Kettlebell training seems to be the latest buzzwords on every fitness aficionados lips. It’s a dynamic, ballistic form of training that gets the heart rate revved and challenges even the most impressive muscles.
They’re also simple and [relatively] inexpensive, which is a huge draw for those of us developing our home gyms on a budget. Today, we get the skinny on a specific form of the kettlebell genre and review the best adjustable kettlebells.
|Gold’s Gym Extreme|
|IronMaster Quick-lock||$$$||4.9 /5|
|Empower 3 in 1 adjustable||$||4.7 /5|
|Crossbell Kettlebell||$||4.6 /5|
|PowerBlock Kettle Block||$$||4.6 /5|
|Rocketlock Adjustable Kettlebells||$$$||4.9 /5|
Our Top 10 Adjustable kettlebell Reviews 2017
1. Crossbell Kettlebell
The first thing you will notice about the Crossbell Kettlebell is its attractive price. The second will be that it doesn’t fit the traditional adjustable-plate method used by most adjustable kettlebells.
It’s a cute addition to the line-up, looking something like sports equipment and something like a milk jug, but there’s no doubt it offers a versatile- if not slightly awkward- adjustable weight. With its fillable body design, the Crossbell Kettlebell can be used without filling, or with water, sand, coins and buckshot to take you up to 45 pounds.
Users report overall satisfaction with the handling and price of this incredibly low budget adjustable kettlebell option, and of course, you are only paying for it once- with most other kettlebells, no matter how well constructed, you are forced to purchase progressively heavier weight plates when you need to advance. However, the plastic design has a few flaws, not least of which is a tendency to get slick in sweaty hands. A grip wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Of course, the fact that you can adjust the weight by not filling the unit to the extreme means that you can be faced with shifting weight within the kettlebell, which can be anything from a minor annoyance to a safety risk depending on your preferences and skill level.
While the Crossbell kettlebell is far from the most sophisticated adjustable kettlebell on the market, its attractive price and sturdy construction which makes getting started a breeze.
2. Empower 3 in 1 Adjustable Kettlebell
The click and twist design of this adjustable kettlebell makes it a speedy change, and its stacking design a compact and attractive option. It features a wide grip handle with soft-touch protection, and the body is sand filled. Empowered is a line specifically aimed at the female consumer, and it’s another budget option designed to get you going with minimal fuss.
However, more experienced users may find the unit a little irksome. Its shape gets unwieldy as you expand the kettlebell, and the weight expansion is really limited once you progress past a beginner level. One or two users reported a tendency for the unit to click out during a workout, but this may well be a user error at the assembly as it is not reported with any particular frequency.
Overall, the Empower is a winner for what it’s designed to do- give beginners, particularly women [who are often discouraged from strength training sports] a comfortable way to break into using kettlebells. If you’re looking for a true durable long term buy this isn’t it, and if you need the ability to add considerably heavier weights to your regime it’s not for you.
If, however, you’re looking to get into lifting kettlebells but feel intimidated by the clinical nature and styling of most of the industry, it’s a great budget set to get you going and whet your appetite.
3. PowerBlock Kettle Block
If you’re looking for an adjustable kettlebell stylish enough to leave out for guests to see, the PowerBlock is for you. Its unique design is certainly eye-catching. It’s a hit among Amazon users, too, with even fairly serious athletes finding little bad to say about it. PowerBlock products, in general, have a reputation for solid durability, so the fact that this adjustable kettlebell lives up to the family reputation isn’t as surprising as you might imagine.
Users- even some skilled ones- do caution that the sharp edges on this stylish block can lead to extra painful bruising. Using it on a hard floor such as concrete may lead to damage on the kettlebell as it’s not the most robust kettlebell out there, but users praise its comfortable and large handle easily used by men and women alike, and the ease of changing weights. With an expansion pack, this one will take you right through to 55 pounds.
4. Rocketlock Adjustable Kettlebells
The Rocketlock adjustable kettlebell boasts a profile that’s much more like the traditional kettlebell than any of our previous entries. It’s a solid steel construction and adds weight by means of cylinders, not plates. It is, however, a tool-less design with a constant center of weight no matter what weight combo you use on it.
