My Ironmaster Kettlebell review: 33 months of use

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I bought the Ironmaster Quick-Lock Adjustable Kettlebell Handle in March 2018 and have been using it in my garage gym every since.

It’s not my favourite piece of equipment and I do think of it as a luxury, but one I enjoy having access to none the less.

I’ve written a blog post on the Ironmaster quick-lock dumbbells previously, so I thought I’d take a critical look at the kettlebell handle as well.

Ironmaster Kettlebell Review: 33 months of use

At a glance…

  • The Ironmaster Kettlebell is the best adjustable option on the market
  • How useful a kettlebell is to you will depend on your unique training goals and style
  • If you have the Ironmaster dumbbells the kettlebell handle is a relatively cheap way to add a 10kg – 36kg range of kettlebells to your home gym
  • If you don’t own their dumbbells already remember to budget for weight plates to add to the kettlebell

Ironmaster Quick-Lock Adjustable Kettlebell Handle – is it worth it?

I paid £119 (plus delivery) for the kettlebell handle. Two and a half years on it is good to see that the price is unchanged – particularly as we sit in 2020 in the middle of a global pandemic which has spiked demand for home gym equipment!

BUT that was not what you wanted to know… The question was: is the adjustable handle worth it? The answer to that depends on what your current home gym set up is and what your training looks like:

  1. Training – if your training involves kettlebell work regularly then an adjustable handle is definitely worth it. If not then it is a luxury you will use occasionally.

For me kettlebell training is NOT a core part of my workout routines as I have been principally focused on strength training which tends to use barbells and, to a lesser extent, dumbbells. In truth I’ve dabbled in it for a few months here and there over the past couple of years, but in general I use the kettlebell for accessory work such as standing overhead tricep extensions. I also use it for weighted chin-ups and pull ups as it is perfect for hanging from a belt.

Ironmaster Kettlebell Unboxed - A simple but chunky design
Ironmaster Kettlebell Unboxed – A simple but chunky design

So on this point £119 looks expensive for the use I get out of it and it is probably not adding much to my training.

  1. Current equipment – if you already have Ironmaster weight plates, or were planning to buy them anyway then the kettlebell is a nice add-on as it makes the most of your existing set up. 

Fortunately I owned a set of Ironmaster Quick-Lock Dumbbells prior to buying the kettlebell handle. This meant all I needed was to buy the handle itself as I already had a full range of weight plates and quick-lock locking screws.

On this point the kettlebell handle was worth it to me – as the relatively small spend of £119 opened up the option of a FULL SET of kettlebells from 10kg to a mighty 36kg should I ever want to train with them.

Kettlebell handle with 10lbs of plates - using the expansion pack locking screw. Standard screw pictured
Kettlebell handle with 10lbs of plates – using the expansion pack locking screw. Standard screw pictured

So overall I am neutral on whether the handle was worth it with a win and a loss above. If you use (or would use) kettlebells regularly in your training the handle is ABSOLUTELY worth it, particularly if you already own the dumbbells and will therefore save massively on buying plates as well.

If you just want a new toy (like I did) it is a great luxury to have, but is far from an essential purchase.

What to look for in an adjustable kettlebell?

There are a ton of options out there in the market if you’re thinking of picking up an adjustable kettlebell. Everyone will have different circumstances and desires, but a few of the key areas I was looking out for were:

Space

An adjustable kettlebell is great for those of us with small spaces for our gyms as ONE item replaces a whole rack of kettlebells of different weights. This is doubly true if you already have the Ironmaster dumbbell stand as this slots nicely in to the existing footprint of that on the lower shelf.

Unloaded weight

Make sure the Ironmaster kettlebell is not TOO heavy to start with – with no plates or locking screws the handle on its own weighs 22.5lbs / 10.2kg. I find this absolutely fine for my purposes (as an accessory movement to my strength training programs) – but if you are used to lighter weights or you do some of the more kettlebell specific workouts I know these tend to start a fair bit lighter (4kg – 6kg) so this may be a little too much for you initially.

