Kettlebells vs dumbbells: as if it is even an important question. The marketing of fitness products is so shrill that we should all be laughing our heads off every time some new ad copy comes out. Instead, many of us (my hand is raised, or was raised in the past) buy and buy and never stop to realize that people have actually been getting stronger for a long time, even before the rise of the Smith machine, or that adductor machine that Gold’s Gyms have a minimum of 100 of.
Nowhere is the marketing revving at more of a fever pitch than with kettlebells. Disclaimer: kettlebells are my favorite exercise tool, which is why they are best for me. That’s it. Other than the simple fact that I enjoy using a kettlebell more than a dumbbell, I see no reason why they are better. Yes, the center of gravity is a little offset, so there is probably some grip strength carryover there, and there is no doubt that bottoms up pressing a heavy bell is something that you can’t really do with a dumbbell.
Also, juggling dumbbells isn’t going to be as easy as using a kb.
But other than that, a kb is just a weight with a handle on it. It satisfied the requirements as a strength training tool in that it is subject to the laws of gravity and provides resistance if you pick it up and move it through the air.
Dumbbells can be snatched, pressed, swung, cleaned, and jerked. They can be used for the bent press and the Turkish getup. This is just common sense. You can get strong with a rock, a barbell, or your own bodyweight. People have been doing it for a long, long time.
There is one instance where kettlebells deserve all of the hype they get: when they are your favorite tool to use. I believe that training longevity is the best goal we can set for ourselves. For my part, longevity means workouts that I can enjoy and look forward to. That means using tools that I enjoy. There is no best, only the best for me. And you. I cannot determine what you should enjoy the most, and you can’t do it for me.
So in the case of kettlebells versus dumbbells, it is very simple: use the one that you enjoy using more. That will give you better results because you will enjoy your workouts more and look forward to them more.