Are these in-demand workout weights actually worth your time and money?
Getting fit is the USA’s most popular New Year’s resolution. And what’s not to love about feeling strong and healthy?
Exercise comes in a plethora of shapes and sizes, with strength training being incredibly popular in Northern America right now. It offers a vast array of health benefits that have absolutely nothing to do with visible muscle growth. Plus, with the right equipment… you can do it in your own home.
Kettlebells are strength training weights that can be used for building muscle, growing endurance, improving flexibility and burning fat. They’re generally rounded in shape, with a sturdy handle on top. Most kettlebells come in a particular size, and you have swap out your kettlebell for a whole new, heavier one as your weightlifting capacity increases. However… adjustable kettlebells are all-in-one packages that offer several different weights in a single item.
So, we know what you’re here for today. You want the tea on adjustable kettlebells. Do they function properly? And what’s the best kettlebell your hard-earned pennies can acquire for you? In this article, we’re going to review six wildly popular adjustable kettlebells. We’ll analyze and compare them based on aspects like price, durability, weight range, comfortable use and ease of adjustment. Then, we’ll finish up with some handy tips on how to know when you’re ready to up that weight.
Best Adjustable Kettlebells: Our Review
Here are the kettlebells we’ll be comparing here.
- Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Kettlebell
- POWERBLOCK Adjustable Kettlebell
- Apex Adjustable Heavy-Duty Kettlebell
- Titan Fitness Adjustable Kettlebell
- Stamina Adjustable Kettle Versa-Bell
- REP FITNESS Adjustable Powder-coated Kettlebell
Not all adjustable kettlebells are built equal. While these models may be popular, they have different capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. Let’s jump into an in-depth analysis.
Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Kettlebell
This ingenious weight can by adjusted simply by turning a marked dial on the unit’s top. Here’s how it works: while the weight is resting in its cradle, before you’ve picked it up, select the weight you want to exercise with using the dial. Then, when you pick the kettlebell up, only the weight you want comes with you – all the rest of it remains in the cradle.
The weight range on this thing is enviable: it can go from 8 to 40 pounds. There are six steps here – besides the 8 and 40 pound options you can choose 12, 20, 25 and 35 pounds, which is a decent variety. This means that whether you’re a man or a woman, incredibly fit or just beginning on your fitness journey, the Bowflex kettlebell will suit your weight needs. Essentially, it can see you through, right from your first time picking up a kettlebell, to getting ready for a fitness championship.
The handle is really comfy, too. It’s round (which is ideal for those swinging exercises), big enough to accommodate both hands for double-handed exercises, and there’s enough space between handle and weight that your knuckles won’t get into any painful accidents. The girth is a good thickness – you can wrap your fingers right around it – and it’s entirely smooth: not even the connection between the handle and body has any sharp edges that could potentially pinch or cut.
There’s nothing to complain about regarding the shape of the body, either. There are no pieces that stick out, and no prominent sharp edges. The oval shape is ideal for exercises where you’re holding the weight above your head: round kettlebells tend to press into your arms. The base is flat, with shallow feet, so it should stand securely, and leave no marks on your floors. The only potential problem here is a narrow rubber band around the middle of the body, which has the slight potential to scrape skin or clothing.
As far as materials go: the plates are metal, but keep in mind that the dial on top is plastic. While this dial is somewhat protected by its placement under the handle, workout weights are meant for heavy duty physical use and should be able to withstand rigorous wear and tear. It would be a pity to have to replace the entire package because one plastic component cracked.
This kettle bell ties with the REP FITNESS weight for the title of second most expensive model on this list. Overall, though, I can see why it has made waves in the strength training scene. Tons of experienced thought has been put into making the design functional and comfortable, and it’s super easy to adjust.
| Huge weight range
Narrow red band around body could scrape skin
POWERBLOCK Adjustable Kettlebell
This kettlebell is the most expensive here, and it offers a string of well-designed advantages.
Firstly, it’s truly durable. It will probably last your lifetime. In fact, it could become a family keepsake (provided someone’s curious toddler doesn’t make off with the pin… I know how these things work.) In fact, because there’s no plastic on this baby, and the moving parts are stupidly simple, it’s got to be the most durable weight on this list.
