For most people, the ideal piece of gym equipment is something that A) won’t implode your budget and B) doesn’t take up precious real estate in your home gym. But fulfilling such platonic ideals can be challenging, especially if you’re trying to build both strength and aerobic capacity. Enter: Adjustable kettlebells.
These are, well, kettlebells (round- or cylindrical-shaped weights with a looped handle on one end) that have interlocking plates to allow you to change up its weight. If you’re sold on the concept of adjustable kettlebells but overwhelmed by the myriad options, don’t worry. We took on the weighty task of finding the best adjustable kettlebells with extensive research and a lot of swings, deadlifts, and suitcase carries.
The Bowflex SelectTech 840 came out as the best adjustable kettlebell for its user-friendliness, sleek design, and variety of weight options. It also scored extra points for versatility: Where some other weights’ awkward shapes made certain moves painful or even unsafe, this wasn’t an issue for the Bowflex.
Here’s the TL;DR on how the best adjustable kettlebells stack up:
- Bowflex SelectTech 840
- Titan Fitness Adjustable Kettlebell
- Yes4All Adjustable Kettlebell
- Apex Adjustable Kettlebell
- Powerblock Adjustable Kettlebell
The Adjustable Kettlebell We Recommend
The Best Overall Adjustable Kettlebell
Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell
- 8- to 40-pound weight range in varied increments
- Made of steel, polypropylene, ABS, and thermoplastic rubber
- Easy to adjust and use
- Comfortable and safe in almost every position
- Stylish appearance
- Shape may limit range of motion for petite users
From almost the moment I laid eyes on it, the Bowflex SelectTech 840 Adjustable Kettlebell was the clear winner. Many of the other kettlebells were hard to adjust and had design flaws that limited my ability to use them. But this one was a breeze from start to finish. Plus, it gets bonus points for its aesthetically pleasing black-and-red design.
Bowflex’s instruction manual is chock-full of information with 11 pages of instruction, including a standard safety warning, step-by-step operation instructions, and maintenance tips. But its design is so intuitive, I didn’t need it. Not only was it easy to figure out how to adjust the weight, it was simple to do. With a twist of a dial, you can select a weight of 8, 12, 20, 25, 35, or 40 pounds. While testing, I found myself wishing there was an option between 25 and 35 pounds. But this was the only place where the Bowflex fell short. I also appreciated the fact that the weight selections are clearly marked in both pounds and kilograms.
The Bowflex was comfortable and safe in virtually any position. Where others had hard edges that dug into my forearms during moves like snatches, shoulder presses, and front rack squats and lunges, the Bowflex’s smooth surface allowed me to perform them with ease.
The Bowflex’s wide, flat base also felt like a nice bonus. Knowing that the kettlebell wouldn’t wobble under pressure, I felt secure doing moves like renegade rows. This feature, along with its plates that neatly stack on the base unit when not in use, made it easy to store.
The handles of all the products I tried were wider than those of traditional kettlebells, but Bowflex was among the narrower options. Depending on what you’re looking for in a product and how big your hands are, this could be a plus or a minus. In any case, I appreciated the smooth feel of the handle. (While sweaty hands could make the handle slippery, weight lifting gloves or chalk should solve the problem.)
Taking the Bowflex through multiple workouts, it consistently felt sturdy, well-made, and very safe. Bowflex’s unique locking mechanism made me feel very confident that my weight plates wouldn’t unexpectedly go flying mid-workout.
This kettlebell requires little maintenance. To keep it clean, Bowflex suggests using a damp cloth with some mild soap. The user manual notes that it’s internally lubricated and you shouldn’t need to lubricate it further. If you do need to, Bowflex suggests using only a “food grade” silicone lubricant.
I’m not the only one who loves this product. With nearly 4,000 reviews on Amazon, it has an average rating of an impressive 4.8 out of five stars.
It’s hard to come up with any major drawbacks. However, it had a strong chemical smell when I took it out of the box. (Within a day, it was imperceptible.) Also, like most of the products I tried, it doesn’t have a traditional kettlebell shape. Unlike the spherical shape of traditional kettlebells, the Bowflex is shaped like a rectangle with rounded sides. While taller people won’t have issues with its relatively tall height, this could be a downside for petite users. I’m five feet tall and when I did sumo squats, I couldn’t bend my knees past 90 degrees, at which point the base hit the floor. The shape also limited my range of motion with deadlifts. Still—these are all minor issues for an otherwise fantastic adjustable kettlebell.
Should You Invest in an Adjustable Kettlebell Set?
