Kettlebells and dumbbells are both popular workout tools. However, in discussing which between the two types of tools is better, it’s worth looking at your goals in working out. One is better than the other under certain circumstances. In a nutshell, dumbbells are more like your strength training companions, while kettlebells are your cardio and endurance training companions.
What’s the difference really?
Well, the first thing you would notice is their shape. Dumbbells are like little barbells. So they are basically bars with weight plates in both sides. You hold a dumbbell on the center and use it usually as a free weight tool.
Kettlebells, on the other hand, look like metal globes with handles. These are fixed weights, unlike dumbbells, whose plates can be replaced with heavier ones as you progress through your strength training. If you want heavier weights for your kettlebell workouts, you just have to grab a heavier kettlebell.
Different Centers of Gravity
With dumbbells, you’re holding the weight directly in your hands. The center of gravity of the weight is in your hands. This is good in training certain muscle groups for strength. Kettlebells, because of their shape, put their weight and the center of gravity away from you. Training with kettlebells requires you to use more muscles for stability than training with dumbbells. However, while kettlebell exercise do recruit more muscles, thereby burning more calories, they don’t necessarily add so much strength and mass to them.
As mentioned, dumbbells are used as strength or weight training tools. Depending on your strength levels, you start with 5, 10, or 20-lb dumbbells and perform different exercises (e.g. dumbbell rows, bicep curls, and lunges). As free weights, they allow you to focus more on working out muscle groups.
Some strength training exercises that can be done with dumbbells can also be done with kettlebells, albeit with different effects on your body overall. As mentioned earlier, kettlebells recruit more muscles for stabilization. However, you can only progress so much with these tools until it becomes impossible to advance on the workouts with heavier kettlebells.
Most kettlebell workouts are done at cardio pace for endurance and fat loss. While dumbbells can are also great cardio tools, they are basically strength training tools.
So is one better than the other?
No, neither is better than the other. Dumbbells and kettlebells are just two different tools geared to people with different fitness goals. If you want to build muscle, stick to dumbbells. If you want to build endurance, stick to kettlebells. In other words, go with dumbbells if your goal is to have bigger, more muscular arms or chests. Go with kettlebells if you want to improve your cardiovascular endurance and fitness.