Are cheap kettlebells the best buy?

Are cheap Kettlebells the best buy?

I review a lot of Calisthenics products.

Quite often I'm comparing the available options for that product, like best Resistance bands

One of the things I always find asking myself is, as a buyer, is there any reason why I can't just buy the cheapest one?

When it comes to resistance bands, I'd say the different band types can be functionally very different, so shop wisely. 

When it comes to push-up grips, especially if you want to use them for handstands, I'd say 100% don't go for the cheapest. I learned that one from personal experience.... it hurt!

But with kettlebells, I've asked a few friends "what made you choose that one?".

Their answer?

"I just looked up kettlebells on Amazon, sorted by price low to high, then chose the first set that looked up to a good enough standard".

Honestly, I don't see any problem with that.

Functionally they're all very similar when it boils down to it, and since you're not using them to sort any bodyweight, you don't have to worry about potential hazards, such as you would with a pull-up bar, set of rings, or parallettes for example. 

So go for it. 

With that in mind, I can't simply end a post like that. I know everybody wants to read some insights into the various kettlebells available. 

However cheap, each still has its own advantages and disadvantages.

What do I need to buy when shopping for Kettlebells? Is one Kettlebell enough?

You'll want to purchase at least two kettlebells, a lighter one and a heavier one, to ensure you have the appropriate weight for the exercises you are trying to do.

You may, for example, want a lighter weight for shoulder presses and Turkish get-ups, but require a heavier weight for squats and swings.

Luckily, most sellers offer a full range of kettlebell weights, starting from 2kg and increasing in further 2kg increments, all the way up to 20kg.

For the best kettlebells I'd recommend the following:

York Fitness Vinyl Kettlebells - Great value and offer a complete range, with prices from roughly £7.50 for the 2kg kettlebell to £39 for the 20kg kettlebell.

Gold Coast Cast Iron Kettlebells - These kettlebells are slightly cheaper than York Fitness, at just £5.99 for the 2kg kettlebell, but they don't offer a full range of weights.

PROIRON Cast Iron Kettlebells - Great quality solid cast iron kettlebells which go as high as 32kg.

DKN Vinyl Kettlebell set - For those unsure of what to buy and looking for a beginner set, I'd highly recommend DKN. They offer four kettlebells (2kg, 4kg, 6kg and 8kg) for just £33.49.

What should I be looking out for when buying a Kettlebell?

As you may have figured out from the above-recommended products, kettlebells typically fall into two categories: Vinyl or Cast Iron.

Vinyl Kettlebells - Advantages and Disadvantages?

York Vinyl Kettlebells

The best thing about vinyl kettlebells are their price since they usually cost less than their cast iron counterparts, but they do have a cheaper feel to them.

There are a couple of disadvantages I personally experience with them:

  • Lack of grip - If you're getting your sweat on (and I hope you are!), then plastic grips can get quite slippery
  • Comfort with cheap plastic sealing - With very cheap vinyl kettlebells I've found that the plastic sealing causes a very small ridge where the kettlebell is sealed together, and when I use a kettlebell for exercises where I pull it up over my body, then the seal can graze your skin slightly

Again, if price beats quality then I'd have no problem recommending a Vinyl kettlebell.

Cast Iron Kettlebells - Advantages and Disadvantages?

Cast Iron Kettlebells

As I'm sure you may have already guessed, the main advantage to cast iron kettlebells is their quality. Many people also find the traditional element of a cast iron kettlebell appealing.

The downsides to a cast iron kettlebell are that they can get very cold when training outdoors in winter, and they are usually all the same finish/colour, which makes it hard to see the various weights at a glance. This also isn't helped by the fact that many manufacturers make them very minimal and simply engrave the weight into each one, making it hard to read.

I think the answer to both of these issues is a neoprene finish alternative, such as the JLL Neoprene Covered Cast Iron Kettlebells which offer the quality of a cast iron kettlebell, but with a much more modern and comfortable coloured neoprene finish.

Are Kettlebells the first purchase of your home gym?

Great start!

But what else do you need?

Check out our new guide; How to build your own calisthenics gym at home, for tips and further ideas on how to turn your own home into your own fitness sanctuary!