Here’s how you adjust it. The weights come out and fit on top of each other: they can stand in a stack. When you want to change to weight, you lower the casing over the stack, remove the pin, and slide it in through the opening marked with your desired weight, which fixes the weight to the casing. The pin is magnetic, so although it tends to rattle when you’re using the weights, it’s unlikely to slip out. There’s no fancy dial here, but the brutal simplicity of the system has its appeal.
The shape of the weight is streamlined and excellent for performing various exercises. There’s no corners, sharp bits or protrusions: the only element that sticks out is the smooth, shallow head of the pin, and this really has little effect on using the weight. Its sides boast a curved angle that’s easy on your arms when you’re in the rack position. I’d say that it competes with the Bowflex SelectTech and the Rep Fitness weights for top spots in the Comfortable Body department.
The other exceptional thing about the body is that it doesn’t change shape when you adjust the weight. The casing stays the same. If you’re training for an event, this can really help with perfecting your form.
It pains me to point out that there are still some downsides here. The most notable one is the weight range: it offers only four weights (18, 22, 26 and 35 pounds) – the fewest on this list. Both fit men and male beginners will be happy with this range, but female first timers will struggle to lift and swing this chunky piece of equipment.
The handle also doesn’t accommodate smaller frames. There’s ample width for two hands, and enough space between handle and body that you won’t get bruised knuckles, but the handle is relatively thick and will be uncomfortable for petite hands to use. Happily, it’s comfortable in other ways, though: its perfectly round, and smooth with just a little grip.
Considering that this weight is the most expensive one here, does it deserve your moolah? If you have a bigger frame (and some practice already, if you’re a woman), it can handle all your weight needs with comfort, for many years to come.
| Incredibly durable
Comfortable handle for most hands
Wonderfully comfortable, convenient shape
Shape doesn’t change as weight adjusts
| Most expensive weight here
Only has three weight options
Won’t accommodate smaller hands or beginner females
Apex Adjustable Heavy-Duty Kettlebell
This weight is the least expensive here. It may be simple, but incredibly, it still covers just about everything you need in a basic kettlebell. Unfortunately, though, if you want to lift more than twenty pounds, you’ll have to make an additional purchase.
Basically, this kettlebell is a weighted handle and base. The handle clocks in at 15 pounds, and the base weighs 5. In between the weight and base are 4 zero-pound spacer plates, used to keep the stack full and a consistent shape. As it is, you can use the kettlebell as a 15 or 20 pound weight: a starting weight for women, or a light starting weight for men. Of course, you can make the kettlebell way heavier by purchasing weight plates for it. Technically, you could work your way up to 50 pounds: the highest weight number on this list. And because you could purchase plates that could be either 2.5, 5 or 10 pounds, you can make really fine adjustments and find the weight that feels just right.
At first glance this unit looks wonderfully sturdy, and I’d like to say that it is… but there’s one major flaw. While the base and handle parts are solid cast iron, the steel locking pin has a plastic base. Yes, you heard that right: the key component that’s keeping it all together, the element that all that weight is resting on, is plastic. I’m not sure what the reason behind this material choice was – I’m sure there must be some method to the madness – but unfortunately, this does make this model less durable: if the plastic pin base breaks, you may have to throw the whole thing away. The other problem with the pin is that it slowly works loose while you’re lifting, so you have to stop periodically to tighten it.
The weights take longer to change than on any other model here. You lay the kettlebell flat on its side, unscrew the pin, arrange the weights how you’d like them, and screw them back onto the handle, along with the base. It’s still a fast process… but not quite as simple as twisting a dial or merely slipping in a pin.
Sadly, the handle isn’t ideal, either. While it’s wonderfully round and smooth, with a little grip, and it boasts a powder coating that’s easy on the skin, there’s not quite enough space for two larger hands to fit comfortably side by side. It’s fine for single-handed exercises, but imperfect for double-handed workouts.
Other than that, the body is smooth and relatively comfortable to move around. The base has an indent, so the pin head won’t mark your floor. There’s nothing rough or sharp that could catch on clothing or skin.
