Updated: Jul 3
Competition kettlebells must satisfy a specific criteria: the size and dimensions are uniform irrespective of the weight and each weight is colour coded.
If of late you’ve been flirting with the idea of investing in a piece of home gym equipment, you’d be making a wise decision if you decided on a kettlebell. Why? Let me answer that question with a list of positive attributes that kettlebells possess:
Kettlebells are immensely versatile and with one bell you have access to a plethora of different exercises. Accordingly the number of exercises exceeds 50!
Unlike conventional weights – dumbbells/barbells (even power bags) – kettlebells can help develop whole-body functional fitness whilst stimulating the cardiovascular system. Hence the reason why they’re called an all-in-one gym.
Having worked in the fitness industry for 15 years I’ve seen lots of broken exercise equipment. From five grand treadmills to ten pound skipping ropes everything breaks eventually. Everything except kettlebells: a quality competition kettlebell will literally last a lifetime. This is the one and only piece of exercise equipment that never needs replacing.
A competition kettlebell that meets the standards described below can be acquired for less than £100. In fact, depending on which weight you select, a quality kettlebell could cost as little as £40. I challenge the reader to identify a comparative piece of exercise equipment that offers not only such a broad spectrum of application but is (almost) indestructible.
Now that you’ve been acquainted with the kettlebell’s many qualities – and there are more besides – we can turn our attention to separating the wheat form the chaff. For not all kettlebells were created equally.
The problem today is, because kettlebells have become so popular, and because few people have the first clue about what constitutes as a proper kettlebell, the market is being flooded with, well, crap (for want of a better word).
For example, kettlebells should never ever – EVER! – be made from plastic. Cast iron at a minimum. Steel is preferable though.
Also, irrespective of the weight, the kettlebell should be the same size and shape. A bell that meets these stringent geometric and compositional requirements is called a competition kettlebell.
What is a competition kettlebell?
A competition kettlebell (or CKB for brevity) is one that meets the size specifications used in traditional Girevoy Sports events. Irrespective of the weight of a CKB the dimensions do not differ; a 16kg is exactly the same size of a 32kg. In Russia, where kettlebells were first conceived, the weights are divided into ‘poods’ - 1 pood = 16kg.
Because the size of CKBs is the same this can make it difficult to differentiate between weights. It is for this reason why each weight is assigned a unique colour (although some manufacturers of kettlebells have failed to observe this simple colour coding system which can sometimes make selecting kettlebells over the internet confusing). The colours are as follows:
Pink = 8kg
Blue = 12kg
Yellow = 16kg (or 1 pood)
Purple = 20kg
Green = 24kg (or 1.5 poods)
Orange = 28kg
Red = 32kg (or 2 poods)
Grey = 36kg
White (white) = 40kg
Silver = 44kg
Gold = 48kg
Though perhaps size uniformity may seem confusing it has its benefits. Anyone who’s ever trained with an inferior quality kettlebell, ones the size of a shotput or worse shaped like an egg, will readily attest to the discomfort they cause in the wrist and shoulder after prolonged use. Also, a uniform size ensures a consistent training experience when progressing up the poods.
Another characteristic difference to take note of is the shape and design of the handles of CKBs. As opposed to cheaper imitation products, the handles of CKBs are substantial enough to accommodate one sizeable hand and are flat from corner to corner. Also, the handle is polished smooth so as to reduce skin abrasions and they are never coated in paint or other treatments.
And finally, CKB are constructed from primum grade steel cast from a single mould – never buy a kettlebell with welded handles. All the kettlebells that feature in this review satisfy these stringent set of requirements.
1: ATREQ Competition Pro Grade Kettlebells
Product Overview (click for availability)
ATREQ competition kettlebells are manufactured from cast steel and available in sizes ranging from 8kg through to 36kg at 4kg increments.
The kettlebells are all the same size and shape of across each size.
Each kettlebell is colour-coordinated to the relevant weight to ensure ease of identification.
All kettlebells are also engraved with the respective weight numbers.
A very well rated competition kettlebell that ticks all the Girevoy Sport requirements.
ATREQ Competition Kettlebells are manufactured from cast steel and available in sizes ranging from 8kg through to 36kg at 4kg increments. The kettlebells are all the same size and shape of across each size.
Each kettlebell comes colour coordinated and engraved with weight number for ease of identification.
The handles have been highly polished and particular care and attention has been taken in removing abrasion-causing indents.
Because ATREQ competition kettlebells are constructed from superior quality steel they are suitable for outdoor use in any weather.
2: Jordan Fitness Competition Kettlebells
Product Overview (click for availability)
Steel Competition Kettlebells with smooth finish and a hollow core.
Uniform size and shape of kettlebell across the range.
Super smooth handle for comfort when in use.
Colour coded for ease of identification.
Available in sizes 8kg to 40kg - in 4kg increments.
Jordan Fitness kettlebells are designed to the exacting specifications set by Girevoy Sport’s competition standards.
The size of each bell is the same regardless of which weight you select; and, unlike a lot of kettlebell manufacturers, Jordan offers a wide range starting at 8 and, in 4kg increments, progressing up to 40kg.
As we would expect from a competition kettlebell the handles are flat from corner to corner and have been polished smooth.
The large flat base will ensure that they don’t roll away when performing floor-based exercises. Furthermore, the hollow core improves weight distribution making each bell perfectly balanced.
3: Powrx Competition Kettlebells
Product Overview (click for availability)
Each kettlebell comes with a digital exercise chart.
Professional steel kettlebell weights range from: 4kg, 6kg, 8kg, 12kg, 16kg, 20kg, 24kg, 28kg
The competition kettlebell is made of 100% steel making them durable.
The flat base improves stability for when performing floor exercises.
POWRX’s kettlebells are created in the image of the Girevoy competition standard design – as mentioned ad nauseum: this is an absolute must.
And though POWRX kettlebell handles do not appear as smooth as some of their competitors, they are substantially cheaper bell. This makes them the perfect beginner’s kettlebell.
But don’t let their reasonable price tag put you off. POWRX competition kettlebells are designed for professionals, gyms and those with the high training goals.
The weights range from 4 to 28kg and increase in 4kg increments.
These kettlebells are all the same size irrespective of the weight. Each bell has been moulded from one-piece of high-grade industrial steel thus guaranteeing longevity and superior durability.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if it’s superior fitness you’re after then you need to start training with kettlebells. For the price they are unrivalled in functionality, diversity and durability.
And it wouldn’t be an over exaggerating to say that the kettlebell is the undisputed king of training equipment.
But enough arse kissing. When you get yourself a bell – and make sure that it is a competition kettlebell! – you’ll eagerly want to learn how to use it. Am I right? Damn straight I am.
Below I have included links to two articles. The first will teach you 10 of the best kettlebell exercises. The second will provide you with 5 training sessions which offer you the opportunity to take your shiny new bell for a test drive.
(As we are very interested in user experience here at Hungry4Fitness, we would be very grateful if you could take a few seconds out of your day to leave a comment. Thanks in advance!)
Adam Priest, former Royal Marines Commando, is a personal trainer, lecturer, boxing and Thai boxing enthusiast.