I have been meaning to write this for a while, as I get a lot of questions from people as to the right kind of kettlebell to use. Here in Japan (and anywhere in the world for that matter), if you jump on the internet, you will most certainly find other brands and types that are cheaper than the ones I use. A kettlebell is a kettllebell, right?
The design of this device is critical to your ultimate success and progress as an athlete. And perhaps most critically of all, the design of the handle is key.
Today I will take the time to explain. I will use the types currently available in Japan as a guide.
Extreme Triangle handle type, bevelled grip. – The cheapest available. My answer- ouch. Definitely designed by someone who has never done kb work. Thanks to the sharp angles of the handle, this thing is not going to move smoothly in your hand if you try anything beyond a kettlebell swing. More than that, in order to hold it, you will find yourself compromising your natural wrist position almost immediately, leading you closer to potential injury. If its of any size/weight, you will find turkish get ups and any other big movements a chore as they just dont “sit” naturally. Finally, the textured grip of the handle will act like sandpaper on your hands, rapidly wearing away your skin as you try to clean or snatch it. Try a five minute set of snatches….not.
My advice- regardless of how cheap they are- don’t buy them. And dont say I didnt warn you :).
The Bodymaker– aka- “the copy”. Is exactly as described ( ie, a copy), but a poor one at that and made by someone who has obviously never really swung a bell for any length of time. The handles are roughly finished, with mould seams under the handle waiting to cause you pain and rips when you try to snatch it. The handle design is too short, still too triangulated and too close to the handle, causing difficulties when cleaning the bell to the chest and not allowng the bell to move freely around your grip as you move in more complex movements.
And the Rubber handle version bell- I am not going to even bother telling you anything about this baby :) Next!
The RKC type bell– This is your base, reliable, workhorse bell. Its made to RKC standards which are high, and ensures that the handle is smooth and the bell sits well in the main positions – enough room in the handle for two hand swings, sits well in the “rack” position, and moves well enough around your arm when doing more complex movements, snatch, tgu etc.
Many people are happy with this kind of bell and get great results with them. All your RKC certifications are done with them- that speaks volumes in itself. They were the first bells I ever owned.
The only disadvantages that I can state personally are in the handle design for long cycle/ competition style sets, and the fact that the bells are different sizes according to weight, which means that as you move up, your body has to re-learn the position of using the weight in position/ rack etc. But for many, this isnt a problem- it all depends on personal taste.
The pro- series bell– exactly as it says- this baby can do it all. One common shell size means that once the body has gotten used to moving and holding the bell in position, all you need to adjust to is extra weight as you go up.
The handles are taller and squarer than the other types of bells, finished to a high buff smooth surface and more roomy. This allows the bell to move extremely freely in your grip and rest comfortably against your body in all positions, which is critical for all advanced movements like competition style lifts and timed sets. Want to do a ten minute set of swings? No problem- this bell will move smoothly in your hands and wont get in your way at all. They are designed to help you just focus on the task at hand, hence at any major girevoy competition, this is the standard bell in use. Ten minute long cycle sets, snatch records and the jerk- this is the basic tool.
You do need to keep and eye on the handles, and “condition” them once in a while to keep their smooth surface ready for work.
Any other bells out there are variations of the theme above. Good and bad- look before you leap and don’t get cheated.
The choice of course is always yours, but my advice is, if you want to do things properly, get the right equipment to help you achieve your goals.