If you’d like to be work your way up to a really heavy weight, and have medium to small sized hands or will only use it for one-handed exercises, this kettlebell could be ideal for you. To make sure you get a long life out of it, though, you will have to be careful with that pin.
| Cheap initial cost (there’s a catch)
Lets you lift up to 50 pounds
There’s a lot of variety in possible weight adjustments
Handle is smooth and round with good single-handed grip
Handle is powder coated
| You’ll have to purchase additional weight plates if you want to lift more than 20 pounds
Takes longer to adjust than other models here
Can’t be used for double-handed exercises if you have larger hands
Plastic component compromises durability
Titan Fitness Adjustable Kettlebell
This kettlebell is hard on the heels of the Apex when it comes to winning the title of “Least Expensive” – and it comes with its own weight plates. So what are the drawbacks?
Adjusting the kettlebell is simple enough. There’s a large, circular, plastic clamp contraption on top. You place your finger in the designated hole, and pull. This unfastens the locking mechanism. You can then twist the clamp to the right, and pull out whichever plates you want to lose, or slip plates back in. You repeat to lock the plates in place: pull with your finger in the designated hole, and twist to the left. If this sounds complicated, it really isn’t. Luckily, there’s a short video that shows the whole process.
Without weights, the kettlebell weighs around 10 pounds. There are six 5-pound weight plates, so you can raise the weight all the way up to 40 pounds. This weight range will suit just about anybody, and the fact that adjustments can be made in small increments makes this unit more comfortable than those that change with in a large jump. In fact, there’s more range here than with any other kettlebell on this list, excluding the Apex.
The handle is also wonderfully comfortable. It’s round, smooth, powder coated for an easy grip, and wide enough for two hands. Smaller hands might still struggle to wrap comfortably around it, though. And unfortunately, this isn’t the only downside to this Titan Fitness adjustable.
Quality leaves something to be desired: while the handle is a hardy cast iron, the clamp that locks the weights in place is plastic. Online reviews state that it can crack… rendering your kettlebell unusable. The screws on the handle work themselves loose, too, so for safety’s sake, you need to check them periodically and do some refastening. And – possibly the most devastating drawback – the body is uncomfortable to work with. You’ll need to use arm guards when you’re in the rack position, and a towel, thick clothing or some other buffer if you’ve removed plates and you’re doing bridges or other exercises where the weights are resting on your torso. In general, it’s best to make sure there’s always a plate under the handle (it’s the sharpest edge)… but even so, using this kettlebell does have the potential to cause discomfort.
Overall, if you can make some provisions in the comfort department, remember to check the screws, and are gentle with the clamp, this kettlebell provides a full range of functionality… at a ridiculously competitive price.
Huge weight range
Can change weight in small increments
Comfortable handle for most hands
Works for two-handed exercises
| Plastic clamp may crack
Handle screws come loose
Handle may be too thick for small hands
Stamina Adjustable Kettle Versa-Bell
This slick kettlebell, which sits right in the middle of the other models on this list in terms of price, is an excellent compromise between cost and quality.
The body is a plastic, which does have the potential to be a quality issue, however tough it may be. It may not be able to stand as much heavy usage as a solid metal model, like the Powerblock. But there’s tons of advantages that help to make up for this drawback.
Firstly, weight adjustment is wonderfully simple – there’s just one more step to it than with the Powerblock kettlebell. Here’s how you do it: lower the casing over the stacked weights. Drop the flap on the side, slip out the pin, and reinsert it at the hole marked with your desired weight. Close up the flap, and you’re good to go.
You have a respectable amount of weight options: there’s six, ranging between 16 and 36 pounds (the casing alone weighs 16 pounds, and then there’s five additional weights). This is enough to suit any user, no matter your gender or current capabilities.
The handle is wide, smooth, round and spacious. If you have large hands, you’ll be happy: this handle can accommodate you. If you have small hands, you may struggle to wrap them fully around the handle’s girth.