A traditional kettlebell is a compact, spherical weight with a handle on top. Adjustable weight kettlebells come in various shapes and sizes with the same looped handle on top. Whether an adjustable kettlebell will be the perfect complement to your home gym depends on how serious you are about kettlebells and what your fitness goals are.
You don’t have to be super strong to use an adjustable kettlebell, but they’re ideal for people who have some weight training background or even a couple of kettlebell sessions with a personal trainer under their belt. For kettlebell-specific moves like kettlebell swings, good form is crucial for injury prevention—so a little skill and experience goes a long way.
That said, even if you have experience with kettlebells, know that the adjustable weight variety sacrifices the traditional feel for versatility and relative compactness. In other words, the awkward shape and larger size (both of the handle and the weight) may take some getting used to.
How Do Adjustable Kettlebells Differ From Traditional Kettlebells?
If you’re a traditional kettlebell aficionado, you probably won’t love the adjustable variety (at least at first). The sizes and shape of both the handle and the weight are noticeably different from those of a typical kettlebell, impacting the way it feels in your hands and the dynamics of the movements. The brand Titan offers an adjustable competition style (or traditional) bell, but we didn’t test it because modifying the weight requires an Allen wrench—not something you want to be dealing with mid-workout.
Meanwhile, most serious weightlifters are looking for more variation in weight options than the typical adjustable kettlebell can provide. (The ones we tested range from about 8 to 40 pounds.) But for those who just want to build strength? The best adjustable kettlebell offers a lot of bang for your buck in terms of price, space savings, and versatility.
What Are The Benefits of Training with Kettlebells?
Kettlebell training contributes to gains in traditional weightlifting and powerlifting Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research “Transference of kettlebell training to strength, power, and endurance” View Source , according to one small study. This is great news for barbell enthusiasts who lack space for a full setup at home.
And if you want to boost your cardiorespiratory fitness without setting out on an outdoor run or dealing the monotony of the treadmill or elliptical, an adjustable kettlebell could be just what you’re looking for. One study found that a kettlebell session Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research “Comparison of two-hand kettlebell exercise and graded treadmill walking: effectiveness as a stimulus for cardiorespiratory fitness” View Source that alternated between two compound movements (exercises that use more than one muscle group at a time, like squats) and 3 minutes of rest elicited metabolic changes similar to those produced by a moderate-intensity treadmill walking program.
How We Got Here
Meet Your Guinea Pig
I’m Pam Moore. If you have questions about who I am and why you should believe me, read on. I have answers.
Before becoming a freelance health and fitness writer working with outlets like The Washington Post, Runner’s World, Outside, and SELF, I received my Masters degree in occupational therapy. I worked in a variety of healthcare settings (mostly hospitals) for more than a decade, helping people with chronic and acute medical conditions function as fully as possible. This meant designing treatments that helped my patients grow stronger, more coordinated, and more self-aware. It also meant educating patients and their families on how to make their homes as safe as possible.
I’m also an American Council on Exercise (ACE)-certified personal trainer, weight-neutral health coach, and complete fitness geek. Although my first love is endurance sports—I’ve completed six marathons and two Ironmans—I’ve also dabbled in CrossFit. As a group fitness instructor for nearly 20 years, I’ve taught indoor cycling and barre.
I enjoy working out at the gym. But since the pandemic started I’ve been experimenting with all kinds of workouts in my basement. That includes lots of sweaty sessions with my own kettlebell collection, which includes traditional 25-, 30-, 40-, and 50-pound bells.
Our Testing Process
I started by thoroughly researching kettlebells, how they’re made, and how their construction contributes to user experience. I also scoured the interwebs to find out who is most likely to use kettlebells and why. Then, I researched which kettlebells are most popular among consumers and which features set each option apart.
After sifting through and summarizing my extensive notes, I narrowed down my selections and submitted them to the Ness team. We then collaborated to determine which five products would make the final cut and purchased them for testing.
I took each selection through at least two full body workouts each, using some for as many as four workouts. (This excludes the PowerBlock, which malfunctioned about ten minutes into its first workout.) Routines ranged from 20 to 45 minutes. They included kettlebell swings, squats, deadlifts, lunges, carries, shoulder presses, push presses, snatches, and cleans.
In total, I spent eight hours researching and testing. If you want to read more about how we found the best adjustable kettlebells, you can check out my test notes.
The Adjustable Kettlebell Buying Guide
Who should buy an adjustable weight kettlebell?
Adjustable weight kettlebells are an excellent option for anyone who wants the health benefits of resistance training and aerobic exercise but doesn’t have the space (or the budget) for an entire set of weights.
