The handle size we choose for our kettlebell should reflect our training style, how much we want to spend, and how functional the kettlebell is going to be for us. If we choose the wrong handle size, we may be missing out on potential training benefits, while spending more money than we need to.
So what is the difference between the 33mm vs 35mm kettlebell? The 33mm kettlebell handle is for smaller hands, people who are interested in general kettlebell fitness training, or are more budget-conscious. The 35mm kettlebell handle is for people with larger hands, are competing in kettlebell sport, or are doing heavier overhead kettlebell movements.
When I was first introduced to kettlebell training, I didn’t know there was a difference between the handle sizes, but now that I know more about the value of the 33mm and the 35mm I am able to make an educated decision of which kettlebell is going to function the best for my style of training.
In this article I’ll discuss the pros and cons of both the 33mm and the 35mm handle, which one is likely the best option for you, and which style of kettlebells are available in these sizes.
Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means I earn from qualifying purchases.
What Type Of Kettlebell Comes In 33mm and 35mm Handles?
There are different types of kettlebells that come in 33mm and 35mm options, including steel and cast iron kettlebells.
Steel kettlebells are the only style of kettlebell that can be purchased with a 33mm and 35mm handle, regardless of the weight of the kettlebell.
Steel kettlebells that have 35mm handles are the kettlebells that are used internationally in competition for kettlebells.
The 33mm handled steel kettlebells are usually either a fitness edition kettlebell (usually contain fillers) or a version of a competition kettlebell that is not approved in all kettlebell sport organizations because of the variation in dimensions from the requirements of the sport.
Cast Iron Kettlebells
Cast Iron kettlebells are not consistent in their handle diameter, and instead, change their diameter depending on the weight purchased.
The only exception to this is the competition kettlebells from Rogue Fitness, which are the only “competition kettlebells” that are made of cast iron instead of steel. They are not approved for competition-use because of this, but they do have standardized dimensions of the kettlebells regardless of weight.
If we want a cast iron kettlebell but are concerned about the handle being too small or too big we can check to see if the company has a size guide that provides measurements depending on the weight we are interested in purchasing.
For example, Kettlebell Kings provide a size guide for their cast iron powder coat kettlebells which tells us that the 10kg, 12kg, 16kg, and 18kg kettlebells are available with a 33mm handle. It also shows that none of them have a 35mm handle, but larger handle diameters are available for 20kg-92kg kettlebells.
Not sure what the difference is between cast iron and steel kettlebells? Check out my other article on Cast Iron VS Steel Kettlebells.
33mm Kettlebell Handle: Pros & Cons
- Easier To Grip With Smaller Hands
- More Budget-Friendly
Easier To Grip With Smaller Hands
Kettlebells with a 33mm handle are better for those who have smaller hands because they will be able to get a full grip around the handle which is required for all kettlebell movements.
If we have smaller hands, we are going to prefer the 33mm because we will be able to have a more secure grip on the kettlebell, which we need to perform more high-velocity movements like one or two-arm kettlebell swings, snatches, and cleans.
The smaller handle diameter of 33mm decreases the risk of throwing the kettlebell across the room as a result of the grip being too wide for our hands.
The 33mm handled kettlebells are more budget-friendly than the 35mm version because they are not built to kettlebell competition standards, but vary in price depending on the style of the kettlebell.
There are two types of budget-friendly 33mm kettlebells:
- 33mm Fitness Edition Kettlebell
The 33mm kettlebell is a great option for those who are looking to save some money when purchasing a kettlebell, especially if we’re purchasing a fitness edition kettlebell.
The fitness edition kettlebells are made of steel but they usually contain fillers like sawdust and ball bearings to achieve the desired weight, instead of being made purely of steel.
An example of this type of Kettlebell is the Kettlebell Kings Fitness Edition (click for the current price on Kettlebell Kings).
- 33mm Competition Kettlebell
The competition kettlebells that have a 33mm handle are not approved for international competition despite being called a “competition kettlebell”, and are therefore cheaper than their 35mm counterpart. However, they will be more expensive than the 33mm fitness edition kettlebell because they are generally made of pure steel instead of containing fillers.
