Kettlebells Vs. Dumbbells – Which One Is Better?
As the kettlebells have started to break through in the recent years, they are becoming a staple to almost every decent gym.
This leads to a situation where, mostly beginners, are quite puzzled with these weird rounded iron balls with a handle.
Although kettlebells have become a lot more popular, not every gym still has them. And then people who are interested in swinging these big black balls around are “forced” to working kettlebell movements with regular dumbbells.
I’ve personally been in this situation and I honestly thought that there is no significant difference between kettlebells and dumbbells when performing the basic kettlebell movements since everything felt good when I did swings with a regular dumbbell.
And oh boy how wrong I was!
Purely by chance I got to workout with a kettlebell and it felt SO MUCH better obviously.
But this article is discussing about which one is better and in reality it depends what you’re after! Both of them are great for their own respected areas.
So let’s look a bit into positives and negatives first and draw a conclusion after that.
Positives Of Kettlebells
- Kettlebells are great for whole body training & general fitness since you can easily perform the swings, squats, get-ups, cleans, etc. that will train your whole body as a single unit.
- You can do basically all dumbbell movements with kettlebells, although some movements will feel a bit awkward at first since you have to grip the kettlebells a bit different way compared to regular dumbbells.
- Kettlebells have usually a thicker handle and so they train more of your grip than regular sized dumbbells.
- Kettlebells will usually last longer than dumbbells since they are quite hard to break since they’re basically one solid piece of iron.
Positives Of Dumbbells
- Better for strict bodybuilding since the weights are evenly distributed and meant to be moved in a straight up-and-down angle.
- Easier to hold on to because (usually) thinner handles and knurling.
- Better for strength training.
- A bit easier to perform basic rows and pressess since the weights are exactly evenly distributed on both sides.
- Available virtually within any gym.
- Smaller jumps in incriments between the weights, usually dumbbells go up or down in weight in 1.25 to 2.5 kgs (ex. from 25kg -> 26.25kg or 27.5kg)
Kettlebell Or Dumbbell, Proper Form Is A MUST!
Whether you’re training with bells or dumbbells, you must study how to execute the exercises with proper form.
This is one of the most important facts that you’ll have to embrace if you want to build muscle and get stronger. There is nothing more detrimental to muscle growth than injuries!
And injuries 99% of the time happen as a result of form breakdown.
Almost all seasonal lifters have been there, you’re pushing heavy weight and you think you can get one more rep with good form but the lift becomes a grinder and your form breaks down and you pull a muscle or something else.
These setbacks are something that you really should try to avoid at all cost!
Basic kettlebell exercises and proper technique:
- With dumbbells and kettlebells your spine should always stay neutral and lower back rounding is something you NEVER want to happen!
- Remember to keep your head neutral. Don’t point your chin to the ceiling. Try to look straight ahead.
- Also keeping your upper back tight when doing any type of squat, swing, deadlift, row, should be emphasized.
- While performing any pressing movements with either equipment you’ll want to keep your shoulder blades retracted on your back and core tight.
- As a general safe guideline for exercises that use small muscle groups, such as lateral raises, use light weight that you can control to avoid putting too much stress on your shoulder joints.
These general guidelines will ensure that you’ll be safe and not end up hurting yourself.
Remember to slowly work your way through and do not jump into heavy weights too fast! Slow and steady wins the race here.
Kettlebells For Whole Body Training
In my opinion kettlebells are better for training for whole body athletic performance.
All the kettlebell movements such as swings, cleans, squats, overhead pressess and other dynamic movements train your whole body as a unit a bit better than regular dumbbells.
The reason is that you’re incorporating way more swinging rather than just straight vertical up-and-down movements.
You’re basically moving in a more natural way compared to just sticking with plain up and down movement.
Also the kettlebell exercises train more explosiveness, power and stabilizers compared to dumbbells.
Dumbbells For Bodybuilding & Strength
Dumbbells are better for strict bodybuilding and strength work. As the dumbbells are designed to be very evenly balanced, they are efficient at building muscle.
Even heavy weights are easy to handle and get into position because of the shape and weight distribution of the dumbbells.
In my opinion you can get the best mind-muscle connection with dumbbells since you can really focus on working the muscle you’re wanting to grow.
Doing kettlebell movements with dumbbells will feel really awkward and difficult. If you don’t believe me now, just go try kettlebells and dumbbells and you’ll instantly feel the difference.
Conclusion On Kettlebells Vs. Dumbbells
When it all comes down to it, kettlebells are better for athletic performance, explosiveness, power, whole body training and general fitness.
Also with kettlebells you can do basically any dumbbell exercise, eventhough some movements such as bench press will feel a bit awkward at first, since the range of motion is a bit different.
But that being said, if you’re interested in just building muscle, dumbbells are the better choice in my opinion.
So in the end the real question is: What are you trying to accomplish?
- If you’re interested more in athletic performance, explosiveness, power, whole body training and general fitness go with kettlebells.
- If you’re just interested building muscle and getting strong go with dumbbells.
Just remember to use proper form whichever equipment you choose to use!
I hope this article helped you to understand the basic differences between kettlebells and dumbbells. Which one do you prefer and why? I’d like to hear your take on this subject. Drop me a line down below and I’ll get back at you.
Remember to train hard and trains SMART!