I’ve been using premium, military-grade, DragonDoor RKC (Russian Kettlebell Challenge) kettlebells since 2005 and they’ve withstood years of use and abuse by me. So far, I’ve officially purchased 2 x 53 pound kettlebells, 1 x 70 pound kettlebell and most recently, the “Beast”, a 106 pound version. I’ve also tried other brands, but they don’t measure up in terms of quality.
I first learned about this strength and conditioning tool when I was reading my buddies’ FHM, Rolling Stone and Maxim magazines during army training back in 2003. If you don’t know already, kettlebells are weights that look like a cannon ball with a U-shaped handle on it. They can be swung, lifted for strength and cardio. You can perform deadlifts, presses, cleans, jerks just to name a few exercises.
I was intrigued to read that Russian Spetsnaz (special forces) used this tool to condition their troops, which gave them an edge over their adversaries. They performed exceptionally well in standard military physical tests without actually practicing push-ups and running. In addition, US troops took them to Iraq, Afghanistan and they held up. Cognizant of the marketing and still intrigued, I still decided to fork over my hard-earned cash in 2005.
DragonDoor Kettlebell Pros
- Portable and made from military-grade cast iron
- Rust-resistant e-coat
- Strength and conditioning all in one package
- Strengthens the shoulders, forearms, grip and especially great for the back, hamstrings, tendons, ligaments
- Saves on gym membership fees; one or two bells is all you need in the short term
- Lighter bells can be used for injury-prevention, healing and cardio, whereas, heavier bells are used for maximal strength
- DragonDoor is a company with strong links to military, law enforcement, martial artists and the first company to launch kettlebells in North America, 2001
I found the 53-pounder to be made of high-quality cast iron. Cast iron was highly valued back in the frontier days of the USA and cast iron is used in today’s better kitchen utensils. The Pavel Tsatsouline-approved dimensions and proportions of the bell felt ‘balanced’ and the thick handle was great for grip work. The smooth expoxy coating gave the bell a smooth shine and protected it from rust. This size is perfect for martial artists and athletes.
DragonDoor’s Solid One-Year Warranty
I ordered another 53-pounder the next year and found the coating wasn’t as smooth. Half the handle was covered in smooth epoxy coating and the other half of the handle had less of a coating. I invoked my yearly warranty and DragonDoor sent me a new one free of charge to which I was satisfied with! They paid for the bell, shipping and cross-border brokerage fees to Canada.
I ordered a 70-pound kettlebell in 2007 and requested a smooth handle. The bells are smooth, but I think they left half of the underside of the handle rougher to create better grip. Nevertheless, I was happy with my purchase. In 2008, I moved and I left my 70-pound kettlebell outdoors for an entire winter! At spring, I brought it back inside and wiped off some of the rust and it was good as new. I knew I bought quality and tough bells. I learned that you could drop these bells off of a ladder and they’d still be intact.
As of recent, I purchased a 106-pound kettlebell for my Simple & Sinister program. DragonDoor had a flash summer sale and I took the plunge. It was expensive as hell and I wouldn’t have purchased it had I not known of DragonDoor’s customer service, warranty and quality.
The bell arrived in tough, corrugated cardboard packaging. I noticed the bell isn’t as smooth or shiny. They’ve probably refined their epoxy coating technique to create a balance between textured grip and smooth handles. I was pleased with my purchase and I well know that if anything happens, this kettlebell has a one-year warranty, which DragonDoor will honour.
I’ve tried various brands of kettlebells before. I don’t recommend:
- Cheap Chinese knock-offs
- Vinyl/rubber coating that could dangerously bounce when dropped
- Rough, exposed, bare metal kettlebells
- Unbalanced dimensions or proportions
I recommend DragonDoor RKC kettlebells if:
- You are serious about kettlebell training and your own physical fitness
- Preferably live in the USA to keep down shipping, brokerage fees
- Want premium quality bells that you can literally pass onto the next generation
- Save on gym fees and travel time
- Want an edge over your competitors
- Bridge the gap between barbell and bodyweight training
For Canadians, I tried a local brand and a North American brand that had a good reputation. While they got the dimensions and proportions correct, they lack the smooth epoxy coating. In the future, I’ll write more about a Canadian shipping-friendly brand. You can use dumbbells. Although I do agree with the adage that you’ll get 75% of the benefits out of a dumbbell versus a kettlebell.
I follow the Simple & Sinister program, which is what I generally recommend above all else. For men, you’ll need the following progression to the complete the Simple goal of 100 swings in 5 minutes, 10 Turkish Get-Ups in 10 minutes using 70 pounds.
- 35 pound (16 kg) kettlebell
- 53 pound (24 kg) kettlebell
- 70 pound (32 kg) kettlebell
If you do decide to accomplish the Sinister goals, which is the same as above, but with 106 pounds, you’ll need the following:
- 88 pound (40 kg) kettlebell
- 106 pound (48 kg) kettlebell
As a matter of advice, don’t begin double kettlebell training (great for bulking) unless you’ve gotten your ‘black belt’ in single kettlebell training (1 – 2 years by my estimates/reaching the 106 pound goal). Regardless, kettlebells build a physique similar to “Laurent Delvaux’s statue, Hercules: broad shoulders with a hint of pecs, back muscles standing out in bold relief, wiry arms, rugged forearms, a cut-up midsection, and strong legs, without a hint of squat-induced chafing.”
Here are some of the free workouts with kettlebells in my Recommend Resources page that you can do:
- 3-5 Method for Special Weapons & Tactics Teams
- Total Strength & Conditioning Package
- Greasing the Groove for the Fighting Man
- Marine Force Recon Workout
- Kettlebell Drills for Travellers Who Wear Heavy Packs & Bags
- Kettlebell Ladder Swing Routine
- Simple & Sinister Swing Volume Variability
- If You Don’t Have Heavier Kettlebells Yet
- Simple & Sinister
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