Dumbbells vs Kettlebells

Everyone knows what a dumbbell is, but how about it's round cousin, the kettlebell? You may have seen some people at the gym swinging a kettlebell and asked yourself some questions. Is that something you can do with a dumbbell? Are there any benefits to using a kettlebell instead of a dumbbell? When it comes to getting results, is one better than the other?

Well look no further, as this guide below is designed to help you answer that question!

Main Differences Between Dumbbells and Kettlebells

Above is a chart outlining the biggest differences between a dumbbell and kettlebell as they both look and perform very differently. Understanding these differences is the first step in knowing which one to implement into your training routine!

The most important difference between the two is where the weight is distributed. The dumbbell has it's weight evenly spread on both sides, whereas the kettlebell has the weight sitting below the handle. This difference in the center of mass can shift the weight onto different muscles on certain exercises. For example, when doing the basic arm curl, kettlebells will put more strain on your forearms and lower biceps compared to the traditional dumbbell.

When to Use a Dumbbell and When to Use a Kettlebell

We can use this difference in the center of mass to our advantage in figuring out whether you would want to use a dumbbell or a kettlebell. For the more tried and true exercises like the chest press, lateral raises, and bicep curls, the dumbbell will provide more stability throughout the lift. This is due to the gripped handle and evenly distributed weight being placed near your hand, enabling a more steady and straightforward range of motion.

For more dynamic movements like snatches, cleans, and swings, the kettlebell reigns supreme. With the weight distributed several inches below the handle coupled with a smoother and larger grip, kettlebells are designed to be moved around more aggressively and vigorously. This added instability can also recruit muscles that a dumbbell cannot, as you would need to work harder to stabilize the weight. In turn, this also makes the kettlebell slightly harder to use compared to the dumbbell.

The Takeaway

So which is better, the dumbbell or the kettlebell? It depends on what type of movement you're doing. Dumbbells are great for providing stability in simple lifts that require pressing and pulling. For more dynamic and CrossFit-like movements, the kettlebell is the more functional choice with it's smoother handle and lower center of gravity. Both are great options that will help you build strength and muscle, so choose the one that best suites your workout!

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