14 Different Models From 9 Of The Top Kettlebell Brands: Which of These Pro-Grade, Competition-Style Kettlebells Is Right For You?
If you’re in the market for a new kettlebell and you’re not sure which one would be best for your unique needs, goals, and budget, this review will help narrow down your options, and hopefully, help you choose just the right one.
In this kettlebell review, you’ll learn:
- Which companies sell the highest quality kettlebells
- Which companies sell the most budget-friendly kettlebells
- Which companies sell the highest value kettlebells (i.e. the best for the money)
- Which kettlebells are best for kettlebell athletes or those interested in competing in kettlebell sport
- Which companies have the most customer-friendly policies and provide the best customer service experience
Note: all of these are itemized for quick reference below the review videos (see below).
Kettlebells Brands & Models That Were Tested For This Review
The following competition kettlebells were evaluated for this review:
- Rogue Fitness – 16 kg Rogue Competition Kettlebell (black w/ yellow rings)
- Perform Better – 24 kg First Place Competition Kettlebell (light green), 16 kg First Place Competition Kettlebell (older model, yellow)
- Kettlebell Kings – 24 kg Kettlebell Sport Competition Kettlebell (dark green), 20 lb Steel Standard Kettlebell (black w/ pink rings)
- Kettlebells USA – 20 kg Paradigm Pro® Elite Competition Kettlebell (purple), 12 kg Paradigm Pro® Classic Kettlebell (blue)
- Vulcan Strength – 16 kg Vulcan® Absolute™ Competition Kettlebell (light yellow), 16 kg Vulcan® Absolute™ Training Kettlebell Version 2.0 (black)
- Eleiko – 32 kg Eleiko Competition Kettlebell (red)
- Christian’s Fitness Factory – 16 kg CFF Competition Kettlebell (yellow)
- Rage Fitness – 16 kg Rage Competition Kettlebell (yellow)
- The World Kettlebell Club – 32 kg VF Precision Kettlebell (red), 28 kg Pro-Grade Competition Kettlebell (orange) – both are older models that have been discontinued
Who am I and why am I doing this kettlebell review?
Hi, I’m John Sifferman. I’ve been a fitness coach for the last ten years and have been training with kettlebells a little longer than that. I am not a kettlebell training guru or a kettlebell athlete, and never have been (nor do I aspire to be!). But I’ve enjoyed using kettlebells for many years now. I was also a CST-certified Kettlebell Specialist from 2009 to 2013 through RMAX International and have taught kettlebell training to some of my fitness clients. So, I may not be a guru, but I do know my way around a kettlebell.
Note: you can learn more about me, my work, and my professional credentials on the About page.
I’m doing this review, first and foremost, to help YOU figure out which kettlebell to buy. And the second reason is because I enjoy reviewing fitness products. I’ve been doing this for years (see the Product Reviews archive). And so, when a one-of-a-kind opportunity to review some sweet kettlebells presented itself, I jumped on it.
You see, this past summer, someone from KettlebellKings.com contacted me via Twitter asking if I had any plans to update my kettlebell review from a few years ago. I said, “no, but now that you mention it, that’s not a bad idea. Would you send me a free kettlebell to review?” And they said, “sure, we’ll send you two!” That’s a paraphrase of the story, but you get the gist of it.
After that, I reached out to ALL of the major companies that sell pro-grade, competition-style kettlebells in the USA. After dozens of emails, a few phone calls, and a little negotiating in some cases, I ended up with fourteen different kettlebell models from nine different companies for this review.
A couple of those kettlebells literally took months to procure (many emails and follow-ups, waiting for a shipment from Europe, etc.). But I did everything I could to procure as many models as possible for this review. And once they arrived, I got to work in my fitness laboratory (i.e. my home gym).
My Unique Kettlebell Review and Testing Protocol
I used a comprehensive point system to rate and rank the kettlebells in this review. I rated them in each of the following categories:
- Quality (finish, handle, etc.)
- Fit & Feel (very subjective!)
- Performance during basic KB exercises (e.g. swing, clean, press, snatch, etc.)
