Dumbells vs Kettlebells – An Enlightening Journey into Weights for a Fat Burning and Fitness Workout
Having been working out using bodyweight exercises, I had decided it was time to invest in some weights to increase the load and facilitate a greater variety of exercises.
Previously, I had used the typical gym machines, but wanted some weights to use at home due to my recent family committments.
The choice was between Dumbells and Kettlebells. Having considered the comparative costs between dumbells and kettlebells, it was evident the kettlebells had the edge on price and on usefullness.
Dumbells can really only be used when used as a weight. Kettlebells can be used as a weight AND as a portable grip ie for press ups / shoulder presses etc. Indeed, the ‘creative’ user can even use them slipped over their trainers to add weight for leg raises off the floor!
What Are Kettlebells?
Kettlebells are, essentially, a solid weight resembling a canonball with a handle. Typically made from cast iron or cast steel they are the basic tool of many strength training and muscle building workouts.
Kettlebells can be lifted like ordinary dumbells, but can also be used for an intense cardio workout.
They are now becoming more mainstream as they continue to grow in popularity and use in a wider variety of workout exercises from body building, power lifting, cross fit, cardio and fat burning workouts.
Kettlebells come in a wide variety of weights typically from 2kg up to an impressive 40kg!
The weight range depends upon the manufacturer:
- York Fitness produce kettlebells from 2kg to 20Kg
- BodyMax manufacture a range from 4kg to 40Kg
- IQI Kettlebells are available in weights from 2kg to 14kg
- WeRSports Kettlebells are available in a range from 4kg – 40 kg
- JLL produce neoprene kettlebells in a range from 6-24kg and vinyl from 2-12kg
- Tone Fitness (US) produce a range of Vinyl Kettlebells in 5, 10 or 15lbs
What Weight Kettlebell Should I Buy?
As a general rule, beginners should start at the lower end (2-4kg) but this is dependant on several factors:
- Your Physique: Everyone is different having widely varying physical abilities. Tall stocky people tend to be able to carry heavier weights easily and would be advised to look at kettlebells from 6-8kg as a starting point. Short, slim or inexperienced people may be better starting with a 2 or 4 kg weight.
- Your Fitness Level: If you have never worked out before or are returning to workouts, then you may not be able to complete a workout with anything more than 4 kg. (Trust me – after 30 squats,10 reps of arm lifts, side lifts or renegade lifts, ab crunches and even leg lifts with 2 x 4kg kettlebells, you’ll know about it!!). If you have worked out previously and can handle 4kg with ease, then by all means use larger sizes (6-8kg+).
- The Individual Exercise(s) being Performed. Certain exercises only require 1 x heavier kettlebell (say 10 or 20kg). Fat burning workouts will require 2 light-med weight kettlebells (4-8kg) to facilitate symetrical muscular developement during arm lifts, push-ups, renegade lifts etc.
- Your Budget. Kettlebells range widely in price. Depending upon the retailer you may pay anything from around £5.50 (US$6.87) up to £75.98 (US$94:98) each. Sets are also available for purchase.
What is the Best Kettlebell? A Brand Comparison
Before we get into the nitty gritty of brands, we just need to take a look at the various types of kettlebell available by the brands.
Types of Kettlebells Manufactured
There are several types of kettle bell in current production. Primarily they are made from either cast iron or cast steel with the majority being coarsely sanded down.
Other forms of manufacture have the benefit of being vinyl coated or dipped. With their popularity rising, manufacturers are now beginning to produce more neoprene coated kettlebells for a more ‘contemporary’ look having a softer surface to protect furniture and delicate wooden flooring. Solid PVC kettle bells are also available.
Plain cast iron or cast steel kettle bells (ie BodyMax, We R Sports)
One of the main problems I read about with plain / uncoated cast iron kettle bells is the seam on the inside of the handle from the casting process.
This sharp and rough edge can be very problematic when lifting the bells as it can cut, scratch and pull on skin and callouses. Not a pleasant experience and one that should not be evident in todays manufacturing standards.
Vinyl Kettlebells are produced by York Fitness, IQI etc
Vinyl coated or dipped kettle bells have several advantages over the traditional rough cast kettle bell ;
- Smoother finish prevents abrasions and cuts to the skin
- Do Not scratch expensive wooden flooring
- Can be easily identified by colour coding of vinyl coating
Neoprene has a soft, comfortable feel protecting skin and hard flooring surfaces from damage.
Whilst vinyl covered kettle bells are totally covered, neoprene version are dipped to create a thick coating of neoprene around the lower 2/3rds of the ‘bell. Neoprene dipped kettle bells also tend to be colour coded with bright colours.
Kettlebell Brands – A Comparison
A brief overview of the kettlebell brands widely available in the marketplace. Whilst there are more brands coming onto the market, these are the main contenders.
