Kettlebells are one of the best fitness tools you can add to your home gym, but unlike, say, dumbbells, their uses aren’t as obvious. The awkward handle design means doing pushups on them is tricky, and kettlebell swings can be intimidating, not to mention easy to mess up.
But, if you’re looking for one tool to take your training sessions up a notch, the kettlebell is an excellent place to start. With just one you can work your glutes, arms, abs, legs and more.
“The beauty of kettlebell training is that each session can vary enough that one can train every day or six days a week if the load, intensity and length of the workout changes,” says Lacee Lazof, certified personal trainer and instructor of Bells Up for NEOU, a fitness app focusing on video.
To start, look for a kettlebell with an iron handle. It doesn’t need to be rubber coated — although that adds a layer of protection to your hands, and your floors — and start light. “Start with double 8 to 12 kilos, and a large bell of 18 to 24 kilograms,” Lazof says. Check out five hard-to-beat brands below.
Editor’s note: Due to the rampant interest in home workouts brought on by COVID-19, demand far outweighs supply with many kettlebell products. So if one below catches your eye, grab it asap — or sign up to be notified when it will again be in stock.
Best Sturdy Grip Kettlebells
Kettlebell Kings are some of Lazof’s favorites. The weights come with a lifetime guarantee and feature a powder coating that will hold up to chalk (typically used in the weight room or at the CrossFit Box to keep a firm hold of the KB). These kettlebells start at 5 pounds and go up to 100 pounds. With that kinda range, you’ll be pushing your limits for years to come.
AmazonBasics Cast Iron Kettlebells
Most Affordable Kettlebells
These best-selling kettlebells are simple but effective. The AmazonBasics cast iron material’s black exterior helps improve the life of the KBs. The wide grip and weight options from 10 to 70 pounds make these work for a wide range of people, exercises and goals. They also happen to be some of the most affordable ones out there.
Rogue Rubber Coated Kettlebells
Most Comfortable Grip Kettlebells
Rogue makes some of the toughest gym equipment on the market today, including these powerful kettlebells. Weights range from 26 to 70 pounds, each with a rubber-coated base and metal handle. The colors denote the weight, so once you get used to them, you won’t have to squat down to see what you’re lifting.
Jaxjox Kettlebell Connect
Best Kettlebell for Tracking Your Reps
Never count another rep again with Jaxjox’s Kettlebell Connect. We tested last year and were impressed with how quickly this KB changed weights. Move from 12 to 18 to 24 to 32 to 40 in just three seconds. Press the button, let it whirl and then get going with your workout. Bonus: All your reps and sets get logged in the app.
Onnit Darth Vader
Best Statement Kettlebells
Onnit makes unique kettlebells that are sure to turn heads thanks to designs inspired by Star Wars, zombies and, well, primates. If you’re looking for a broader range of weights and something more accessible for beginners, check out the everyday black spheres. But if you want something that’s 36 to 70 pounds and roars, the weights with personality are for you.
Once you have the perfect kettlebells for your home gym, it’s time to put them to work. Lazof recommends a five-move routine that you can do a few hours before a run or on a training day where you’re not going to the gym or doing cardio. Try these five moves: Goblet March, Goblet Squat, Goblet Clean, Half-Kneeling Press and a Bent-Over Row. Each movement can be done in a ladder format of 1/2/3 reps (resting between each set of reps) for 5 to 8 rounds depending on time and difficulty of weight selection. So you’ll do one rep, rest for one breath, do two reps, rest for two breaths, do three reps, and so on. Typically you’ll stop at 9 or 10 reps, depending on your time and how fatigued you feel. You can do this routine three to four times each week.
Hold the KB at your chest, hands on either side of the triangle-like handle and elbows tight to sides. The handle should be right under or by your chin. Stand with feet together and march, bringing your right knee to hip height, returning it to the ground, then left knee for 1 rep. If too difficult, widen your stance and then work up through the 10 reps.
Hold the KB at your chest (same as Goblet March) and stand with feet wider than your hips, toes pointing out. Bend knees and squat down, keeping chest and the KB perpendicular to the floor. Lower as far as you can go (whether that’s when the back of your thighs hits your calves or when your thighs are parallel to the ground). Stand up for 1 rep. Repeat and work up through the 10 reps.
Start in a squat, holding the top of the KB handle between your legs with the KB off the ground. Stand, using your glutes and keeping your back straight while quickly pulling the KB to your chin, snapping your hands from the top of the handle to the sides to end standing. Reverse and slowly lower the KB just above the ground, returning to a squat for 1 rep. Repeat and work up through the 10 reps.
Half Kneeling Press
Begin in a lunge with your right knee on the ground behind you. Keeping your elbow tight to your chest, hold the KB in your right hand, resting near your right shoulder to start. Keep your lower body still and push your right hand up to the ceiling. Slowly lower back to your shoulder for 1 rep. Repeat and work up through 10 reps on both sides.
Bent Over Row
Stand with feet staggered, one kettlebell in each hand. Bend at your hips and hinge forward until your chest is parallel to the ground with arms extended. Turn palms toward each other and pull KBs to your chest. Lower the KBs for 1 rep. Repeat and work up through the 10 reps.