- Prices, Selection, and Package Discounts
- Warranty & Refund Policies
- Overall Customer Service Experience
For the actual testing, I simply did a lot of kettlebell training over the last few months using a program I designed myself. I’ve done thousands of swings, cleans, Turkish get-ups, snatches, press and jerk variations, and several other traditional kettlebell exercises. I did straight sets, circuit sets, timed sets, and density training protocols.
I also tested the kettlebells with the TACFIT Kettlebell Spetsnaz and Kettlebell Powerformance programs (i.e. twice a week, for six weeks), which are some of the best kettlebell training programs currently available, in my opinion. Both include many unconventional kettlebell exercises to help you make the most of this gear and train the whole body in not just three dimensions, but also through all six degrees of freedom. So, these kettlebells were rigorously tested throughout a broad range of activities.
All that said, this review process was not very scientific mainly because I didn’t feel that I needed several months or years to evaluate these tools. Plus, once you get beyond the quality and design considerations, one of the biggest factors is the product’s fit and feel, which is very subjective and personal to the user.
Interesting Things I’ve Learned
I’ve learned a lot throughout this process, including some very interesting things:
- There are significant differences between kettlebells of very similar designs, pricing, and specifications – in quality, finish, fit, and function, among other things – some of which I never would have expected.
- You usually get what you pay for…but not always!
- There is a lot of drama inside the kettlebell business (which I will spare you from).
- It’s a good time to be buying kettlebells because there are more good choices than ever.
So, here is my brief video review of all of these kettlebells where I “show and tell” my top kettlebell choices…
SUMMARY of My Top Choices: Kettlebell Review – Video 1
Now, if you’d like even more detail, and don’t mind hearing me blab a bit, feel free to watch the extended version below for some additional information (or just scroll down to see my top choices for kettlebells)…
Extended Kettlebell Review with Extra Details – Video 2
0:00 Intro, Background Story
5:10 How the Kettlebells are Arranged
8:10 Highest Quality Kettlebells
17:00 Budget Friendly Kettlebells
21:40 Highest Value Kettlebells
23:35 Best Kettlebells for Kettlebell Sport Athletes
25:15 Best Customer Service Experiences
The Best Kettlebells That Money Can Buy
Below, you’ll see a directory of my top kettlebell choices, arranged in different categories, along with some of my notes about them. For the sake of brevity, I decided to leave a lot of my notes out of this review. I’ve only included what I think would be most helpful to serious buyers.
Please note that other than my number one choice (which stood out from the very beginning), it was very difficult to rank these kettlebells in order of my preference because many of them were very close. Fortunately, my point system came to the rescue.
So, when I took EVERYTHING into consideration – the quality of the kettlebell, product selection, prices, customer service experience, etc. here’s who came out on top…
#1 Choice: Kettlebells USA
Kettlebells USA – Paradigm Pro ® Elite models
If someone asked me where they should buy their kettlebells, I’d send them to KettlebellsUSA.com first – no question.
Their kettlebells are some of the highest quality I’ve ever used (i.e. durability, fit and feel, finish, handle, etc.). And yet, they still have some of the best prices available. They also carry a full selection of kettlebells (i.e. all weights, including “in-between” sizes), and they offer many package discounts to save you as much money as possible.
Plus, they have some of the most customer-friendly policies in the industry (e.g. free shipping, lifetime warranty, free returns for full refund, no restocking fees, etc.), and they went above and beyond when it came to my customer service experience.
So, when I tally up all of the different ratings I assigned to the various categories in my point system for this review, it’s no surprise why KettlebellsUSA.com is my top choice. And quite frankly, I knew they would be one of the top choices as soon as I got them out of the box.
So, if you want a great kettlebell, at a great price, from a great company, you can’t go wrong with Kettlebells USA. They offer some of the highest-value kettlebells available.
#2 Choice: Kettlebell Kings (Runner-Up)
KettlebellKings.com was a VERY close second choice. And I can safely say that almost anyone would be happy with their kettlebells as well. They have a great selection of very high quality kettlebells at affordable prices. They also had exceptional customer service all throughout my review process – they went above and beyond. So, the difference between the top two spots came down to a slight edge in quality, price, and fit/feel (i.e. very subjective).
