PowerliftingTechnique.com is independent and supported by our readers. We may earn a commission if you buy through the links below. For more, see our disclosures page.
When I decided to purchase a kettlebell, I quickly realized that there are so many types of kettlebells on the market and I had no idea what the differences were between styles or which one I needed – but the powder coat kettlebells and the competition kettlebells seemed to be the most popular options.
So what is the difference between a powder coat and a competition kettlebell? A powder coat kettlebell is made of cast iron and is painted with a coating to increase grip-ability. They are modestly priced and come in a range of shapes/sizes. A competition kettlebell is made of steel, does not have a coating, but is very durable. They are built to a standard size regardless of weight.
After doing some research I learned that each style of kettlebell is best suited to different styles of training, and increases in price based on the level of durability of the material.
In this article we’ll discuss the pros and cons of the powder coated kettlebells and the competition kettlebells, and which style is likely the best for you based on your style of training, and your budget.
Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means I earn from qualifying purchases.
Powder Coat Kettlebell: What Is it?
A powder coat kettlebell is made from cast iron and has a powder coating applied over the cast iron to prevent chipping, to increase our ability to grip the kettlebell, and to provide a surface that better retains chalk.
The powder coat kettlebells are popular amongst athletes interested in general fitness, because they can vary in size, shape and weight, suiting many different types of individuals and their lifting preferences.
The increased ability to grip the kettlebell is the most attractive quality for powder coat kettlebells because it is important to be able to hold onto the kettlebell without our hands slipping, especially if we’re performing higher-velocity movements like the kettlebell swing, snatch, or clean.
The powder coat kettlebells are not the cheapest option available for kettlebell users but they are also not the most expensive – they are moderately priced because they are used primarily by individuals who are training more frequently with kettlebells but are not competing in a kettlebell competition.
There's a difference between various ‘coating methods'. Check out my article discussing the differences between e-coat kettlebells and powder coat kettlebells.
Competition Kettlebell: What Is It?
Competition kettlebells are the gold standard for kettlebells because they are made of pure steel which is the most durable material, they are built to a standardized size regardless of the weight, and they are used in kettlebell competitions.
The competition kettlebells are primarily used by serious kettlebells athletes who are competing in kettlebell sport or performing more high-repetition crossfit-style workouts because they are built to a specific size that helps competition with their movement efficiency as the weight increases.
They are made of pure steel and contain no fillers (some kettlebells have a steel shell but are filled with sawdust and ball bearings to achieve their weight) which also increases the price, but makes the kettlebell more durable as well.
Powder Coat Kettlebell: Pros & Cons
- Increased Gripability
- More Budget-Friendly
- Great For General Fitness
Powder coating helps increase our ability to maintain our grip on the kettlebell when our hands are sweating.
The paint coating creates an improved texture that is ideal for maximizing our grip and also holds chalk better than any other kettlebell style which also assists in maintaining a strong grip on the kettlebell.
Powder coating kettlebells are more budget-friendly than competition kettlebells because they are made of cast iron instead of steel, which is a less expensive material.
The powder coating is more expensive than a regular cast iron kettlebell, but cast iron is usually always cheaper than steel kettlebells – even the steel kettlebells that contain fillers and are not pure steel.
Great For General Fitness
The powder-coated kettlebells are ideal for general fitness because they can accommodate a larger variety of movements.
The variation in sizing across different weights helps to accommodate both one-handed and two-handed kettlebell movements, which are generally used more often for general fitness training.
- Not Uniform In Size
- Not Ideal For Competitors
Not Uniform In Size
Powder-coated kettlebells are not ideal for those who want a kettlebell that is the same size regardless of the weight.
The powder-coated kettlebells change in size depending on which weight we use, and therefore are not the best option if we want consistency in kettlebell size to improve our movement efficiency.
Not Ideal for Competitors
The powder-coated kettlebells are not built for competitors, because they are not competition approved.
Powder-coated kettlebells are not made for competition use and therefore they are not the best option for those who want to compete. In fact, for anyone that wants to do more one-handed high repetition movements, this is likely not the best option.
My favorite powder-coated kettlebell is the Powder Coat Kettlebell from Kettlebell Kings, which has the best value for quality in the market today (click for details and current pricing).
Competition Kettlebell: Pros & Cons
- Uniform In Size
- Used In Kettlebell Sport
- The Most Durable
Uniform In Size
Competition kettlebells are built to certain specifications that help us to maintain our movement technique across changes in weight.
The competition kettlebells are perfect for those who are looking for movement consistency to eliminate variations in technique that would occur due to changes in kettlebell sizes with different weights in cast iron kettlebells.
Used In Kettlebell Sport
Competition kettlebells are used internationally in kettlebell sport and are therefore the perfect option for those looking to compete.
Kettlebell sport competitors should consider a competition kettlebell to get accustomed to training with the same style of kettlebell that they will use in competition. This will help them develop consistency with their technique and efficiency with their movements that can prevent higher levels of fatigue.
The Most Durable
Competition kettlebells are the most durable form of kettlebell because they are made of pure steel and do not contain fillers.
If we’re looking for the most durable kettlebell then we are going to want a competition kettlebell, because they will last the longest – which is ideal since they also cost the most.
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.
- More Expensive
- Not Great For General Fitness
- No Coating To Assist With Grip
The competition kettlebells are the most expensive type of kettlebell because they are made of pure steel and used internationally for kettlebell competitions.
