Getting acquainted with the different types of free weights is a pretty simple task, and is the best way to make sure that you are getting the most out of your workouts. They are any exercise load that is not connected to another piece of gym equipment or apparatus, hence the name ‘ free.’ This means you can do whatever you want with them: pick them up, move them, lift them, etc.
The two main types of free weights you are likely to find in a gym are dumbbells and barbells. If you perform a squat using a leg press machine and bend at the hips and knees, that is all you have to do.
If you do the same squat, but with a free weight this time, your muscles will need to work to prevent you from swaying. There is a multitude of benefits to training with a kettle, with perhaps the greatest being that many kettle bell exercises are dynamic and ballistic, meaning that they use fast lifts rather than the more slowed and controlled strength training most gym enthusiasts are used to.
These particular exercises increase your heart rate in a way that is entirely different from other activities like cardio. Additionally, these motions include pretty much every single muscle in your body and are also totally different from most other exercises, which makes them refreshing and a little fun.
They are made from cast iron and are shaped like a ball, attached with a U-shaped handle to make gripping them easy. Kettle bells have recently experienced a resurgence in popularity, with thousands of books, videos, and classes being made.
This is because training with kettle bells provides a dynamic motion that targets nearly every aspect of fitness, including strength, endurance, balance, cardio, and agility. They both offer unique exercising experiences and challenge your body in different ways.
But traditional weights are still superior when it comes to maximizing your strength, argues a new study from California State University, Fullerton. The Cal State team asked 30 men to train with either kettle bells or traditional weights twice a week.
After 6 weeks, the traditional-weight group had boosted their squat max 14 percent—an average of 18 pounds—compared to just 4 percent (5 pounds) among the kettle bell lifters. The kettle bell group completed the same number of sets of various swing movements and goblet squats—exercises not designed solely to build strength.
“We tried to use the kettle bells the way most practitioners would use them, emphasizing technique and using explosive movements,” explains study author Jared Co burn, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology at Cal State, Fullerton. Co burn says it’s not surprising kettle bell strength gains were smaller than those resulting from traditional resistance exercises.
“There is no better tool for adding load than the barbell,” says Dan John, a national masters champion in Olympic lifting and a strength coach in Draper, Utah. For those strength-building exercises that can require substantial weight—such as the bench press, dead lifts, squats, or snatches—John says only the barbell can meet the resistance needs of some lifters.
You can use kettle bells or dumbbells interchangeably for some exercises, such as bicep curls or lateral raises, John adds. Think of jumping to shoot or block a shot in basketball late in a pickup game, or swinging a golf club after 16 holes.
This exercise activates your hamstrings, back, and posterior chain of muscles and you’ll improve your speed, flexibility, and core strength, says David Jack, a Men's Health advisor and director of Teamwork Fitness in Massachusetts. It makes little sense to limit the free -weight tools you use to just kettle bells, when barbells allow for more weight, which leads to the greatest gains in muscle strength.
-Researchers from California State University, Fullerton, had subjects follow a six-week strength-training program using either just kettle bells or barbells. TYPICAL FREE -WEIGHT TRAINING USING BARBELLS AND DUMBBELLS MAY BE BETTER FOR INCREASING MUSCLE STRENGTH.
As we suspected, using typical free weights such as barbells can increase muscle strength gains far better than limiting training to just kettle bells. To prevent strength imbalances between the left and right side of the body, dumbbells are the tools of choice.
For combining cardio with free weights, the kettle bell swing is a great choice. Limiting yourself to just one tool, such as the kettle bell, is like a carpenter performing all his work with just a hammer.
Sure, it’s a great tool for hammering nails, but it makes a poor choice to cut wood. Whether you’re at the gym or buying weights for home fitness, it’s important to know the differences between kettle bells and dumbbells.
Because of their instability, free weights demand a more complete body workout than weight machines. The weight is displaced evenly on either side of the handle and sits at the same level as your hand.
In kettle bells, the weight sits behind your wrist and creates a slight torque in your joints. The slight bend from kettle bells can exacerbate ongoing tendonitis or carpal tunnel in ways that wouldn’t happen with dumbbells.
On the other hand, if you’re interested in building wrist and grip strength, a kettle bell is a great way to do so. While the difference is slight, some fitness fanatics may find this relevant for their specific goals.
Another big difference between kettle bells and dumbbells is that the location of the weight affects the movement and power you can generate with them. There are a lot of dynamic exercises you can do with kettle bells that involve your ability to create and stop momentum.
Kettle bell swings are a particularly popular exercise because the moving center of gravity activates your core as well as the intended shoulder and arm muscles. It’s also easier to progressively increase the weight with dumbbells, as fewer muscles are involved.
The lighter the weight, the less you’ll notice these slight differences in feel between kettle bells and dumbbells. However, in high-intensity interval training (HIIT), you may find kettle bells are slightly easier to pick up and use.
The wider handle makes it easy to grab a kettle bell quickly and with both hands if the exercise requires it. Because the added weight isn’t right at your hand, kettle bells throw off your center of gravity.
Kettle bells are a great way to bring a new element into your free weight exercises. Switching out dumbbells for kettle bells in your normal routine will engage your core and snap your muscles out of autopilot.
Some new weightlifters may also find it easier to feel the isolated muscles and understand the exercises better with dumbbells.