You can’t go wrong with either of these companies. So, just pick one and start shopping.
Highest Quality Kettlebells
Note: if you are a kettlebell athlete or plan to compete in kettlebell sport someday, I’d stick with the kettlebells from these companies.
Vulcan Strength Training Systems – Vulcan® Absolute™ Competition Kettlebells are among the highest quality that I’ve ever used. They originally sent me one of their “Training Kettlebells”. And early on in this review process, I learned that it was one of my favorites, even though it was a lower grade kettlebell compared to their competition model. So, I asked them for one of their competition models to compare, and they promptly sent one. I’m glad they did, because it’s right up there with the best of them! So, if you’re in the market for some of the best kettlebells that money can buy, and don’t mind paying a little more than you would elsewhere, check out VulcanStrength.com. Also, those with large hands or who like to do two-handed kettlebell exercises (e.g. two-handed swings) may prefer the wider handle that Vulcan offers.
Eleiko – I only had about two weeks to evaluate Eleiko’s kettlebell because they shipped me a new prototype via freighter from Sweden, which took several weeks to arrive. Their new, updated models will be available in the USA very soon. This kettlebell is one of the highest quality, particularly because of its finish, and the handle. Also, my customer service experience with them was among the best – very prompt, professional, and helpful. You’ll pay a little more for Eleiko kettlebells than the other companies above, and they don’t have quite as good of a selection, but the quality is there.
Note: I believe that all four companies in this category have professional kettlebell athletes who use or endorse their kettlebells. I’m not surprised that Kettlebells USA and Kettlebell Kings made it onto this list since they specialize in kettlebells. But I was pleasantly surprised that both Eleiko and Vulcan produce such high quality models since they also manufacture many other types of fitness equipment.
New Kettlebell Design: Hollow Core Kettlebells With No Filler
Kettlebells USA claims to have pioneered a new kettlebell design that they call their “Inner Core Technology™,” which results in “the original & finest ‘no filler competition kettlebell’ (Source).” I spoke with the company’s Vice President, Alex King, about this new design. He told me that it produces a kettlebell with superior balance and no interior rattle. He also said that it results in less strain on the body, and I’ve found that to be true while comparing them with the others.
You’ll know that a kettlebell has a hollow core with no filler if it has an opening on the bottom, like this…
I’ve found that I can do more reps, more easily, and with less strain by using this new design – recommended!
Kettlebells with this new design are currently available from Kettlebells USA (Paradigm Pro Elite series), Kettlebell Kings (Sport series), and Vulcan Strength (both their training and competition kettlebells are hollow core), which is yet another reason why I can recommend these companies.
Most Budget-Friendly Kettlebells (i.e. inexpensive, but not cheap)
1st choice: Kettlebells USA – Paradigm Pro Classic Kettlebells – The best quality in the “bargain bin” at competitive prices.
2nd choice: Perform Better First Place Elite Competition kettlebells – If you catch them during one of their frequent sales, you can get a good kettlebell at some of the best prices I’ve ever seen.
3rd choice: Christian’s Fitness Factory – had the lowest prices during this review period, decent quality.
4th choice: Kettlebell Kings: Steel Standard Kettlebells – decent quality at competitive prices, but no weights heavier than 60 pounds.
Other Kettlebells Not Mentioned Above
Rogue Fitness Kettlebells – I’m both surprised and disappointed to say that the kettlebell I bought from Rogue was not one of my preferred choices mainly because it didn’t fit me well. Something about the size and shape of the handle made it different than what I’m used to. Otherwise, it’s a good quality kettlebell. And it does represent a niche product because out of all the kettlebells I reviewed, Rogue’s is the only one made out of iron. And I know some kettlebell lifters prefer the feel of iron over steel, and might want the benefits of a standardized, competition-style kettlebell with universal dimensions.
