When I first got involved in training with kettlebells I didn’t know when an adjustable or standard kettlebell was more beneficial, but I’ve learned that the benefit to one over the other depends on our training style, where we train, and how much money we’re willing to spend.
So, what is the difference between adjustable and standard kettlebells? Adjustable kettlebells are designed so the weight can be adjusted. They are cheaper in price and great for home gyms, but are less durable and don’t allow for heavier loads. A standard kettlebell does not have the option to adjust the weight. They are more pricey, but more durable, and can be used for heavier loads.
I found it confusing to decide which kettlebell style to purchase when I didn’t know much about the products, or how to determine if one is a better option over the other but after doing lots of research I learned a fair bit.
In this article, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of the adjustable and standard kettlebells and suggest which kettlebell style is the best for you.
Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means I earn from qualifying purchases.
Adjustable Kettlebell: Overview
An adjustable kettlebell is not a solid structure and instead is designed so that we can adjust the weight of the kettlebell by removing or adding weights to the frame.
There are different designs for adjustable kettlebells with the most common ones consisting of weight plates that can be added or removed to adjust the weight, but other models are designed to change weight by adding or removing sand or water.
Adjustable kettlebells are usually preferred by those who have a home gym, and are looking to save space and get the most versatility from one product. The adjustable kettlebell’s weight range and its increments vary across brands, but generally one kettlebell can be adjusted to weights of 10-40lbs.
Standard Kettlebell: Overview
A standard kettlebell is made to weigh a certain amount, and comes in many shapes and sizes depending on the style and brand.
The best standard kettlebells are made of cast iron or steel, which are both very durable materials (but steel is the most durable) and therefore will last for a long time.
We can purchase standard kettlebells based on the size, shape, and style of kettlebell we prefer (powder coat, standard cast iron, competition, fitness edition), at whatever weight we desire.
I believe that everyone who is incorporating kettlebell training into their program should have two different kettlebells of different weights – one that is lighter for upper body training, and one that is heavier for lower body training.
Standard kettlebells are typically preferred by those who own their own gyms, compete in crossfit or kettlebell sport, or simply use kettlebells more often for their training because they are of higher quality and are more durable.
Adjustable Kettlebell: Pros & Cons
- Budget Friendly
- Space Saving
Adjustable kettlebells are more budget friendly because we are spending less money to get multiple weights in one product, compared to buying separate kettlebells for each of these weights.
If we are looking to get the best bang for our buck then the adjustable kettlebell is definitely the way to go, especially for those who are new to kettlebell training and are not sure what weight to buy.
In addition, beginners will see progress quite quickly and therefore, the adjustable kettlebell solves the problem of having to buy another weight as we get stronger.
My favorite adjustable kettle is the Kettlebell Kings Adjustable Kettlebell.
The adjustable kettlebells are the best option for those who have a smaller space to work with and/or have limited amounts of weight storage.
The adjustable kettlebell is perfect for those who want to add to their home gym but do not have a lot of space to store multiple kettlebells.
The adjustable kettlebell will take up minimal amounts of space and still be versatile enough that we can train multiple movements but perhaps not at the weight we need if we’re relatively strong.
- Having To Change The Weight
- Less Durable
- Limited Weight Range
Having To Change The Weight
The adjustable kettlebells can be annoying because they require us to change the weights and it is not always the quickest to do, depending on the design of the kettlebell.
Although the adjustment is an advantage, sometimes the effort involved in constantly changing the weights is more annoying than helpful.
This is something we must decide for ourselves, but personally it does turn me off from the product because I generally use kettlebells for accessory exercises and if I want to superset exercises or use it for a circuit, it is just not possible.
Adjustable kettlebells are less durable than standard kettlebells because there are more working parts and therefore more pieces that can break or malfunction with repetitive use.
Although we are getting more weight options for the price, we should also be aware that the product itself may not last as long.
For this reason, we should evaluate whether the cheaper price of the adjustable kettlebell is worth it, even though the product will most likely not last as long as a standard kettlebell that does cost more upfront.
Limited Weight Range
The adjustable kettlebells are limited by the amount of weight that we can adjust to; typically they are between ten pounds to forty pounds.
This weight range may be sufficient for those who plan to only use kettlebells for upper body training, or for those who are beginners and do not yet require heavier weights for the lower body.
However, for those who are experienced in strength training, the adjustable kettlebell is likely not heavy enough to result in continued strength and power adaptations.
Standard Kettlebell: Pros & Cons
- More Durable
- Best Option For Competitors
- Larger Weight Range
Standard kettlebells are more durable than adjustable kettlebells because they are made from solid singlet-cast (non-welded) pieces of metal.
The durability is important because even though the standard kettlebells cost more they are going to last a long time – especially the steel kettlebells.
Standard kettlebells are less likely to be broken because they have no working parts that need to be adjusted, and the bell is solid and therefore can survive heavy usage without things shaking loose.
My favorite standard kettlebell is the Kettlebell Kings Cast Iron Kettlebell.
Best Option For Competitors
Standard kettlebells are the best option for competitors because they will be built more similarly to the kettlebells used in a competition.
The standard kettlebells made of steel called competition kettlebells are used in kettlebell sport and therefore are the best option for those looking to compete.
They are designed to enhance movement efficiency because the window size is slightly smaller to accommodate one-handed high repetition movements, and the kettlebells are a consistent size regardless of the weight. These design factors are beneficial for both kettlebell and crossfit competitions.
Although standard kettlebells made from cast iron do not have the same qualities as the steel kettlebells, they will still be more specific than the adjustable kettlebells for those competing.
Check out my other article explaining the differences between Plastic vs Iron Kettlebells.
Larger Weight Range
Standard kettlebells are available in a larger weight range and therefore accommodate more lifters of all levels of strength.
