Cast Iron vs. Competition Kettlebells


Now that kettlebells have grown in popularity and become a fitness industry buzzword, there are dozens of different types being sold on the internet – which can be daunting for a first-time kettlebell purchaser! But have no fear: this article will shed light on the differences between different types of kettlebells and help you determine which type is right for you. Two of the most common options on the market are cast iron kettlebells and competition kettlebells. Each has a unique set of characteristics ideal for different types of training. Both are incredible tools that will last a lifetime if purchased from a reputable manufacturer 

First and foremost, avoid plastic or vinyl kettlebells as well as kettlebells that are cast as two pieces of material. Both competition and cast iron kettlebells are constructed from one piece of steel, in the case of competition kettlebells, or cast iron, the case of cast iron kettlebells. This single cast means movements are more stable and you can more reliably swing, clean, and flip your kettlebell without worrying about the base and handle separating.

Competition kettlebells are composed of steel, as opposed to cast iron, meaning they are slightly more durable than cast iron kettlebells. However, cast iron kettlebells have more coating options that are not usually available for competition kettlebells. These options include powder coating or cerakote coating, which can increase the durability of your cast iron kettlebell in a way that is on par with competition kettlebells. Both are incredibly durable pieces of equipment that are designed to resist rust, breakage, and chipping 

Competition kettlebells are universally color-coded to signify the different weights, so you can find the weight you need at a glance. Competition kettlebells are all the same size regardless of weight, which means they are ideal for practicing highly technical movements like the Turkish Get Up or high-repetition exercises such as the Snatch. The handles of competition kettlebells are uniform as well. The window of the bell handle has more of a rectangular shape, and the handle diameter is smaller than cast iron kettlebells. The reason for this is a smaller handle reduces grip fatigue, which is incredibly important in competitive kettlebell lifting. Competition kettlebell handles are more porous than cast iron handles, which allows them to absorb chalk better, which is also essential for high-repetition exercises. 

Cast iron kettlebells are often preferred by beginners because most beginners start with movements that require two hands on the handle – such as deadlifts, two arm swings, goblet squats – which can be difficult with competition kettlebells if you have big hands. Additionally, getting two kettlebells between your legs for double kettlebell lifts with competition kettlebells is more challenging because of their larger size. However, movements where you need stability on the floor – such as push ups, plank rows, dips, etc – work better with competition bells, especially if you are using lighter weights. Competition kettlebells have wide and flat bases that make them perfect for floor work. Light cast iron kettlebells have small bases, which can be unstable when putting your full weight on them on the floor. 

If you plan to do high-repetition sets in your workouts or do a lot of focused technique work, the competition kettlebell is your best bet. If you prefer to build strength and power at a lower price point, you should consider purchasing a cast iron kettlebell. And remember that the purpose of both types of kettlebells is to utilize them for total body workouts that build lean muscle and increase cardiovascular endurance – and that can be done with either type of kettlebell.