The Battle of the Kettlebells, Kettlebell Review and Comparison

Published: 18th February 2009
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A kettlebell is a kettlebell, right? NO! Kettlebell training is getting more and more popular thanks to the effectiveness and efficiency of the workout. From strength and power to stamina and flexibility, kettlebell training delivers. Many people are now looking to take their kettlebell training to the next level, which means you need a kettlebell. But which one should you get?

It wasn't long ago that you only had a couple of choices when looking to buy a kettlebell. Fortunately, this is America, the land of freedom and choices. In recent years, a variety of new kettlebell manufacturers have popped up, lowering the price and increasing the quality and selection of kettlebells to choose from.

From Dragondoor to Lifeline to MuscleDriver to Troy to Apollo, one can find kettlebells almost anywhere, even at your local sports retailer sometimes. So where should you buy? Which kettlebells are the best? What size should you get? Hopefully this article will shed a little light. I will be discussing the following kettlebells and the pros and cons of each one:




-Apollo Kettlebells


-Power Systems

Most people who want to buy a kettlebell turn to Dragondoor first. These kettlebells are very well made and are considered to be one of the highest quality kettlebells for a reason. They have a slight grittiness but are smooth at the same time, making high rep ballistic exercises like snatches and swings possible without tearing apart your hands. They are made as one piece so there is no welding or attaching of any kind. There is a good amount of room in the handle, but not a terribly large amount.

Even with all the positives of Dragondoor kettlebells, there are still some negatives. The epoxy covering is great for the lighter bells, but once you get into the 70lb+ range, they become a little harder to grip. This can be interpreted as a good or bad thing depending on your idea of a challenge, but for me, I like my heavier kettlebells to a have a bit more grittiness so I can get a better grip. Not to mention the handle is a little small for me (and I don't even have big hands). The biggest issue is the price. Everyone understands that quality costs more, but the markup on these kettlebells might not be justified by the difference in quality from much cheaper alternatives.

MuscleDriver has a few different lines, but the best ones are the Gray Series. These have a detachable rubber piece on the bottom which is good for people who don't want to scuff up their floors. The kettlebell is welded at the handle (not manufactured as one piece); even so, the handle size is good. They get a little taller than wider in the heavier kettlebells so stability can be an issue during heavy renegade rows. The grip is very slick and quite small, not a good combination for heavy snatches. Otherwise, it's a decent kettlebell at a good price. The only other issue is the fact that they are frequently out of stock, so you might have to wait a while to get your new kettlebell.

Lifeline kettlebells are decent when it comes to the heavier ones. Their slightly gritty texture makes using them an enjoyable experience. Upon receiving my 53lb, however, I noticed the grittiness was a little too much. This made high rep snatches and swings unpleasant. They have a good handle size and are well-balanced though. Smaller kettlebells (18lb) sometimes have an uneven shape handle that you will definitely feel after a few sets. Again, a decent kettlebell at a decent price.

Apollo kettlebells are very similar to MuscleDriver in color, texture, and the fact that they have a removable rubber piece on the bottom. The lighter kettlebells (35lb and under) are good, but the heavier bells sometimes have uneven, odd-shaped handles making high rep work a little uncomfortable. Heavier kettlebells become a little too tall, making them slightly unstable. Good handle width, but the handle thickness is a little small. These are some of the cheapest kettlebells available, but the handle quality leaves something to be desired. Even so, a good value for the price.

Troy kettlebells feel very similar to Dragondoor with a good gritty-to-smooth ratio. A major plus is the wide width of the handle which makes it very easy to get a grip with both hands for two-handed swings. It has a great balance and it's not too tall or short. The only downside is that they come in untraditional kettlebell sizes. Rather than poods (Russian measurement), they come in 5lb increments and 80lb is the largest kettlebell available. They start at a 10lb kettlebell, increase in 5lb increments through 60lb, then in 10lb increments to 80lb. This can be a tough transition if you have been using traditional kettlebell sizes, but the quality and price of the kettlebell might make it worth it. The price is very competitive, making it a good Dragondoor alternative.

Power Systems are kettlebells that should be outlawed in my opinion. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but if you bought one, you would know why. They are the only kettlebells available in a gym that I train at and anyone using more than 25lbs leaves complaining of ripped up calluses. The handle is uneven and way too gritty. Even with the lower price, they are definitely not worth the money. Go with an Apollo Athletics kettlebell if you want to save some money.

This was just a sample of a few kettlebells that I have come across, but I hope this helps in your quest to find the perfect kettlebell. As I try out more kettlebells I will write about them in hopes of helping a few people find a kettlebell to be excited to work with and proud to call there own.

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