Some users were put off by the fact that it is a Chinese-manufactured kettlebell, but overall it ticks all the boxes on user satisfaction. It’s a compact unit that’s easy to store, and only limited by the fact that you will max out the weights it can take eventually, at a relatively low 20 and 36 pounds depending on which model you own.
The smaller of the bells gets fair praise from beginners as a great way to embrace the kettlebell movement without being forced to upgrade immediately as your strength gains.
The larger bell is a logical step up from its smaller cousin. Some users do report issues registering for the warranty, although no one particularly mentions needing to use it so this seems like an annoyance rather than an oversight.
5. Stamina Adjustable ‘Versaball’ Kettlebell
Another more traditional kettlebell, the Stamina provides heavier weights for the more serious athlete. Allowing weight increments in 4-pound stages, it’s easy to build on, and offers a sturdy round base that can accommodate body weight for pushups too.
It’s easy to swap in plates, but some users report rattling and some are put off by the plastic parts that it comes with. It is slightly bulkier than non-adjustable kettlebells in its size would be, which may make it less than ideal for enclosed spaces. Some people also feel put off by the number of screws the unit holds.
While many users still preferred a traditional, not adjustable kettlebell over this one at any of its size increments, it remains a solid choice for those looking for a cheaper way to reap the benefits of kettlebells or who need to keep their workout space contained.
6. Gold’s Gym Extreme Kettlebell
While at full size the Gold’s Gym kettlebell resembles a traditional kettlebell, it goes through some awkward shapes and sizes to get there. There’s definitely some assembly required, too, as it is imperative to get the correct plates into the correct areas on the bell.
It’s certainly not the easiest of the adjustable kettlebells on our list, and some are slightly worried by the plastic catch at the top of the bell, but it’s a budget kettle bell about which no one has anything particularly bad to say, and while the early shapes it creates may be less traditional as far as centre of gravity goes, it’s a decent enough offering for the learner and the budget buyer.
7. Mir Adjustable Kettlebell
The wide-handled Mir kettlebell is a stripped-down, no-frills adjustable kettlebell with attitude. It’s wider handle allows one and two hand grip work with relative ease, and it allows upgrades up to 83 pounds, which makes it one of the most adjustable kettlebells on our list. Users do report a more cumbersome routine for plate change than many of the smaller and more limited kettlebells, however, so there is a trade-off in ease of use.
Because it’s a stacking plate shape, as opposed to the traditional round shape, it’s not balanced in the same way as a traditional kettlebell and it can hurt when you bang yourself accidently.
It is, however, a solid and robust specimen that’s near indestructible in most user’s eyes. Users caution that this is not an ideal purchase for a beginner, as the shape is sometimes awkward and not instinctive compared to other kettlebells, and some of the moves cannot as easily be performed.
However, if you’re looking for the widest possible range of weights in an adjustable kettlebell alongside robust construction, the Mir Kettlebell is for you.
8. Performance Fitness Systems
Performance Fitness systems offer a kettlebell that looks more teapot then gym equipment that users either like or loathe. It’s certainly compact, and the arm dimple incorporated into the shape prevents a lot of painful arm scrapes while working out, but not all users are thrilled.
The loud usage sounds may well just be an annoyance, but several users actually report the unit opening and weights dislodging during use. It’s an attractive first time buy due to an excellent price point, but you’re losing out on some of the functionality and safety inherent in other, equally-budget kettlebells on this list [think Rocketlok].
While overall it’s not the most terrible of kettlebells available on the market, it’s also not anything to write home about and needs to be used with care and attention if you opt for this one due to its attractive price tag.
9. CFF Adjustable Russian kettlebell
Russian, in this case, is simply a reference to the traditional style of the kettlebell, not it’s country of origin. The handle is weighted to allow for the absolute beginner, with a quick “lock-in-lock-out” setup for weight changes. It allows you to replace the need for seven standard kettlebell increments, though as several of these are low weights you may not need them unless you are a raw beginner.
Whilst no user took particular offense to the method of plate changing, a few felt that it was made unnecessarily complicated compared to other stack-and-go offerings. This is done, of course, to maintain a constant, traditional kettlebell shape- so it will depend on what matters to you more.