They’re also great for anyone who wants to spice up their resistance training with equipment that offers serious benefits. Kettlebells can help with balance, flexibility, core strength, and grip strength ACE Fitness “ACE Sponsored Research Study: Kettlebells Kick Butt” View Source . Plus, they can add explosive movements, like kettlebell swings or kettlebell jump squats, to your training. This can translate to power gains in other sports or your lifting program at the gym.
Meanwhile, kettlebell training can also prevent everyday aches and pains. A study that looked at adults whose jobs are associated with a high prevalence of low back, shoulder, and neck pain found decreased symptoms among those who exercised with kettlebells Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health “Kettlebell training for musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health: a randomized controlled trial” View Source versus the control group.
Adjustable kettlebells aren’t for everyone, though. Due to their untraditional shapes and sizes, they’re not the right choice for kettlebell purists. They don’t require Hulk-like strength, but they’re not an ideal choice for weightlifting newbies. Because they require a certain level of technique, they’re best for people with at least some weight lifting experience. (Ideally those who have completed at least a kettlebell session or two with a personal trainer to avoid injury.) If you’re new to lifting weights, start with a pair of 5 to 10-pound dumbbells instead.
Which features matter most when buying this product?
When you work out, you should be challenging your muscles, not your patience or your risk tolerance. That’s why, when taking each product through the testing process, we paid careful attention to the following questions:
- How simple is it to figure out how to adjust the weight settings?
- Do you need to sift through a complicated user manual or search for a YouTube video in to get started? Or is it obvious right off the bat?
- Is it easy to make adjustments when you’re tired and sweaty between sets?
When it comes to versatility, we looked at a number of factors, including:
- How the product performed during one-handed moves and two-handed moves
- How many different weight settings were available
- The range of weight settings
Grip comfort and sturdiness
We evaluated each product for grip comfort and general sturdiness; even the most versatile, adjustable, user-friendly kettlebell won’t be useful if you’re not comfortable using it.
Setup and storage
We know you’d rather spend your precious time working out than setting up and putting away your equipment. This is why set up and clean up time impacted each product’s final score.
Other Adjustable Kettlebells Worth Considering
Titan Fitness Adjustable Kettlebell
- 10- to 40-pound weight range in 5-pound increments
- Made of plastic and powder-coated cast iron
- Shape is similar to a traditional kettlebell
- User-friendly weight adjustment mechanism
- Lack of outer shell makes some exercises painful
The Titan earned high marks for ease of use. With a contrasting color scheme and clear weight labels, it was easy to figure out the weight adjustment process. The kettlebell is totally adequate for moves like squats, deadlifts, lunges, and carries, and works as a great substitute for a dumbbell for most lower body moves. Setup and cleanup aren’t quite as simple as the Bowflex, because its plates have slightly rounded edges that each need to be stored in a specific slot on the unit’s base. Still, the Titan is a very close second-best option. Other people seem to like it too—it has a 4.7-star rating out of more than 500 reviews on Amazon.
Unfortunately, the Titan falls short during any exercise where you’re holding it in a rack position. (That’s when it makes contact with your forearm.) The weight itself is round like a traditional kettlebell, but its circumference is greater. This means more surface area makes contact with your forearm for moves like snatches, cleans, or front rack squats. This is manageable when all the weights are in use, bringing it to its max weight of 40 pounds. However, when you remove one or more of the weight plates, things get dicey. Because there’s no cohesive outer shell (like with the Bowflex), you’re left with a gap in the surface. Surrounding the gap are the hard edges of the weight plates above and below the missing plate(s). When those hard edges connect with your forearm, it’s agonizing.
Even for relatively static moves like a shoulder press, I couldn’t tolerate the hard edges pressing into my forearm for more than a few reps. I simply wasn’t willing to try a more dynamic move (such as a snatch), which would have had that hard edge banging into my forearm with some velocity behind it.
The Titan also has an extremely wide handle, which I didn’t love. Although it might be perfect for a larger person, as a petite woman, the width interfered with my kettlebell swing. I couldn’t swing it as far as I’d have liked in the downward position because the handles were wider than the distance between my inner thighs. That said, a taller person with big hands might love the extra width.
Widest Weight Range
Yes4All Adjustable Kettlebell
- 10- to 40-pound weight range in varying (4.6- to 6-pound) increments
- Made of powder-coated cast iron
- Offers the widest variety of weight options of all the kettlebells tested
- Weight plates’ weights aren’t uniform, which can make it hard to make quick adjustments
The Yes4All kettlebell appeared to have been made from the exact same mold as the Titan product. It has the same wide handle, large spherical shape, and locking mechanism. But where the Yes4All’s color scheme and design made it easy to figure out how to change the weight plates, Titan’s all-black scheme and weight label placement made it difficult. However, it’s a big hit among customers, with a 4.7-star rating out of more than 5,000 Amazon reviews.