BodyMax produce a range of rough cast iron kettle bells. Their weight range is from 4kg – 40kg.
Comparing the two images of the BodyMax kettle bells, it is evident a similar problem exists with the DTX Fitness kettle bells..
….the handle on the smaller bells being disproportionately large giving rise to the probability of loss of balance and injury.
Additionally, the labelling is very ‘amateurish’ appearing to be painted on carelessly. In the 21st Century, you would expect a higher production quality than this – regardless of price.
Notice the little ‘dent’ in the the top left section of the handle on the 4Kg kettlebell. These do NOT show ‘carefull manufacturing’. These observations are purely from the supplied images and does not take into account the negative comments from previous customers as detailed below …
“Wrong weight and different from original BodyMax Kettlebells. Contact with seller was not good – answer phone only or via email. Poor weight consistency and inaccurate.”
York Fitness Vinyl Kettlebells
York Fitness produce a pleasant range of colour coded vinyl kettlebells. These kettlebells are smooth to the touch, have no seam on the inside of the handle to cause cuts or abrasions.
The vinyl coating also prevents damage to any wooden or other delicate flooring.
These kettle bells have a sturdy and stable wide base with a wide but slim line handle preventing over-balancing. The flat surface underneath assures stability whilst in use and when stored away – they will not roll over.
The coating is smooth and comfortable to the touch. The flat top of the handle enables sure grip / footing when using them as push up supports while the side angle facilitates easy grip for 2-handed lifts / exercises.
Benefits of the York Fitness Kettlebells –
- Ergonomically Designed Handle
- Anti-Slip Base
- Smooth Vinyl Finish
- Each one comes with FREE full colour workout chart*
* Workout chart is poster size and covers x exercises with kettle bells, how to do the exercises and which muscles they work.
JLL Vinyl and Neoprene Coated Kettlebells
JLL Fitness produce a range of coloured neoprene coated cast iron ketttlebells with a weight range of 6-24kg. JLL also produce a range of Vinyl Coated kettle bells.
What others say about the JLL Kettlebells:-
“Quick delivery. And lovely looking Kettle Bells. Nice soft foam surrounding the bottom of the bell to stop any damage to my wooden floor. Love them!”
(One of many positive reviews for the JLL Kettlebells)
WeR Sports Cast Iron Kettlebells
WeR Sports produce a range of rough cast iron kettle bells from 4kg up to 40kg.
Previous Customer Comments:-
Whilst there are numerous positive comments, one stands out reflecting the main issue of rough cast iron kettle bells
“the sharp seam on the inside of the handle catches the skin and pulls on callouses. The general finish is also very rough.”
It would be advisable to factor in a pair of exercise / fitness gloves for use with these due to the rough finish increase the ‘cost of ownership’.
DTX Fitness Cast Iron Kettlebells
DTX Fitness produce a range of cast iron kettle bells in sizes from 4-28Kg. Whilst this range is not the greatest, it is satisfactory for the vast majority of people who want to get fit but not – heavily bulked-up.
Whilst the finish on the DTX Kettlebells looks cleaner than other cast iron bells, there is a noticeable difference in the handle of each bell – note the wider, squatter handle on the 4kg model compared to the larger bell in the main pic.
This may (or may not) be an issue to prospective purchasers in view of consistency when performing various workouts. The handle on the 4 kg appears ‘unbalanced’ or top heavy.
Personally, I would not put my faith in this kettle bell for a variety of exercises for fear of the bell unstabilising causing a potentially painful accident.
IQI produce a range of vinyl kettlebells in the weight range of 2-14kg. They have an easy clean vinyl finish plus a smooth surface with an ergonomic design.
[Note: At time of completing checklist for IQI Kettlebells, their shop was displaying widely inconsistent pricing quoting £7:99 originally, increasing to £9:99 (3KG Kettlebell, £12:99 raised to £17:99 for the 6Kg kettle bell up to an increased price of £32:99 for the 14Kg kettle bell. The shop also displayed a 246kg item at £38:99.]
What is the best Kettlebell?
From the above descriptions / /reviews, there is NO singular winner in this category. Whilst this list is not comprehensive (there are other brands becoming available with the rising popularity of kettlebells as a workout tool) there still lies the personal preferences.