If we want heavier weights for the lower body and lighter weights for the upper body then we have the freedom to do so with standard kettlebells, because they are made in a large range of weights and in many increments.
With standard kettlebells we are not limited to a set range of weights, because we can choose any weights we want depending on the movements we intend to use them for.
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.
- Takes Up More Space
- More Expensive
Takes Up More Space
Standard kettlebells take up more space than adjustable kettlebells because most people with standard kettlebells have more than one to increase the variety of movements they can do.
With standard kettlebells we are sacrificing space for a larger variety of weights and movements that we can use.
If we don’t have much space then having multiple kettlebells may not be our best option; however, two kettlebells would set us up for many options – if we have one heavy and one light kettlebell, we can likely do a number of both upper and lower body movements.
Standard kettlebells are the more expensive option because of the material they are made from, and because we will likely need more than one.
Standard kettlebells are an investment and so if we are looking for the most budget-friendly option then they may not be the best choice; although, they will last a long time so we should consider that as well.
Which Style Of Kettlebell Is The Best For You?
When To Get An Adjustable Kettlebell
An adjustable kettlebell is ideal for those who have a home gym, are looking to save space, and require a smaller range of weights for their kettlebell training.
The adjustable kettlebell is the most affordable option for those looking to have multiple weights of kettlebells, it is perfect for individuals looking to supply their home gym as it will not take up as much space as owning the same weight range in standard kettlebells.
The adjustable kettlebell does have a limited weight range but if we are intending on using it for upper body exercises then it is likely the ideal range (~10lbs-40lbs). It could also be a good range for lower body exercises if we are a beginner.
Takeaway: If we’re looking to save money, save space, and get multiple weights all in one structure – the adjustable kettlebell is our best option.
When To Get A Standard Kettlebell
A standard kettlebell is ideal for those who are competing in kettlebell sport or crossfit, are using a larger range of kettlebells, and are looking for a long-term investment.
Standard kettlebells are going to last for a long time because they are more durable than adjustable kettlebells, so although they come with a higher price tag they are worth it for those who are going to be using them more often in their workouts.
Standard kettlebells can be purchased at whatever weight we need and therefore, are great options for those who need different weights depending on the movements they are performing.
With standard kettlebells we can get weights heavy enough to challenge the lower body, instead of having to use weights more suited for upper body training instead.
For example, I use a heavier kettlebell for 2 arm swings, goblet squats, and weighted lunges but I use a lighter kettlebell for tukrish get-ups, bent-over rows, and snatches – these movements are so different in terms of the weights I need, and I wouldn’t be able to get both of these weights with an adjustable kettlebell.
Takeaway: If you’re like me and need two different weight ranges for upper body and lower body movements, or if you prefer a kettlebell that is more efficient for CrossFit and kettlebell sport – the standard kettlebell is going to be the best choice.
Adjustable Kettlebell vs Standard Kettlebell: Product Recommendations
We reviewed the best kettlebells for the money, and here are some of our favorite picks for adjustable vs standard kettlebells.
1. Kettlebell Kings Adjustable Kettlebell – Best Overall
The adjustable kettlebell from kettlebell kings is a higher quality adjustable kettlebell that has a weight range from 10 to 40 lbs with 7 increments (10,15,20,25,30,35,40lbs).
It is on the pricier side, but that is because kettlebell kings is the gold standard of kettlebells.
They do have a great return policy if anything does happen to malfunction, or we are unhappy with the product itself.
2. Amazon Adjustable Kettlebell – Best Budget Option
The amazon version of the adjustable kettlebell is very similar to the kettlebell kings version, consisting of an identical weight range from 10 to 40lbs with 7 increments (10,15,20,25,30.35.40), at a lower price.
I cannot speak to the durability of this product but it does seem to have positive reviews from buyers, and should do the trick for those who want to save space.
1. Kettlebell Kings Cast Iron – Best Overall
One of the most popular standard kettlebells is the kettlebell kings powder-coated cast iron kettlebell, because it increases the grippability of the kettlebell and the coating is the perfect base for applying chalk.
It is a great option for those interested in training for general fitness by accommodating one-handed and two-handed movements with window size increasing as the weight increases.
Interested in learning more about kettlebells for two-handed movements? Check out our article on the Best Kettlebells For Two-Handed Swings.
2. Amazon Cast Iron – Best Budget
The yes4all brand is a more budget-friendly option for a cast iron kettlebell that is still powder coated to help increase the grip, and allow for better chalking of the kettlebell.
The downside to this product is that the weight range is limited and it is only available in pounds.
Other Kettlebell Resources
- 33mm vs 35mm Kettlebell Handle: Which One Should You Get?
- Powder Coat vs Competition Kettlebells: Pros & Cons
- E-Coat Kettlebell vs Powder Coat Kettlebell: Pros, Cons, Differences
- How To Keep Kettlebell From Hitting Your Wrist (7 Tips)
- Best 5 Kettlebells For Small Hands
- Kettle Gryp Review: Pros, Cons, Is It Worth It?
- 7 Best Kettlebell Swing Alternatives (With Pictures)
- 5 Best Competition Kettlebells (Crossfit or Kettlebell Sport)
- Kettlebell Gloves or Chalk: Which Is Better? (Pros & Cons)
- 5 Best Kettlebell Gloves To Protect Your Hands
- Best 5 Kettlebells For Two-Handed Swings
- 3 Best Rubber-Coated Kettlebells
- 7 Best Kettlebell Apps For Both iOS & Android
- How To Chalk A Kettlebell Properly (4 Steps To Follow)
The adjustable kettlebell and standard kettlebell are both great options but one can definitely be better than the other depending on our level of training, the amount of space we have, how much we’re willing to spend, and the movements we plan to use it for.
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.