Some mention a slight bite to the plate edges when they make body contact, but that is a feature of most adjustable kettlebells anyway. Users compliment the CFF for a sturdy design but do note that the handle attached via screws that need to be maintained and monitored.
10. IronMaster Quick-lock
One glance at this adjustable kettlebell and you will know where the name comes from. Shaped less like the traditional Russian kettlebell and more like the monstrosity your great-grandma used to use to flatten your pants, the IronMaster looks like a grueling challenge. It offers a very attractive lifetime warranty and a sturdy steel design and can be taken to almost 60 pounds with ease. Users report a good balance and ease of storage that makes this an attractive, if slightly expensive, combination.
The kettlebell set only starts at 20 pounds, however, so it is not a set for the raw beginner, particularly if you are a beginner to strength training overall and not just a beginner to the kettlebell. It's a robust set, however, that does offer a smaller beginners option and an expansion kit for you to maximize the lifetime of your set.
It’s a winner for the cramped home gym environment, and users repeatedly go as far as to call it one of the best adjustable kettlebells available on the market at present, so provided you can handle it, it’s a fabulous combo and a good investment.
Overall, finding the best adjustable kettlebell needs to depend not only on build quality and styling but also your individual needs. Whether you are a raw beginner or a seasoned lifter, however, there’s a perfect adjustable kettlebell out there just for you.
How Does Kettlebell Training Work?
Kettlebells are weights- the best kettlebells are usually cast-iron or steel- that rather resemble a ball with a handle. If you’re a fan of the Olympics, they’re the sport that made Russia famous.
There’s been a revisiting of the sport in the last few years as people re-discover the advantages kettlebell training offers. It targets multiple facets of fitness training- cardio, strength, balance, endurance and agility. All in one piece of equipment!
This may make it sound similar to a dumbbell, but as the grip is different, it leaves you working with a completely different center of gravity- and a totally different set of forces with it. A dumbbell’s center of gravity is inside your hand, making it relatively easy to manipulate. Not so with a kettlebell, where the center of gravity is far outside the point of your grip!
Its use is really simple too. There’s a variety of swings- both single- and double-handed- presses, pulls and more you can perform with the kettlebell, all targeting different areas- some may require core engagement and stability, others power from the legs etc.
It creates a holistic approach to exercise with a mass incorporation of whole body movements often lacking in strength training. Not bad for a little ball of cast iron!
So, What Is An Adjustable Kettlebell?
Traditional kettlebells come in specific weights- usually ranging from 5lbs through 100lbs. They’re incredibly simple, have no parts, and work well- but you’re limited to the one specific weight of the particular kettlebell.
An adjustable kettlebell is, in fact, little more than a kettlebell handle, to which weights of different levels will be attached, enabling you to adjust the kettlebell as you choose.
Why An Adjustable Kettlebell?
One of the major positives of an adjustable kettlebell is that very fact- it adjusts. You can easily manipulate the weight without having to purchase a range of kettlebells. Obviously, that makes it an economical choice and a convenient one if your training routine will be incorporating several different weights, or if you intend to undertake considerable training with it and will be outgrowing a fixed size down the line.
Obviously, this makes them a choice favored by the budget conscious. It’s also excellent for those with limited storage space.
The Downsides To Adjustable Kettlebells
By now, you’re probably thinking that the adjustable kettlebell sounds like a gift from above. Don’t get too excited yet. Whether or not the adjustable kettlebell is for you will depend on a host of factors- of which personal taste is a massive one.
Some people simply don’t get on with the adjustable form of this nifty piece of sports equipment. Despite their pros, some feel that the adjustable format of the kettlebell is too flimsy and unsafe.
This will be very brand-dependant and is basically an indication of quality. Sadly, there are a lot, and we do mean a lot, of poor quality adjustable kettlebells out there, so if you’re interested in one you need to do your homework well.
A good adjustable kettlebell should be neither flimsy nor unsafe, and if you’re interested, you might like to start with the reviews of the user-voted best adjustable kettlebells below to be sure you’re buying a quality one.
However, if you intend the kettlebell to take an even harder hammering than usual, the adjustable kind may not be for you at all. Others complain about the noise sometimes associated with the adjustable weights as they shift during use. There’s also the risk of cracks appearing during use, but that’s again related to quality.
