In this post we would like to compare kettlebells vs dumbbells to see which one is the best for your individual workout needs.
Most gyms have a selection of both kettlebells and dumbbells and each has its merits. Most people have some experience of using trusty dumbbells, but might also be aware that kettlebells can offer a more dynamic, full body workout.
A comparison of kettlebells vs dumbbells is difficult though, because the choice of which is best will usually come down to personal preference.
The truth is that, unless you have to choose between either kettlebells or dumbbells, for example because of a lack of space in your home gym, the greatest benefit comes from using both of these pieces of equipment.
Kettlebells vs Dumbbells: what are the advantages of each?
Advantages Of Dumbbells
Dumbbells are found in most gyms, including those in hotels and in home gyms. They’re relatively small, easy to store, come in a variety of weights, and they allow the user to target specific muscles and muscle groups.
- Their availability is perhaps the dumbbells’ biggest advantage. They are found in commercial gyms and are also easy to find in more limited gyms, such as those in hotels or home gyms.
- They offer less risk of injury for beginners. Dumbbell exercises are typically static which reduces the risk when compared to kettlebell exercises which require movement of the full body.
- Dumbbell exercises offer unilateral training of specific muscles. This enables the user to train both sides of the body equally. Do 10 reps of the same weight with both arms, and they both receive the same level of training. In comparison, using kettlebells typically requires the use of both sides and the body will naturally compensate by using the muscles on the dominant side more.
- They are a convenient piece of equipment that are easy to hold. The handle is wide enough for hands of any size, and the bar is easy to grip. Kettlebells take practice to master and some people struggle to grip and rotate the handles as required.
- Dumbbells are cheaper to purchase. A set will typically include two bars and a selection of weights that can be added and removed. Although adjustable kettlebells do exist, the dynamic and ballistic movement of some bell exercises means that adjustable models are not usually considered suitable. Good quality dumbbells are made from a single piece of cast iron and buying a set means purchasing half a dozen or more of these items. The cost soon adds up – something you need to consider when comparing dumbbells vs kettlebells.
Advantages Of Kettlebells
Kettlebell exercises and routines have become hugely popular – there’s barely a gym or personal trainer that doesn’t use them in some way. They are used often in CrossFit but have also pervaded into other forms of strength and cardio training too. Users need to take the time to master the training movements required for this type of equipment, but doing so offers the following benefits:
- Kettlebell exercise regimens require full body movements. Even the most basic of exercises, the kettlebell swing, requires the user to move their full body. This makes kettlebell exercises better for cardio workouts than dumbbells. It also makes kettlebells extremely effective for weight loss.
- A lot of the movements used in this type of exercise are fluid, with the movements flowing gently into each other. Fluid movements, like the kettlebell swing, are easier on the body and they put less pressure on the joints and muscles. In fact, injured athletes often use kettlebells for rehabilitation because they enable the working of important muscles without putting too much strain on them.
- Some users find the grip of a kettlebell to be awkward to begin with, but once mastered, the thickness of the handle improves the user’s grip strength more effectively than by using dumbbells.
- Training functional strength means working with movements that people use in everyday life. While dumbbell curls are not necessarily beneficial in everyday movement, one of the benefits of kettlebell swings is that they mimic real life movements and so improve everyday strength. If functional strength training is important to you, then you should consider the use of a range of equipment types including both dumbbells and kettlebells.
Kettlebells vs Dumbbells – which is best?
Of course, there’s no single piece of training equipment in the world which is best for everyone, as everything depends on your own preferences and goals.
You can use either dumbbells or kettlebells – both are fine choices with unique advantages and offering different styles of exercise.
However, if you enjoy variety in your workouts and are interested in more innovative training methods that produce functional strength, kettlebells are in many ways better than dumbbells.
If you’ve never used kettlebells before, we recommend giving them a try. Check out our guide to beginners kettlebells exercises to learn how to use them. And then see our buyers guide to the best kettlebells to find the one which is best for you.
Kettlebells vs Dumbbells vs Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are another training tool which you should consider adding to your home gym. In recent years, they’ve become über-popular for their versatility and are ideal for functional strength workouts.
Check out our ultimate exercise band workout, and follow our YouTube and Instagram accounts for regular workout videos: