adjustable Kettlebell
It looks like the Rocketlok are not available on Amazon at the moment, please consider another model below while we find a suitable replacement.
These Rocketlok adjustable kettlebells are first-rate. They’re made completely from solid cast steel except for the outer shell which is powder coated with a smooth topcoat, and the polyurethane lock which keeps the interchangeable steel weights inside the bell.
The Rocketlocks use a really cool “Russian Nesting Doll” design, with the user putting different sized weights inside the bell in order to adjust the overall weight of the device (and no special tools are needed to change the weights).
The kettlebell starts at 24 pounds, and the cylinders which can be substituted are 28, 32 and 36 pounds; because of the Rocketlok’s design, the overall size and shape of the kettlebell, its balance and its center of gravity never change when you go up in weight level, unlike most adjustable competitors. That’s a huge advantage, since keeping the same shape means you don’t have to change the way you exercise at higher weight levels.
There’s usually a learning curve when you switch from standard kettlebells to adjustable ones, because of the differing sizes and shapes. Rocketloks make it a snap to work your entire body at varying weight levels, and are very reasonably priced.
Key specifications of the Rocketlok 24-36 Adjustable Kettlebell:
There’s nothing wrong with owning a cool-looking piece of home gym equipment, as long as it delivers the goods. And the stylish PowerBlock KettleBlock definitely delivers, for those who want to work out with a fairly-light kettlebell.
PowerBlock is well-known for its quality adjustable dumbbells and the KettleBlock is just as solidly built. The construction is solid metal with an outer coating of tough plastic, which won’t break or crack if accidentally dropped, and sturdy clips that ensure the weights won’t rattle around or drop off during use. There are two versions of this adjustable kettlebell; one ranges in total weight from five to 20 pounds (in increasing increments of three or four pounds), and the other lets you choose a weight between eight and 40 pounds (in increments of four or five pounds).
You simply move pins on the unit to select your desired weight, and the right combination of brightly-colored weight plates (that’s the cool-looking part) will be ready for you to lift. There’s also a convenient guide on the block itself, allowing you to quickly choose the proper combination of weights. The G+S team found that makes KettleBlock is a lot easier to figure out and use than some of the other adjustable models on the market. There’s only one downside: the edges are a little sharp, so you may want to wear protective clothing or arm pads to be sure you don’t get nicked up.
The KettleBlock is rock-solid, easy to use, reasonably priced, and a simple way to add kettlebells to your weight setup without shelling out for an expensive set of standard bells.
Checking the specs of the PowerBlock KettleBlock:
3. Stamina 36-Pound Adjustable Kettle Versa-Bell
This is another kettlebell which allows you to add weight to the bell without a change in the unit’s weight or shape. With the Stamina, you add plates to increase the weight, but the plates all go inside the cavity of the plate and are held in by a locking pin, so you don’t have to change exercise routines to compensate for a larger kettlebell. The available weights range from 16 to 36 pounds in increments of four pounds, a much more usable range for newer users than the Ironmasters.
Stamina is well-known for producing quality equipment, and this kettlebell is what you’d expect: durable. The handle is cast iron and the plates are steel; while the bell itself is strong plastic, it’s well-made and will last a long time. The handle allows for either one-handed or two-handed use. There’s a square base pad made to hold unused weights, and also to hold the kettlebell if you want to do off-the-floor pushups.
The reason this unit is ranked a bit lower on our list is that you can feel the weights inside the bell shifting at times – not optimal, but not anything that should detract from the overall effectiveness of these very nice kettlebells.
Key info on the Stamina 36-Pound Adjustable Kettle Versa-Bell:
4. RKC Russian Kettlebell (Dragon Door)
If you want something, it’s always a good idea to go with the original; in this case, that would mean the classic military-grade, official RKC Russian kettlebell introduced to America by Pavel Tsatsouline and Dragon Door. They’re sold in many different weights, with the 35-pound kettlebell their most popular, but their 18 and 26-pound versions are often chosen by beginners, and they have options as low as 10 pounds and as high as 106 pounds.
These kettlebells are molded from solid cast iron with a rust-resistant coating applied to the outside, so there are no seams or burrs and the grip is smooth, firm and comfortable. The handles are suitable for either one- or two-handed use (unless you have very large hands).
They’re a little more expensive than some of their competitors, with prices naturally increasing as you go up in size, but the quality is worth the extra cost – and you’re getting the “original” when you buy an RKC Russian Kettlebell from Dragon Door.
Key info on the RKC Russian Kettlebell from Dragon Door:
5. CFF Pro Competition Russian Kettlebells
The often-garish colors of these kettlebells may be off-putting or may make you think they’re a cheap product to be avoided. Don’t be fooled. They are manufactured specifically for cross-fit competitions, and are made from single-cast machined steel; they’ll last forever. The weird colors are actually a neat design idea since each weight of kettlebell is finished with a special paint in a different color, making it easy to distinguish between weights during workouts or competition.
The handles are competition regulation, but thinner than you’ll find on most kettlebells, and rectangular to make it easy for two-handed use. You may find them easier or more difficult to grip depending on your personal preferences, and many people have found that two-handed use is difficult because of the thin handles. The only other negative is that the heaviest kettlebell made by CFF is a 70 pounder, with other choices ranging from 17 to 61 pounds. All are exactly the same size, however, unlike many competitive models which get bigger as they get heavier. They also have flat bottoms, which makes life easy.
They’re quality all the way, although some of the distinctive aspects of the CFF Pro Russian kettlebells may not be to your liking.
Specifications for the CFF Pro Competition Russian Kettlebells:
Bonus Model: Ironmaster Quick-Lock Kettlebell 57.5 Pound Combo
If you’re a novice kettlebell user, you may want to move on to the next review. But if you’re an experienced lifter or workout warrior, you owe it to yourself to check out these adjustable Ironmaster babies.
For starters, you need some muscle just to lift one; the handle alone weighs 22 ½ pounds, and you can increase the overall weight of the Ironmaster to a terrific 80 pounds, in increments of 2 ½ pounds.
These are the more usual type of adjustable kettlebells, in that their size and shape change as you add stacking plates to them. The plates stay firmly in place thanks to a locking screw, as long as you’re sure to tighten it all the way (and if you’re an experienced lifter, you already know the importance of doing that). The bell and plates are made from high-quality steel, and the handle (which is cast into the base) is crafted so that it’s comfortable for one-handed use but is big enough for two-handed lifts.
The Groom+Style review team investigated the Kettlebell Combo which comes with the handle and the plates; you can purchase the handle and plates separately, which is a nice feature because the plates are the same ones used for Ironmaster dumbbells; if you already own the company’s dumbbells, all you need to do is purchase the handle and you’re all set.
Looking at the specs of the Ironmaster Quick-Lock Kettlebell 57.5 Pound Combo:
The team at Groom+Style hope you found something to wet your whistle, however, if you are still searching maybe a list of the top 5 best adjustable dumbbells are more your style?