Some trainers are firm advocates of instead investing in a single kettlebell weight that you will be able to make the most use of throughout the years. Remember also that no kettlebell, fixed or adjustable, is for you if you have back and shoulder problems- or at the very least you should only be training in the presence of an instructor.
Picking The Best Adjustable Kettlebell.
There are a few things to consider when purchasing your kettlebell.
- Required range of weights- there will be a range to stick to, it’s impossible to buy an adjustable kettlebell that will take every weight available, so you need to know the range you’re looking for. Know that the average woman usually begins training with a 22-26lbs weight, and men with a 26-30lbs weight.
- Somewhat linked to the above, you also need to look at the weight increases available on each setting of the adjustable kettlebell, to make sure they suit you.
- Size does count, at least for your kettlebell! Be sure you get the right one for you and that you can manage its grip in your hands.
The above considerations are linked mostly to your needs and how you’ll use it. There are a couple of considerations for quality and use that apply to any kettlebell, though.
- Material: What your kettlebell is made of matters. Try and avoid plastic wherever possible- the unit takes too much weight and too much of a pounding for this to be a wise material. Cast iron or steel will always be better choices.
- Warranty– it’s always nice to know you’re covered, especially on any apparatus with moving parts like the adjustable kettlebell.
- Guides– if you need a training guide of DVD to help you start, it’s always nice if you can get it done in one with your purchase.
- Price. Of course, at the end of the day, the price must work with your budget.
Adjustable Kettlebells – F.A.Q
1) Most effective way to use a Kettlebell
Most effective way to use a Kettlebell Kettlebells are all about being dynamic, and that means being able to work motion into your strength training. While they're far from new they're “new again” thanks to Crossfit and these have once again become a popular fitness item. The most effective way to use a kettlebell starts with having the right one.
A cheap bell may not be sturdy enough for some exercises and you'll want one that has sufficient weight. Adjustable bells are also a great choice as your strength increases so you won't have to invest in multiple tools and can still use it for different exercises.
You should be able to press the bell over your head with stability and total control but still feel some resistance otherwise the weight isn't heavy enough. If you haven't got control you risk dropping it on your head and that's too heavy.
Make sure the handle is wide enough that your fingers wrap within a couple of inches to your palm. There's also no point in the vinyl coating as it doesn't protect your floors and just wears off. Once you have the right tool you're guaranteed a better workout.
When working out with a kettlebell it's incredibly important to have your back in the right position. Since you're using dynamic motion it's easy to shift your weight wrong and damage muscles so your spine needs to remain in neutral position as much as possible. To achieve this stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms relaxed to the side.
Focus straight ahead to keep your neck in place. Lean your butt backwards as if you are about to sit on a chair and have your arms and hands follow but keep your head up. Your body should form a natural S curve.
This means you're less likely to get injured no matter what workout you do. When you finally put the kettlebell in motion you'll want to use your hips a lot so make sure your clothes are flexible or baggy.
In neutral spine make sure your feet are well planted and let your hips start whatever motion you're doing and then force the motion into the ground through your feet with a snap. Your weight should stay on your heels and you should keep your abs tight.
2) Workout Samples
Kettlebells are used for strength and flexibility training and have been around a long time. They are unique in that they can be used for a much greater variety of exercises than dumbbells or barbells. You want to try not to rest between exercises too much as this keeps the intensity high and you can do the routine several times to make it harder as your conditioning goes up or simply increase the weight.
You can easily do a full body workout using only kettlebells and it's a great way to build muscle, get great conditioning and lose fat. The ideal workout routine with kettlebells:
- Lower Body
- Upper Body
- Full Body
You'll want to have about 30 seconds rest between each exercise. The reason this works is that you're working on a curve with the difficulty. Lower body and core exercises are not as intense as those of full body or bodyweight so you're picking up the intensity as you go and winding down before you even get to your cooldown period.
This helps avoid injury and gives you a greater likelihood of completing the entire routine since you'll only quit if it's too difficult right off.