Kettlebell handle on its side - clearly marked 10.2kg
Kettlebell handle on its side – clearly marked 10.2kg

Quick and easy to change weights

Ironmaster have adopted the same unique quick-lock mechanism in their kettlebell as they have in their dumbbells. Essentially the locking screw has around a quarter of its circumference threaded which allows you to drop the screw down to roughly the desired height, locking it in place with around half a turn to utilise the threaded portion of the screw. Simple in execution, but due to protections this is NOT copied by imitators and is a genuine time saving over screwing in the whole locking pin as per traditional spin lock dumbbells. When secured the plates really are locked in and simply do not come loose.

Handle design and girth

Despite appearing so simple, a kettlebell is quite a complicated object with a lot of engineering required. Ironmaster have been through a number of models over the years and the current one (same as I have) can be used single handed, or comfortable two handed. The girth of the handle feels appropriate for a heavy kettlebell and I would say runs a fraction thicker than an Olympic barbell. The powder coating provides a perfect (and I don’t use this term lightly) amount of friction for rep work without being knurled or aggressive.

Ironmaster have the ergonomics of this handle just right - full grip pictured
Ironmaster have the ergonomics of this handle just right – full grip pictured

Shape and manoeuvrability when loaded

Despite using square plates the overall size when loaded is really compact, even when running 20kg+. I regularly use it for tricep overhead extensions and have zero issues with the size or shape as the square plates are so compact and uniform in width that they don’t stick out regardless of weight loaded. This makes the adjustable kettlebell easier to use than fixed weight ones which tend to be bulbous.

Lifetime warranty

Ironmaster stand by all their products and offer a lifetime warranty. Admittedly I struggle to see what could go wrong with a handle, but still it is reassuring to know the support is there if needed.

Ironmaster vs competitors: Best overall adjustable kettlebell?

In short – yes

Ironmaster have achieved the same trick they pulled with the dumbbells – they have created an adjustable variant that FEELS the same as the fixed weight equivalent that is completely locked in place when in use.

The quality of the product is brilliant sporting a really great, ergonomic design with the ingenious locking pins. Having the dumbbells already the synergy between the two is brilliant – particularly if you are heavily invested in the dumbbells so already have the add on packs which can be used here too.

That does bring us to the downside – cost. The handle itself is around £119, but on top of this you will need to add weight plates / locking screws to suit your needs. The 26kg kit is £109, with a further £89 needed to get to 36kg. For me £317 would be too much for the use I get (you may think otherwise based on your facts and circumstances), but as I already had the dumbbells with add on packs I only had to buy the handle – which is a great way to ‘save’ £198!

General picture of the Ironmaster Quick-Lock Kettlebell Handle on the stand
General picture of the Ironmaster Quick-Lock Kettlebell Handle on the stand

Are dumbbells better than kettlebells?

Depending what your goals are you may be trying to mentally tackle the ‘adjustable dumbbells vs kettlebells’ argument. The answer completely depends on your goals, but if I was forced to choose between my Ironmaster Dumbells and the kettlebell I would take the dumbbells every time. I use them in roughly two thirds to three quarters of my workouts. I tend to use the kettlebell sparingly and usually for arm or weighted chin/pull up style accessory work.

ALL OF THAT SAID, your goals may be specific to kettlebells, in which case my experience is probably not analogous to your own needs.

Conclusion

Rounding off this review of the Ironmaster Quick-Lock Adjustable Kettlebell it is fair to say that the product is impeccably well built and, if you have Ironmaster Dumbbells already, is a really neat add on for not a great deal of money.

Conversely if you tend to prioritise barbell training the kettlebell is probably a ‘nice to have’, particularly if you don’t have the dumbbells already as you would then need to buy the weights separately pushing the cost up. At that point I would rather invest the money in a barbell, some Olympic weight plates, a squat rack or similar.

Ultimately then it depends on your training style – for strength trainees this is a great accessory for… accessories! But if you’re deeply in to kettlebell training then this is the best adjustable kettlebell availableand would fit in to your garage gym nicely.

Check out the Ironmaster Kettlebell handle on their official site