Experienced weight lifters will have their own preferred brands based around their own workouts and performance but for a simple, fat burning workout at home, the vinyl kettle bells are coming into their own now being:-
- Smooth to the touch
- Colour coded – Easily Identifiable
- Pleasing on the Eye
- Minimalise Damage to furniture / wooden flooring
- Consistent Manufacturing Quality
- Better value for Money
- Reduced Risk of Personal Injury (Cuts etc from sharp cast iron joints)
Kettlebell Price Comparison ¹
Brand Model 2 3 4 6 8 10 12 14
BodyMax Cast Iron – – 12:99 17:42 21:61 24:62 28:61 –
DTX Fitness Cast Iron – – 8:95 12:95 14:95 18:95 22:95 –
WeRSports Cast Iron – – 11:99 14:99 17:99 22:99 26:99 –
JLL Neoprene – – 10:99 – – 22:99 – –
JLL Vinyl – – – – – – 19:99 –
York Vinyl 7.32 7.44 9:44 11.44 13.45 17:99 22:99 27:44
IQI Vinyl 14:99 9:99 10:99 17:99 – 24:99 31:99 32:99
Note: widely varying prices from IQI. Finding accurate, reliable and competitive prices was not to be with some brands. York being the only brand with a consistent and competitive pricing structure. Prices are in GBP for the items only and do not reflect on delivery options. Prices were correct at the time this information was compiled (June 2017).
- Source: Amazon UK Amazon US Customers Click Here
What is the Best Value Kettlebell?
When I look to buy a product, I invariably look for several factors :
- Price – is the product competitively priced?
- Quality – it is important we ALL get high quality products. Manufacturing standards have improved greatly with improved consistency through Quality Assurance procedures and International Standards Organisation requirements. Being a qualified mechanical engineering technician and skilled manual machinist, I understand the manufacturing processes including that of cast iron and cast steel. Though research has proven certain kettle bell manufacturers of rough cast iron kettle bells are not observing the modern manufacturing standards.
- Delivery. Delivery charges vary between companies and methods of shipment. The cost of delivery MUST be factored into the overall cost of acquiring the product
- Service. After sales service is important to the purchaser aswell as the retailer / manufacturer. Poor after sales service will be remembered by the customer more so than good (or acceptable) after sales service.
- Presentation of actual product. Is the product description accurate and consistent without causing confusion resulting in ‘error’ charging (deliberately mis-quoting prices in an underhanded attempt to part you from your cash for a product you were not 100% confident about)
- Bonuses! Extra items included with the original product that enhance the purchase with a relevant and beneficial usage without adding unnecessary complications.
- Guarantee. Your statutory rights dictate a guarantee is provided for new products.
With that said, the York range have the edge for range, quality, price and delivery options. One of the competing retailers quoted a 2-4 week delivery from inside the UK to a UK address. Not acceptable when better quality retailers can despatch them to your house on the day of order and arrive within a couple of days!
My Recommendations from this Kettlebell Review:
If you are starting out using weights for any form of workout (cross fit, weight training, fat burning, turbulence training or other form of High Intensity interval training) then I would advise you to look at the York range of kettle bells.
Not forgetting York have been producing fitness equipment for decades and have an established business with a high reputation.
My Personal Experience in Selecting and Buying Kettlebells……
“Having viewed the variety available it was time to evaluate the costs and delivery options. Whilst one brand appeared to be comparatively priced, the delivery time was quoted as (2-4 weeks). The alternative choice (2 x 4Kg York Vinyl kettlebells) could be delivered with 3 days.
The quality of the bells, value for money and delivery options sealed the deal. The York Kettlebells were purchased and arrived in a matter of days.
Opening the individual boxes revealed carefull packaging of an undamaged pair of pristine vinyl kettlebells with no scuffs or rough edges to cut myself whilst performing my workouts. Perhaps more importantly, no rough edges for my very young and inquisitive daughter to cut herself on either.
The handles were easy to grip with the flat base providing a stable base for storage and stability when performing push-ups from the handles. Very satisfied!”
Take a closer look at the York Fitness Vinyl Kettlebells available from their outlet here.
Q. Where Can I buy Kettlebells?
A. You can buy a wide range of kettle bells (including the York Vinyl Kettlebells range) at most sports retailers.
Q. What are others saying about the York Fitness Kettlebells?
A. From the hundreds of positive customer reviews, here are just a few of their comments:-
“I bought this after moving on from my starter set of kettle bells.
I found this kettle bell was far more comfortable to use than my previous 4kg bell (another brand), which had caused blisters and scratches on the palm of my hands from the seam between the two colours on the handles.
This kettle bell was comfortable to use and a much better addition to my collection. I will be purchasing them 8kg and 10kg shortly!”
“This is great for someone, who like me, has never really used weights before! It is small and although it may not seem mich ‘weightwise’ you definitely feel it in your arms after a few reps!!”
“Does as it says, comes with a really good exercise plan aswell. Would recommend for anyone wanting a kettle bell. Quick delivery too!”
PS. I purchased my York Kettlebells from Amazon UK. However, due to recent delivery issues, I no longer feel comfortable recommending Amazon as a viable supplier. As an Amazon prime customer, I should have received teh recently ordered items teh following day. This did not happen. 3 out of 4 items were delivered LATE. 1 did not even turn up and was declared ‘lost in the post’ .
I will endeavour to update this option asap. Thanks for reading.