Kettlebells vs Dumbbells

by Kilo on December 13, 2010

kettlebell vs dumbbellKettlebells 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.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

michael December 13, 2010 at 11:23 am

That was a timely article. I have recently come to the same conclusion myself. I have fallen victim to all the hype and marketing. Now, I love Kettlebells. I really do. But they are no better than Dumb bells, as you said so well. And Barbells are a recent acquision for me. I am becoming a fan of “Strength” and you can get strong using Kettlebells yes, but I think, Barbells are better for pure squatting, deadlifts and benches. Great article.


Kilo December 13, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Glad to hear it Michael, thanks. I should have added that if you want to do kettlebell sport, then you HAVE to use kettlebells.


John Sifferman December 14, 2010 at 8:01 am

I agree. For most people, fun is the greatest measure of a tools usefulness. If we’re talking athletes or servicemen who are training to improve specific movements, then each tool has advantages for certain applications. But when you get down to it, both DB’s and KB’s are just heavy objects used for strength training – and that’ll work just fine for 90% of all training goals. The difference between them is negligible unless being used for sport or work-related purposes. That said, of the two, I do think KB’s are the overall superior training tool, and I enjoy using them more than DB’s.


Kilo December 15, 2010 at 11:48 am

John, our gym just got some Atlas stones. They may very well become my new favorite.


John Sifferman December 17, 2010 at 12:12 pm

SWEET – would love to see some Kilo-stone action here on StrengthRules!


Cancel reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: