There are many different kinds of kettlebells on the market and it can be confusing as to which type to purchase or use at the gym. The most common ones can be cast iron, steel competition, rubber, vinyl or plastic. Whichever kind you use, you can use the guidelines below to help you find the most effective one.
Things to look for
- Handle diameter. Make sure this is not too small as this can cause undue finger and wrist strain, but make sure it is not too big which will not allow you to wrap your fingers around it comfortably.
- Handle width. This should be wide enough so that both hands can hold the handle which is especially important whilst performing 2 handed exercises.
- This may sound silly but make sure they are the actual weight stated on them. If you have purchased one, you can put it on a scale to verify. If it is not correct, take it back to the merchant with a few choice words (optional).
- Flat base. This is important to make sure they sit flush and remain stable on flat surfaces.
- Handle texture. This should not be too smooth (so it does not fly/fall out of your hands) or too rough (so it does not mess up your hand skin). If the kettlebell was manufactured by fixing separate pieces together, there could be a seem on the handle’s underside. Check for this to make sure it is not too prominent which can cause discomfort.
Iron Vs Vinyl
2 of the most common types of kettlebells are iron and vinyl. Both have pros and cons. Vinyl covered ones will not rust and are good for use indoors as they probably will not mess up your floors and walls, but as you increase the weight you use, they more than likely still will. They can also get more slippery than iron ones when your hands are sweaty which could be dangerous if they slip out mid-exercise. They are easy to clean but the vinyl can peel and crack off. The paint on iron ones could chip but they are easy to repaint. Price wise, vinyl ones are usually cheaper but can be less robust as iron ones are fully made of metal but vinyl ones are usually filled with concrete / ballast so if they are dropped it can break up inside.
It comes down to personal preference. But when it comes to kettlebells, I do prefer iron. Another (irrelevant) reason for this is I also prefer to say that I am pumping iron rather than pumping vinyl. For a good all-round kettlebell, you cannot go too wrong with cast iron.
There are also competition kettlebells. These are made from steel so even more durable than the iron ones. All competition kettlebells are the same size, regardless of weight. So a change in weight will not affect your technique as the size will remain constant. These are more expensive than vinyl and iron though. If you are serious about competing and cost is not an issue, competition kettlebells are the ones you should go for.