One the most rudimentary yet versatile pieces of fitness equipment is the kettlebell. With origins dating back to 18th-century Russia, the heavy ring-and-ball combo can be employed in a plethora of ways beyond the fundamental kettlebell swing to increase strength, power, endurance, coordination and flexibility.
“The kettlebell is the most effective tool I’ve ever come across,” attests Steve Cotter, elite kettlebell coach and founder of the International Kettlebell and Fitness Federation. “It teaches all the different qualities we want to improve upon in terms of developing well-rounded fitness.”
Of course, a single weight kettlebell isn’t going to carry you to Cotter-level fitness. To get the full effect, you need multiple weights, which can quickly add up in terms of both cost and space. Enter the adjustable kettlebell — a single kettlebell that adjusts to different weights. Most adjustable kettlebells can replace five or six kettlebells through manipulation of weighted plates attached to a center rod.
Cotter himself acknowledges their value, with one caveat: those who desire an authentic kettlebell experience should look for a competition-style kettlebell. This means the handle measurements and placement in relation to the kettlebell body is standardized across all types of kettlebells. “If it’s plastic, let’s push that aside,” he adds. “It’s not a kettlebell.”
However, if your main goal is fitness, the above points become less critical. The most important thing is a sturdy build — one where the weights don’t shift as you move the kettlebell around. If you want to do double-hand-gripped exercises, non-competition options often offer more room to grab as well.
To help you add some 18th-century Russian style to your workout routine, we’ve sorted out the best adjustable kettlebells and accessories you can buy. (Shaving your head and growing a handlebar mustache is optional.)
Best Overall Kettlebell
Made by the company Cotter recommends, this unit employs a simple pull-and-slide system to add and subtract plates and adjust the weight. It lets you heft seven different levels of weight, from 10 pounds to 40 pounds, in five-pound increments. The handle isn’t competition style, but the build is solid and durable. The ease of use, variety of weight options and great price point help this one top the list for beginner and intermediate kettlebell users.
Featuring seven cast-iron plates securely screwed inside a 100-percent steel casing, this kettlebell comes with the Cotter stamp of approval. Similar in look and feel to real competition kettlebells and sturdy as rock, it boasts 18 different weight options between 12 kilograms and 32 kilograms. That top end, just over 70 pounds, is serious business — 30 pounds more than most adjustable kettlebells. The price tag may be hefty, but if you’re serious about training and maybe even competing, no other adjustable kettlebell comes close.
Best Budget Kettlebell
Yes4All brings all the qualities of higher-priced kettlebells into a more affordable package. It uses a dial system to quickly adjust six cast-iron 5-pound weight plates for weight totals of 10 pounds to 40 pounds. The extra-wide powder-coated handle has plenty of room for double-handed movements. The only major downside is the weights don’t lock in as tight as they do with more expensive options.
With a quick twist of the dial, you can adjust the weight on this kettlebell to 8, 12, 20, 25, 35 and 40 pounds. The process is far easier than most, meaning less time adjusting weights, more time working out. It comes with a powder-coated competition-style steel handle and attaches to a plastic shell that houses steel pinned plates. The 840 might have been our top pick if it not for the plastic shell and bulky size. But if you’re focused more on fitness than sport, you can’t go wrong.
Best Affordable Competition-Style Kettlebell
Similar to our Upgrade pick but a bit less pricey, the Titan is ideal for experienced kettlebell users. It features six cast-iron plates secured using a screw thread inside a cast steel container. An Allen wretch allows you to adjust the weight from 12 kilograms to 32 kilograms in 1 kilogram increments, except 13 kg and 31 kg. This kettlebell can withstand a beating too.
Most (Digitally) Connected
Like to geek out on techy fitness gear? With six different weight options ranging from 12 pounds to 42 pounds, the 2.0 version of JaxJox’s KettlebellConnect features intelligent real-time performance tracking and reporting. Connect it with the app and you’ll get stats like reps, volume, sets, workout duration and even average power. Go one step further for $12.99 per month, and you can access on-demand workout classes and personalized Fitness IQ tracking.
Easiest to Store
Unlike other adjustable kettlebells, the PowerBlock uses a pin and magnetic lock to toggle through the 18, 22, 26 and 35-pound configurations. It’s easy and fast. While not as hefty or versatile as some others, it’s one of the most compact and squared-off adjustable kettlebells, making it perfect for those tight on space.
Quickest Competition-Style Kettlebell
Plastic components aside, this kettlebell meets Cotter’s standards — competition-style form factor and no shifting of plates when in use. Similar to the Bowflex 840, it uses a dial to adjust the resistance, quickly and quietly. It comes in three sizes — 16 kilogram, 24 kilogram and 40 pounds (shown) — each with five weight levels. The bottom is rubber, a nice feature to save your floors from scratches.
If you’ve already got weight plates, this handle is an easy and cost-effective way to add kettlebell-like training to your home gym. Made with high-quality stainless steel, it lets you simply slide on weight plates like you would with any weightlifting bar, secure with the screw-in clamp and start swinging. The handle is available in two sizes — one-inch and two-inch — to accommodate different weight plate sizes.
This may be the furthest thing from an authentic kettlebell, but for someone tight on space or budget who already has dumbbells, it’s a pretty clever innovation. Just open the Kettle Gryp like a clam shell, place any standard-grip dumbbell inside and close back up to basically transform it into a makeshift kettlebell.