An example of this type of Kettlebell is the Kettlebell Kings Competition Kettlebell (click for the current price on Kettlebell Kings).
Key takeaways: If we’re looking to save some money but are interested in kettlebells with consistent dimensions regardless of weight, the fitness edition with a 33mm handle is our best bet. If we prefer a kettlebell made entirely of steel and no fillers, we will likely prefer the 33mm competition kettlebell.
- Not Ideal For Kettlebell Sport
- May Not Accommodate Larger Hands
Not Ideal For Kettlebell Sport
The 33mm kettlebell is not the best option for kettlebell competitors because it is not standardized and will not be as specific to the competition kettlebells for those who compete.
While competitors can certainly use the 33mm kettlebell, it will not be ideal because the kettlebell that will be used in a competition is a kettlebell with a 35mm handle; therefore, competitors should practice with the 35mm handle to be properly prepared.
If you’re looking for more kettlebell comparisons, then check out my article on Powder Coat vs Competition Kettlebells.
May Not Accommodate Larger Hands
Kettlebells with a 33mm handle may have a smaller window size, which may not be the most comfortable for those with larger hands.
If we are someone who has larger hands and we plan on performing more two-handed movements (goblet squats, swings, deadlifts), then we may not be able to comfortably fit both hands on the handle or within the window of the kettlebell.
35mm Kettlebell Handle: Pros & Cons
- Used Internationally For Kettlebell Sport
- More Comfortable In Overhead Movements
Used Internationally For Kettlebell Sport
A 35mm handled kettlebell is the best option for those who want to compete in kettlebell sport because it will be the same size as the one used in a kettlebell competition.
If we are planning on competing in a kettlebell competition we are going to want a kettlebell that is specific to the one we will use in a competition setting, in order to practice efficiently. For this reason, we should get accustomed to using a 35mm handled kettlebell to properly train our grip to become more fatigue resistant in the competition movements.
More Comfortable In Overhead Movements
The 35mm kettlebell handle is the best option for those who are going to be performing more overhead movements, especially for heavier overhead movements.
The wider handle is more comfortable in an overhead position because the wider handle will better distribute the force of the kettlebell over the palm of the hand in the racked position and the bottoms-up position.
If our training requires higher repetitions of overhead movements such as CrossFit or kettlebell sport, or we are performing frequent overhead accessories for weightlifting and powerlifting, we may want the 35mm handled kettlebell.
- May Increase Grip Fatigue
- Difficult To Grip For Smaller Hands
- More Expensive
Increased Grip Fatigue
The larger diameter of the 35mm kettlebell may cause more muscular fatigue in the hands and forearms, making it harder to maintain our grip – especially with high repetitions.
If we are training for kettlebell sport, we will have to get used to this level of grip fatigue and work through it, because it is the size of handle that will be used for competitions.
If we are not competing in kettlebell sport, we may want to avoid unnecessary grip fatigue and instead work with a kettlebell that is easier to grip (33mm) and is more suited to general fitness training (unless our primary goal is to increase grip strength, in which case the 35mm would be better).
Difficult To Grip For Smaller Hands
The larger diameter of the 35mm kettlebell handle is especially challenging for those with smaller hands because they may not be able to get a full grip on the kettlebell.
Without a full grip on the kettlebell, it will never feel secure – especially in movements that require more velocity and/or high repetitions.
The kettlebells with 35mm handles are more expensive because they are used for kettlebell competitions, have specific dimension requirements regardless of weight, and are made of pure steel (contain no fillers).
The kettlebells with the 35mm handles are competition kettlebells, and competition kettlebells are the most expensive kettlebells on the market because they are used by the most advanced kettlebell users, are of higher quality, and have more specific dimensions.
The 35mm competition kettlebells are an investment, which may make it too difficult to commit to buying multiple weights, which I recommend we all do to ensure we have weights appropriate for upper body movements and lower body movements.
How to care for your kettlebell and ensure it doesn’t get any rust is important. Check out our guide on How To Get Rust Off A Kettlebell, which also includes prevention tips.
Which Kettlebell Handle Diameter Is Right For You?