This product also had all the same design flaws as the Titan. I couldn’t use the Yes4All with overhead exercises or any movements with the weight in the racked position because the plates kept digging into my arms. It also made kettlebell swings feel awkward because the handles were so wide.
Yes4All has exact adjustability covered—perhaps to an extreme extent. It features two 4.6-pound plates, two 5.5-pound plates, and two six-pound plates. In theory, this is great for precision. In practice, I don’t want to do math when my blood is being diverted from my brain to my muscles. And that’s exactly what the Yes4All kettlebell asks its users to do.
Apex Adjustable Kettlebell
- 8- to 15-pound weight range in varying-pound increments
- Made of cast iron
- Lots of control over weight variation
- Difficult and time consuming to adjust weights
- Doesn’t include weight plates
Apex’s product description calls it a “complete weight set.” That’s not entirely accurate. The Apex comes with a 15-pound base and four plastic spacers that maintain the shape and size of the equipment without adding (much) weight. This allows you to sub out one or more spacers for a weight plate to dial in the weight to meet your needs without changing the feel.
But if you want to make this product any heavier than 15 pounds, you’ll need to buy your own weight plates. You have the option to buy 2.5-pound plates, five-pound plates, or ten-pound plates, or any combination of those weights. The kettlebell has a 4.4-star rating out of just under 400 Amazon reviews. (And most of the reviewers’ complaints center around the lack of clarity regarding the weight plates.)
The Apex weight’s, uh, unique build (it is, quite literally, “built different”) provides a lot of control over the amount and variations in weights. But if you expect making changes to be “simple” or “easy” to do, you’re in for a nasty surprise. While tools aren’t supposed to be necessary, I wished a custom wrench had been included with the product. It takes a lot of hand strength (and time) to unscrew the piece that holds the weight plates in place. Screwing it back on was equally unpleasant. I found myself stuck, crouching in an awkward position for much longer than I would have liked, over my many failed attempts to thread the screw correctly. Once I had it threaded, it took an exceptionally long time to screw it in fully.
PowerBlock Adjustable Kettlebell
- 18- to 35-pound weight range in various increments
- Made of composite material
- Clear weight markings
- Smooth outer shell
- Major design flaws rendered mine unusable
- No instruction manual
I only got to take this Powerblock weight through a few exercises. Then, it malfunctioned to the point where I couldn’t use it. I liked its compactness, the clear weight markings, and its smooth outer shell. But I immediately had safety concerns, and it didn’t come with a user manual or instructions to reassure me.
A pin holds the weight plates in place; however, there’s no obvious locking mechanism. (Later, after reviewing Powerblock’s website, I found that they say it has a magnetic locking system.) Not being confident that it was secure, I worried that the pin would fall out with dynamic movements like kettlebell swings or snatches.
I never got to find out whether my concerns were legitimate, because while I was trying to adjust the weight between sets, a simple user error rendered the weight unusable when I accidentally wedged a weight into the outer shell at an angle and it got stuck. The first time this happened I was able to (carefully) shake it out. The second time, however, I was not. With the weight stuck at an angle, there was no way to secure it in place with the pin. A kettlebell swing or a power clean might have been enough to spontaneously dislodge it. But I didn’t want to find out and risk hurting myself, a family member, or my drywall in the process.
- Kettlebell training can translate to gains in strength and power when weightlifting and powerlifting: “Transference of Kettlebell Training to Strength, Power, and Endurance,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (February 2013).
- A kettlebell workout and a treadmill walking program elicited similar metabolic responses in study participants: “Comparison of Two-Hand Kettlebell Exercise and Graded Treadmill Walking: Effectiveness as a Stimulus for Cardiorespiratory Fitness,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (April 2014).
- Kettlebell training can create improvements in VO2 max. A measure of aerobic fitness: “Oxygen Cost of Kettlebell Swings,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (April 2010).
- Kettlebells can be effective in improving balance and aerobic fitness: “Effects of Kettlebell Training on Aerobic Capacity, Muscular Strength, Balance, Flexibility, and Body Composition,” Journal of Fitness Research (2013).
- Kettlebell workouts can boost aerobic fitness, core strength, grip strength, and balance: “ACE Sponsored Research Study: Kettlebells Kick Butt,” ACE Feature Articles (March 2013).
- Kettlebell workouts can help ease low back, neck, and shoulder pain among workers: “Kettlebell Training for Musculoskeletal and Cardiovascular Health: a Randomized Controlled Trial,” Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment, and Health (May 2011).