Monday, August 2, 2010
The Ironmaster Kettlebell Review
Okay, I sold out. I admit it! I had $1,200 extra sitting around in my bank account after working in California, making prevailing wage. I improvise most of my training equipment. Now that I had money, I wanted some nice training equipment. So, maybe my anti-equipment rants was all bullshit because I was a cheap-ass without money. THE MONEY WENT TO MY HEAD AND CHANGED ME!
Okay, I'm kidding so please don't go running off to another blog. I had some practical considerations for buying an Ironmaster Kettlebell. I've mentioned in the past that I have some practical reasons for Kettlebell ownership. Well, I wanted to buy a heavier KB for a little while. I decided to look around and see if anyone made a decent adjustable weight KB. It's a little thin out there. There are handles that you can buy to use with weight plates. While I never got my hands on one, I wasn't really thrilled by what I saw in the pictures. They look kind of cheap. Weider started making an adjustable KB... that goes all the way up to 20 lbs.
Moving right along...
Then I spotted the Ironmaster, ironically, in a Weider magazine (my wife bought it for me when I was puking my brains out because she wanted to cheer me up. She doesn't know any better, guys. She was just trying to cheer me up. HONEST!). I looked it up on the web, did some research, and liking what I saw, I ordered the handle and the extra weight plates. In time, I'll get the final set. Take a look at the links and then we'll talk...
Okay, I'm going to be an asshole and start out with what I don't like about this KB. When I first opened the package, the weight plates had that smell and feel like the paint hadn't fully dried. We all know what that means: some of the paint rubbed off. Also, the plates and the handle have a lot of casting marks on them. I double-checked the weight of this KB and it was, as advertised, 57.5 lbs. Okay so, this isn't the most attractive piece of equipment I'll ever own.
Then again, I hope that we don't buy these to be pretty, little gym ornaments. We buy them to use them! These cosmetic complaints pale in comparison to how this KB WORKS and frankly, it works great! While the aesthetic finish leaves something to be desired, the working parts of this KB are practically flawless!
The handle has got to be the most important part of any KB and, far too often, they all leave something to be desired. Some KB's have a ridge of metal inside the window on the handle. You may not notice it until you start using it. Ironmaster doesn't have that. Even better, the Ironmaster handle is plenty wide enough to get two hands on the bell without having to grab onto the horns. I have medium-large hands and mine fit very comfortably. Another, immediate difference with the Ironmaster KB and many other KB handles is the pretty drastic difference in the size of the window/hole. It's probably made larger just in case the user has less weight plates on board, the pin doesn't stick out too far hand hit the hands. It also makes moving the KB harder. Putting the weight out those extra 3" makes the weight feel noticeably heavier than it really is (IMO, about 10 lbs heavier). One tip: go easy with this 'bell. This difference in the handle makes her move much differently. Take a look...I'd stay away from snatches until you get used to how this KB moves!
Moving farther down the KB, to the heart of the Ironmaster design, is the weight plates themselves. If you notice in the photos, the plates actually interlock with each other, sort of like Legos. That threaded-pin/screw thingy goes through the plates and threads into the handle. I'll bet you're all wondering what I wondered at first: won't that come unscrewed when I'm swinging the KB? It's a legitimate concern but it's totally unwarranted. As long as you hand-tighten the pin, it's not coming undone, no matter how hard you drop it! In fact, I can barely get the plates to move when I drop it, let alone get the screw to loosen. One thing that you have to be certain of when you change the weight of this KB is that it's lying on it's side on a completely flat surface. If the plates aren't level, they won't lock together properly. It's possible to over-tighten this screw to the point where it's very hard to get the pin out to drop plates off the 'bell. Therein lies my only suggestion for improving this product: drill a small hole in the side of the screw's knob and provide a long dowel to insert into the knob in case you over-tighten it. In the meantime, hand-tighten the screw!
Durability was an issue for me as well. In the back of my mind, I was hoping that this KB would be rugged enough to throw in a pick-up truck and travel with. My wish was granted! This KB is as close as an adjustable gets to the feel and function of a solid KB. You can toss, drop and swing it as much as you wish. It barely even rattles!
Best of all is the cost savings. Overall, the handle, plates and pins came in at $199.00, shipping included. I started out using a 16 Kg (35 lbs) kettlebell, on sale for $80. I wish I had found this KB sooner. Buying a 44 lbs and a 24 kg KB, would have easily exceeded $199. The final plate set will bring the total price up to $270.
This is far cheaper than buying a complete set of KB's and takes up a lot less space too. If this piece of strength training equipment were an airplane, I think it would be an A-10 Warthog. Sure, it's not the prettiest thing out there but it works beautifully and it's tough as hell. The A-10 is my favorite plane and now the Ironmaster Kettlebell is now my favorite weight training tool.
Another good review on the Ironmaster Kettlebell...