Rage Fitness Kettlebells – To make a long story short, I had a very long and drawn out customer service experience with Rage. They were very enthusiastic about the review, and always kind and courteous, but it took over two months to actually get one of their kettlebells delivered to me. And unfortunately, when it arrived, it was damaged (click here for photo – notice the two grooves in the handle). They were not willing to send a replacement. And I can’t blame them because they had already sent a separate kettlebell that never arrived (i.e. they don’t know what happened to it). Other than the damage, the kettlebell is of decent quality, but definitely not up to par with the others, I’m afraid.
World Kettlebell Club Kettlebells – The WKC sent me a couple of kettlebells for review purposes years ago (see the original review here). And I had intended to include them again in this updated review since they’re some of the best models I’ve used. However, I learned recently that they have been discontinued. If you can find a new or used model in good condition somewhere, they’ll serve you well.
Why I Only Use and Recommend Competition-Style Kettlebells Even Though I’m Not a Kettlebell Athlete and Have Never Competed in Kettlebell Sport
In 2009, after years of using traditional, iron kettlebells (AKA standard or “Russian-style”), I switched to competition-style kettlebells (AKA sport, steel, or pro-grade kettlebells) – and I haven’t gone back in the last 7+ years.
Here’s why I only recommend competition kettlebells to my clients:
- With pro-grade, competition-style, steel-constructed kettlebells, all of the different weights are the same size (i.e. standardized dimensions) – so a lightweight 8 kg kettlebell (19 lbs) is the same size/shape/dimensions as a heavy 32 kg kettlebell (70 lbs). This allows for easier progressions while increasing weight, without having to adjust your exercise technique.
- Competition-style kettlebells have a more ergonomic design, which is safer and healthier for your joints and connective tissues (e.g. especially the forearms, wrists, hands, and fingers)
- Competition kettlebells are usually made of stronger, higher quality materials (i.e. made of steel instead of iron) and to higher manufacturing standards
- They’re not much more expensive than iron kettlebells, and sometimes, they can even be had for less money
- Competition kettlebells are accepted in kettlebell sport because they are a superior training tool
The bottom line: I want to use the best tool for the job. And a tool that is more consistent, safer, healthier, stronger, and affordable is best. That said, if you’re only going to use your kettlebells very rarely or only for the most basic exercises (e.g. swings, goblet squats, etc.), then a traditional iron kettlebell will probably serve you just fine.
Which Weight Should I Buy?
- Poor fitness level (No training experience, recent rehabilitation from injuries, small build) – 12-16 kg
- Average fitness level (Some training experience, healthy, moderate build) – 16-20 kg
- Excellent fitness level (High training experience, healthy, large build, athletic background) – 20-24 kg
- Poor fitness level (No training experience, recent rehabilitation from injuries, small build) – 8-12 kg
- Average fitness level (Some training experience, healthy, moderate build) – 12-16 kg
- Excellent fitness level (High training experience, healthy, large build, athletic background) – 16-20 kg
I want to offer a BIG THANKS to all of the companies who agreed to send me free product samples to make this review possible (see below for the complete list). I couldn’t have done it without you, and I hope you feel that this kettlebell review does your products justice!
Finally, I want to thank YOU for reading this review all the way through! I hope it was helpful. And if so, please share it with your fellow kettlebell friends.
And by the way, if you decide to order some kettlebells after reading my review, I have a gift for you…
*If you order kettlebells through one of my referral links, please send me a copy of your receipt and I’ll send you a free gift: The 7 Key Components of the Kettlebell Swing (coaching video). Just forward your confirmation email containing your receipt to physical (dot) living [at] gmail (dot) com and I’ll reply with your gift. Thank you for supporting my work here at PhysicalLiving.com!
If you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends:
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***Important Note: Product research, testing, and evaluation for this review was conducted between August and November 2016.***
At my request, the following companies agreed to send me free product samples, for review purposes – with no guarantees or assurances other than that a fair review would be provided:
- World Kettlebell Club
Note: RogueFitness.com politely declined to send me a free product sample. So, I decided to buy one of their kettlebells for this review anyway.