If we are only interested in general fitness or we are on a budget, we may want to reconsider the competition kettlebell and instead look for options that are more budget-friendly.
Not Great For General Fitness
Competition kettlebells are not great for general fitness because their handle and window sizes are designed for one-handed movements.
If we are going to be performing more two-handed movement variations then the competition kettlebell is probably not our best option, as it is designed for higher repetitions of one-handed movements.
Kettlebell handles come in different sizes. Check out my other article on 33mm vs 35mm Kettlebell Handle Size.
No Coating To Assist With Grip
The competition kettlebells do not have a coating that increases its grip-ability and therefore may be harder to grip, especially once sweaty, than the powder-coated kettlebells.
The competition kettlebells are made of steel which is not textured in a way that would increase our grip or hold chalk, and therefore are likely harder to grip once we start to sweat. If we’re competing in kettlebell competitions, this is something we will just have to get used to.
My favorite competition kettlebell is the Competition Kettlebell from Kettlebell Kings, which is the absolute gold standard for those competing in Crossfit or Kettlebell sport (click for details and current pricing).
Which Type Of Kettlebell Is Best For You?
When To Choose The Powder Coat Kettlebell?
Get the powder coat kettlebell if:
- You want to save money
- You are going to do a lot of different movements with the kettlebell
- You struggle with grip
- You want a larger window size (you have large hands or want to do two-handed exercises)
If you are someone who is training for general fitness and wants to save some money then the powder coat kettlebell is a better choice for you. The cast iron may not be as durable as the steel kettlebell but it is still very durable, especially with the powder coating that gives an extra layer of protection.
The powder coating of the cast iron kettlebell is a game-changer from the standard cast iron kettlebells because of the increased ability to maintain our grip on the powder coating because of the textured surface. This also helps the kettlebell to hold chalk better which is exactly what I need when my hands start to sweat and my grip starts to fatigue.
Those who train for general fitness also tend to do a wider variety of movements that use one and two-handed grips, with one-handed movements usually being at lighter weights and two-handed movements being at heavier weights.
The changes in window size that happen across different weights for cast iron kettlebells is a benefit for those performing both one and two-handed movements, because we will have more space to grip with two hands at heavier weights
Check out my other article explaining the differences between Plastic vs Iron Kettlebells.
When To Choose The Competition Kettlebell?
Get the powder coat kettlebell if:
- You are a competitive Crossfit or Kettlebell sport athlete
- You plan on doing more one-handed movements
- If you want to practice with the same size of kettlebell despite the load
- You want a kettlebell that is more durable
- You don’t mind spending a bit of extra money
If you are planning to compete in kettlebell sport or are more into crossfit-style training then you will likely want to spend the money and invest in a competition kettlebell.
The competition kettlebell is a better option for these athletes because it has a smaller window size to increase movement efficiency for higher-repetition one-handed movements (snatch, clean, jerk, turkish get-ups) which is the basis for both kettlebell sport and crossfit movements.
The consistency in sizing is also a major benefit for those who train with higher repetition movements because we don’t have to change our movement patterns to work around sizing inconsistencies across different weights (like we would if we used a cast-iron kettlebell).
The competition kettlebell is not the best option for those who plan on doing more two-handed movements in their training because the window size is standardized to best accommodate one-handed movements; therefore, we may not be able to grip the competition kettlebell with two-hands, and if we can it probably won’t be comfortable.
Interested in learning more about kettlebells for two-handed movements? Check out our article on the Best Kettlebells For Two-Handed Swings.
We reviewed the best kettlebells for the money, and here are some of our favorite picks for powder-coated and competition kettlebells.
Powder Coated Kettlebells
1. Kettlebell Kings Powder Coat – Best Overall
The powder coat cast iron kettlebell from kettlebell kings has a larger window size than a competition-style kettlebell because it is intended to be used for more than just one-handed movements. It is more versatile, as its window size changes depending on the weight of the kettlebell.
If we are purchasing kettlebells for full-body training, it is probably best to buy two different kettlebells – one lighter weight with a smaller window size for upper body movements that typically require a one-handed grip, and one heavier weight with a larger window size for lower body movements that would require a two-handed grip.
This kettlebell is available in weights from 4kg-92kg and increases in window width from 81mm-173mm respectively
2. Amazon Yes4All Powder Coat – Best Budget Option
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.
Although this brand is more cost-effective, the downside to this product is that the weight range is limited and it is only available in pounds.
1. Kettlebell Kings Competition Kettlebell – Best Overall
The competition kettlebell from Kettlebell kings is an example of a competition-style kettlebell that is typically used for high repetitions of snatches, cleans, and jerks or any single arm movements.
It has a window width of 115mm and is the best kettlebell to purchase if we are interested in more one-handed movements and/or we plan to compete because it will allow us to practice with a kettlebell that has the right window size for the competition movements.
2. Amazon Competition Kettlebells – Best Budget Option
Although steel kettlebells are the most expensive style of kettlebell, amazon has multiple cheaper options for those who are interested in the uniform sizing of the steel kettlebells for kettlebell sport or high repetition training.
Other Kettlebell Resources
- Adjustable vs Standard 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 style of kettlebell we choose should be reflective of the style of training we are interested in, whether its general fitness or competition style training. But we also need to consider how much we’re willing to spend, if we’re using kettlebells almost every day then it makes sense to spend a bit more for a kettlebell that is more durable; if we’re only using it once in a while, it’s probably best to get the cheapest option.
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.