The body shape looks round, but really, it’s slightly flattened on the sides, and this helps to make it more comfortable on the forearms when you’re holding the kettlebell above your head. It’s nearly perfectly smooth, the only bump being the shallow, rounded rubber flap on one side. And it stays the same no matter what weight you’re training at, so you can perfect your form while working your way up through weights. The handle is a tough cast iron, and the plates and pin are stainless steel. Even if your flap, through some unhappy accident, comes off, the pin has a lock mechanism, so you should still be able to safely use your weight. The base is flat, and it comes with a small rubber mat for complete flooring protection.
If you’re willing to be a little extra careful with the plastic casing, this is a superbly comfortable kettlebell that offers enough variety to keep most users happy for many years.
| Large weight range
Six weight options
Shape doesn’t change as weight adjusts
Small rubber mat included
| Plastic casing is less durable than solid metal
Handle may be too thick for smaller hands to grip comfortably
REP FITNESS Adjustable Powder-coated Kettlebell
This kettlebell may be last on our list… but it shouldn’t come last on your shopping list.
When it comes to body shape, it’s possibly the most comfortable weight here. At least, it’s in hot competition with the Bowflex SelectTech. It’s entirely smooth – there aren’t any visible seams – and a gently rounded oval shape. It sports a cast iron-type finish that’s powder coated for extra comfort, and a rubber base that won’t scratch floors. It keeps the same shape regardless of what weight you’re using, so again, this is a great weight when you’re reaching for perfection.
The handle feels amazing too. It’s wide and round, with enough space on all sides to easily accommodate two hands. Even smaller hands should be relatively comfortable here.
There are five weight options – nothing extravagant – but they do range between 15 and 35 pounds, which will suit most users just fine. You may experience a little discomfort for a few days when you switch up, due to the jump in weight (there’s an extra 4.4 pounds with each increase). But it’s nothing that makes the kettlebell too inconvenient to use.
Changing weights is simple. With the casing positioned over the weight stack, you simply push down on the dial, and twist it to your desired weight. It’s as fast and straightforward as the Bowflex’s dial or the POWERBLOCK’s pin.
Once again, the weak link is any plastic elements. And there are some: both the dial and the internal weight fasteners are plastic. You can expect these to give long before your metal casing and plates ever do. However, very few users have reported quality issues so far.
This kettlebell is the second most expensive on this list; it’s around the same price as the Selectflex. I’d say that it’s worth every dollar: it’s comfortable, convenient, and reliable.
| Seamless, highly comfortable body
Large weight range
Shape doesn’t change as weight adjusts
Should work for smaller hands
Though quality is good, plastic elements are always vulnerable to breakage
There are only 5 weight options
And The Winner Is…
Picking a winning kettlebell is so tough that we decided to divide this section into three categories. Here’s which adjustable kettlebells we liked best, and why.
Most Value For Money: The Stamina Adjustable Kettle Versa-Bell
It’s reliable quality and highly variable, at a competitive price.
Most Durable: The POWERBLOCK Adjustable Kettlebell
An adjustable kettlebell with no plastic components, that still offers fast weight changing and exceptionally comfortable use? Bring it on.
Best All-rounder: The Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Kettlebell
This kettlebell ticks all the boxes: it looks slick, is marvelously comfortable, can be used by anyone, and boasts useful variety along with excellent quality.
How to Tell When to Change Weights
This brings us to an important question: how do you know if you’re ready to set your new kettlebell’s handy adjustable feature in motion?
According to fitness site breakingmuscle.com’s highly informative kettlebell weighting article, you’re ready to size up for overhead movements when you can perform:
- a smooth set of 5-10 single arm presses
- a set of 3 bottoms-up presses
- multiple consecutive windmills and Turkish get ups with ease and poise
And if you can adjust weights for swinging movements when you can do:
- a set of 20+ kettlebell swings have become easy; they do not feel at all intimidating and do not spike your heart rate
- you can maintain perfect form on longer sets of 40+
- you can smoothly snatch the weight for an unbroken set of 10-20 reps
Whether you’re starting out on your fitness journey or have already reached impressive milestones – congratulations! Keep up the good work… and remember to enjoy the process, not just the goals.