The reason this workout is so effective is that it's got a bit of everything and you'll work every muscle group for a total body burn. It can also be broken down into a 5 day cycle while you focus on a different group each day. Following this routine pattern you can do 12-20 reps of each exercise with a 30 second rest between:
Kettlebell Pullthroughs – these work the muscles on the back of the body such as the glutes and hamstrings. You do these by putting your back to the bell with your feet hip width apart. Then you bend at the waist and reach through your legs to grab the handle. You then explosively pull the bell through your legs and upright with the bell held out with straight arms.
Kettlebell Push Ups– There are two variations of the kettlebell push up one uses the bell as a handle so that your upper body is raised further and your shoulders have negative extension when you reach down to the floor, you can then vary this with one hand or by twisting the bell around as you raise/lower yourself. This works the pecs, delts, triceps, serratus, coracobrachialis and the abs all together.
Kettlebell Clean & Press – This is a two part move that works the lower back, glutes and hamstrings in the clean and then the pecs, deltoids, serratus, and triceps in the press. The motion starts with the feet hip width apart and the kettlebell between them. Lean down and grab the bell with one hand then bend at the knee and bring it upwards with a hip thrust keeping the momentum to the body until it is at chest height in a rack position. Then press the barbell upwards with a twisting motion. Bring the barbell down and return it to the original position
Lunges and Reaches – while the standard lunges and reaches will work both upper and lower body together you can also change them up to something called a kettlebell Turkish Get-up. This works the shoulders, triceps, abs, quads, and hamstrings together in one move.
Start by laying on the ground with the bell at rack position, extend your arm fully then bend the corresponding knee with your foot on the floor. Sit up and place your other hand on the floor for support as you move forwards bending the other knee under you.
From this position stand, keeping your arm raised above with the bell the entire time. Alternating snatches are also a great full body workout and these work the lower back, trapezius, triceps, shoulders, calves, glutes, and hamstrings.
Kettlebell Twists – one of the easiest kettlebell moves this works the lower back and abs only. Sit with your legs bent and your feet flathold the bell with both hands at hip height to one side then raise it to your chest, twist your torso from left to right with your legs bent and feet raised. Repeat as many times as you want
3) History of the Kettlebell
he kettlebell at it's most basic is a cast iron weight with a handle. It's sheer weight and is designed for strength training alone. They were originally developed in Russia somewhere around the 1700s and were originally called Girya and used for weighing crops.
Farmers would use them during festivals as a show of strength which was then used for military purposes as part of army PT. Since the 1940s they've become popular all over the world especially with strongmen.
Similar designs existed before the 18thcentury and can be seen as early as 5th century in the Grecian Haltere which was used for similar exercises and the Shaolin monks use of a stone padlock. There are four styles of lifting that use kettlebells which have evolved over time.
The original Hardsyle focused solely on raw strength and power and is part of powerlifting training. Girevoy is a more fluid style and is commonly used as a training regimen with a combination of strength and endurance.
Juggling is the practice of using kettlebells as a training tool for circus or acrobatics and dates back to when they were used as a circus prop for strongmen. This involves moves that release and catch the bell with various moves that spin the weight around the body or the body around the weight. Crossfit is the newest and uses the kettlebell as a tool for the crossfit curriculum.
4) Kettlebells vs Dumbbells
While dumbbells an be considered to be dead weight also the kettlebell has an entirely different and more user friendly design. The center of mass for a kettlebell sits directly under the handle which makes ballistic movements much easier and extends beyond the hand. It allows greater safety with swing moves and better grip in the wrist and arm for strength.
They have a unique shape that provides an unstable distribution of weight since the mass is concentrated at the bottom which helps make the workout more effective. These are the better choice when it comes to strength training because they are more effective but the motions necessary to make them such are harder.
They are also better for grip strength because the handle is thicker which in turn makes them more challenging to hold. On the other hand when you're working with basic movements dumbbells are actually more effective.
They're ideal for moves like a chest or shoulder press where you don't need to be swinging the weight and in fact, doing so may cause injury. These are much better for beginners too who need to get basic movements down before adding swings and motion in or those who lack proper instruction since t he kettlebell is much easier to cause an injury with while in motion. Both tools are pretty effective, so it's really a question of what you need them for and what results you're looking to get.