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How to Buy a Good KB
by Neil Anderson
Wondering what to look for in a good kettlebell? After putting thousands upon thousands of swings on ours, we've learned a thing or two about getting a good one. Here are some of our suggestions.
1. Find a KB with handles just large enough to grip with both hands. Too little - you'll get blisters on your pinkies. Too large and it'll smack your thighs on the swing through.
2. Get a grip that suits the size of your hand. Some KBs have thick handles. These work well if you have large hands. If you have small hands you are trying to wrap around thick handles, your grip will give out before your body does. This limits the benefits of the KB movements to strengthening your hands only. Your body won't get as much. Conversely, if you have large hands and you are trying to fit them around small handles, your nails will dig into your palms.
3. Try to find solid cast KBs. Sometimes when you get tired, you'll drop your KB. If it is made from several pieces, it is more likely to break. We've also heard of these things coming apart in the air while someone was swinging them.
4. Nix the rubber and vinyl coating. It does not protect your floors from drops. It also prevents the KB from swinging naturally in your hands due to the extra grip they provide. Extra grip = extra blisters. Back to the the rubber and vinyl: these coverings are the first things to wear out on a KB. It makes them uglier and it is impossible to read the markings.
5. Don't buy painted KBs. We made that mistake (pictured below) in the name of conserving $. Eventually the paint will chip and leave sharp edges. Not such a pleasant experience on a 200 swing day!
6. Check that your KB has a smooth handle. It needs to be absent knurling, and casting seams should be ground down. Manufacturers who leave burrs and high or depressed seams show their ignorance for the needs of their customers. Makes you wonder if they've ever even swung a KB before.
7. Look for a bell with a wide, flat surface on the bottom. It makes the KB more versatile. You can be more confident doing pushups & etc. on them. You'll also be comforted to know that when you put them down and walk away, they'll likely be there when you get back.
8. It is best to find KBs with clear markings. You'd think it'd be easy to identify KBs by looking at them. You'd think, "only an idiot would pick up the wrong KB and start swinging." You'd be wrong about this. Sometimes in the heat of a WO you'll grab a bigger and/or smaller bell and just go to town. Personally, this messes with my OCD to the point where I can't live with it. Clear raised or depressed markings can literally save a workout (at least, in my case).
Cap KB on the L (chipped paint, hard to read). Apollo on the R.