A vat of kettle bells

Hollow 2-pound plastic kettle that can be filled with water (12 pounds), sand (18 pounds) or metal shot (49 pounds).
(The Art of Strength)

The growing popularity of kettle bells, the primitive-looking bowling-balls-with-handles that deliver a great all-body workout, has given rise to similar products with more flexibility. Available now are weight-changeable kettle bells that can be customized to new fitness levels, for different family members or even during a workout — so you don’t have to own more than one. Below, find four innovative ways to throw your weight around. — Roy M. Wallack

Quick-change swinger

Weider Adjustable PowerBell: Multi-part adjustable kettle bell made of a handle/frame and six dedicated weight plates that can be removed or added in seconds.

Likes: It works perfectly. The design is handsome and efficient; just slide a spring-loaded handle on the top and release the desired number of plates. It’s safe because the handle can’t be moved unintentionally. Two models are available: the 40-pound max, with a 10-pound handle/frame and a half-dozen 5-pound weights, and the 20-pound max, with a 5-pound handle and 21/2-pound plates. Both come with a workout DVD and a healthful-eating guide.


Dislikes: It works fine for standard swings and dead lifts, but overhead presses are a no-go; the cylindrical (not spherical) shape, horizontal plate stacking and sharp plastic top edge uncomfortably scrapes your forearm when flipping it over to the back of your hand. It rattles a bit, and the 1-inch-wide handle is thinner and less comfortable than that of a normal kettle bell.

Price: $249.99 (40-pound); $99 (20-pound). (888) 308-9617;

Plastic Fantastic

U-Fill-It Kettlebell: Hollow 2-pound plastic kettle that can be filled with water (12 pounds), sand (18 pounds) or metal shot (49 pounds).


Likes: Very user friendly. The smooth, hard, rounded plastic and thick handle feel great in your hands. It glides smoothly across your skin at all times. It fills easily through a 21/2-inch-wide port on the bottom; the threaded plug is locked tight with a dedicated four-pronged wrench. Quite durable and leak-free when tightened properly, and it did not crack after dropping it during juggling and hand-to-hand drills.

Dislikes: Switching between weights during the workout, as done easily with the Weider, would be a messy hassle, requiring dumping the water and pouring in a bag of sand or shot. Beware misplacing the wrench, because hand-tightening the plug could be leaky.

Price: $49. (866) 89-Punch;

BYOP (Bring your own plates)


Kettlestack: Handled device with minimalist frame that allows you to bolt on your own weight plates. Includes a standard Allen wrench, a center axle to hold the weights and a variety of male/female bolts.

Likes: It works just like a regular kettle bell, which can grow with your fitness as you add weight plates. I cannibalized some old dumbbells and built a 321/2-pound kettle bell out of four 5-pound plates and five 21/2-pounders. It looked ugly and primitive, but my rounded plates didn’t feel uncomfortable on presses, like the Weider. Weights above 85 pounds will require wider axles ($12).

Dislikes: Sharp-edged plates would not feel good against your skin. Changing weights during a workout is slow compared with the Weider, but simple and fast enough to adjust for another user.

Price: $55. (866) 423-0922;


Sandbagging It

Sandbells: Not a kettle bell but a soft, handleless, nylon-coated neoprene sack filled with sand or shot that you grab at the edges and use for kettle bell movements — and more.

Likes: Strenuously works your hands and fingertips. The precarious grip and shifting sand add a new level of difficulty to “easy” movements, such as swings. It encourages the creation of challenging exercises, such as swinging overhead, 10-foot throws or downward ground slams. I did 20 throws with the 30-pounder and was gasping for breath. House-friendly, the tough but soft, bag won’t rip and will not dent hardwood floors. Available in weights from 2 to 50 pounds. It’s adjustable — you can pour sand in or out, altering weight and grip. (Optional funnel is $2.) It can be emptied for travel.

Dislikes: Might be too much work for some. The hand fatigue shortens the exercise duration. No DVD is included, although several Sandbell workouts are found on YouTube.


Price: 10-pounder (empty $16.99; filled $18.69); 20-pounder ($39.99, $43.99); 30-pounder ($59.99; $65.99). (888) 460-0628;

Wallack is the author of “Run for Life: The Breakthrough Plan for Fast Times, Fewer Injuries, and Spectacular Lifelong Fitness.”