Here are the three considerations you need to make when deciding between the 33mm vs 35mm kettlebell:
- Intended Use
- Hand Size
If we are planning to compete in kettlebell sport we are going to need a kettlebell that has a 35mm handle because they are competition-style kettlebells and will be used when we compete.
If we are not competing in kettlebell sport and are using the kettlebell for general fitness instead, I recommend the 33mm over the 35mm because it will not be as fatiguing on the grip.
That being said, if we are training for general fitness and our primary goal is to increase grip strength, we may want a 35mm handled kettlebell.
If we need the best of the best to compete in kettlebell sport and/or money is of no issue for us, then it is worth spending more on a high-quality kettlebell such as the 35mm handled competition kettlebell.
If we want a kettlebell that is suited for general fitness training and we want a product that is more budget-friendly than the competition kettlebells, we should get a kettlebell with a 33mm handle that is generally called a fitness edition kettlebell.
The fitness edition kettlebell with a 33mm handle is cheaper than the 35mm competition kettlebell because they typically contain fillers such as sawdust and ball bearings rather than pure steel.
If we have small hands we may not be able to get a full grip on the kettlebells with the 35mm handle. If we’re trying to grip a handle that is too wide, our grip will fatigue faster, and may result in grip failure – which can be disastrous in high velocity movements like a kettlebell swing, snatch, clean.
For those with smaller hands that are not planning on competing, I suggest the 33mm handled kettlebells for ease of use.
For those with smaller hands that do plan to compete, the 35mm handle is something you’re just going to have to deal with to compete in kettlebell sport.
If we have larger hands, the 35mm handle will likely feel more secure and will distribute the weight of the kettlebell more comfortably in the racked position (a grip we use for overhead movements that places the handle in the palm and the bell resting on the wrist.forearm).
Product Recommendations: 33mm vs 35mm Kettlebell Options
We reviewed the best kettlebells for the money, and here are some of our favorite picks for 33mm and 35mm kettlebells.
The Kettlebell kings fitness edition kettlebell is the perfect option for those who are training for general fitness and want to save some money, while still getting the benefits of a standardized sizing across kettlebells despite being different weights.
The standardized dimensions help us get more efficient with our movements rather than having to change our movements to accommodate changes in size of the kettlebell.
Although this kettlebell does contain fillers rather than being made purely from steel, if we are not planning on dropping the kettlebell frequently, this is likely not something that will affect the durability of the kettlebell.
The KHTO Kettlebell is another option for those who are interested in a fitness edition kettlebell but are looking to save as much as possible.
Although these kettlebells are cheaper, they are still good quality because they are made with a single cast (all one mold, not welded together) and is made of steel which is the most durable material for kettlebells.
However, they are only available in pounds and have limited weight increments to choose from. If the weight we want is available, it will certainly be the more affordable option for steel kettlebells.
The kettlebell kings competition kettlebell is the gold standard for kettlebells because of the quality of the kettlebell which is made from a single cast (one mold, not welded together), is pure steel and contains no fillers, and is built specifically for kettlebell competitors or crossfit-style workouts.
Although it is the most expensive kettlebell, it is certainly built to withstand the test of time and will properly prepare those who plan to compete to move more efficiently in competition.
While competition kettlebells can be more expensive, Amazon does have a selection of competition kettlebells that are more budget-friendly.
However, we want to make sure that the angle size is actually 35mm despite being called a “competition kettlebell” because many of them are 33mm. They don’t make it easy to know, so if you want to be sure, go with the Kettlebell Kings Competition Kettlebell.
Other Kettlebell Resources
- Adjustable vs Standard Kettlebell: Pros, Cons, Differences
- E-Coat Kettlebell vs Powder Coat Kettlebell: Pros, Cons, Differences
- How To Keep Kettlebell From Hitting Your Wrist (7 Tips)
About The Author
Amanda Parker has a passion for competing and coaching in both powerlifting and weightlifting. She uses her knowledge from her Kinesiology Degree, CSCS, and Precision Nutrition certification to coach athletes and lifestyle clients for performance in training and nutrition. Connect with her on Instagram.