Kettlebell Vs Barbell

Earl Hamilton
• Saturday, 26 December, 2020
• 9 min read

The majority of my athletes are involved in contact sports, be that the martial arts, rugby, or Ireland's native GAA games. Needless to say, these guys need strength and power by the bucket load, but not at the expense of speed and agility.

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Personally, I can’t even watch someone Military Press a barbell without having to visit the physio afterward, and several of my crew have had a similar predicament. This changes the leverage; many suggest this offers greater stimulation to the rotator cuff muscles.

When racked, the kettle bells should be low on the body; ideally, the elbows are resting on the top of the hip bones. To get here, we must shift the torso back a wee bit and sink the chest a little.

This position requires flexibility in the thoracic spine and hip flexors, two very common tight areas (so we’re off to a good start already). As we take a sharp breath in to expand the chest, we throw the head back to extend the thoracic spine and open the rib cage.

As the back contracts to lift the chest, the arms are taken along for the ride and the kettle bells are set on their path skywards. If the body is flexible, the initial part of the press is almost horizontal relative the thoracic spine.

So far we’ve used the breath and the back to set the kettle bells in motion, and now our upper chest can kick in. This motion slingshots the spine and the head forwards under the kettle bells so our shoulders and triceps can do the simple job of locking them out with a strong exhalation to stabilize the body and receive the weight.

kettlebell vs barbell
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It took me a long time to work all that out, as well as studying the technique of top kettle bell lifters and also the method that strongmen employ in the log lift, which is almost identical. Altogether, this makes the kettle bell overhead press a massive lift for the entire upper body but is very forgiving for the shoulder joint.

The Squat is considered the king of the weight room exercises, and for a good reason. The Split Squat is my go-to exercise for leg strength; it is brutally hard yet relatively low risk.

The weight is held low below the body’s center of gravity, so the spine isn’t overloaded, yet the legs are working to near maximum capacity. Alongside this, we also get to see and address any imbalances between the left and right legs, something which is very common as most guys favor one side in their athletic performance.

This upright position and front load takes a lot of strain away from the lower back and places it firmly onto the abs. Many who attempt heavy Front Squats with kettle bells are surprised to find that their upper back and abs are highlighted as their weak points.

As you can imagine, if you train to both give and receive big hits, the upper back and core have to be made of spring steel. The ballistic kettle bell lifts are easier to learn than their Olympic counterparts and also have one distinct advantage when we are talking about athletic strength and power development.

(Source: www.mh.co.za)

This is also mildly safer for the athlete as they must first master a certain weight before being allowed to move up. Then we slowly add in more reps until we are hitting the upper end of the bracket for all sets.

For a person military pressing the 24 kg kettle bell for 3 × 3, we encourage them to work towards 5 × 3, then 5 × 4 and eventually 5 × 5 before letting them go for the 28kgs. If your goal is huge muscles -- hypertrophy for bodybuilding, for example, or to be the strongest offensive lineman in the stadium -- you need maximum resistance, and that means working out with barbells.

If you need to explode down the track, football field, soccer pitch or baseball diamond, you’ll want to train with Olympic-style lifts: the clean and jerk, and the snatch. The explosive movements to bring the weight from the floor to above the head pay off in speed -- enabling you to make powerful starts and changes of direction and to accelerate.

Similarly, you can gain functional benefits in home workouts with kettle bells, especially with any lifts that entail balancing on one leg. Looked at another way, “barbells will enable you to lift the heaviest loads,” says trainer and champion kettle bell lifter Lorna Seaman.

If your goal isn’t huge, showy muscles, or to win Olympic gold in the 100 meters or a Super Bowl trophy, but rather a strong, sleek body resembling that of a gymnast, kettle bells can be a sterling choice. On very rare occasions, I’ll put my hand on a basketball for some push ups or something, but I do kettle bell and body weight (calisthenic) training almost exclusively.

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(Source: www.health24.com)

I have some weights in storage for some day when we have a bigger place and I can set them up permanently. But, as I’ve preached before, training decisions must be influenced by personal goals.

And most people that I talk to are interested in getting in “better shape,” or losing some weight, or training for a stronger heart, or who would like to be mobile enough to play with their grandkids (now, for some, or when grandkids actually enter the picture, for others). And kettle bells render barbells and dumbbells completely unnecessary for the attaining of these goals.

So, if your goal is to become a bodybuilder or an underwear model, join a gym or spend $1000 on a decent set of free weights. As the title would suggest, I’m going to argue that kettle bells are better than barbells, and I’ll start by talking about Utility.

In an effort to be succinct and clear, I have spoken in general terms, and I won’t take time for all the qualifiers and disclaimers to assuage the barbell purists out there. However, the Kettle bell Snatch and the Swing are ballistic exercises patterned after their barbell cousins (barbell snatch and dead lift, respectively) and are intended to be done for multiple reps without rest.

So high rep training of Olympic variations is effective and safer with a kettle bell than with barbells. Though dead lifts may be the greatest single exercise in the world, doing them quickly is a bad idea.

barbell kettlebell vs swings deadlifts
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The round contour of the KB lends itself to a range of motion more consistent with the natural path of the arm. If you hold your fists close to your chest as though you're guarding your body from a punch, that looks like the “rack” position in KB training.

Then, if you were to “punch” straight up, the path of your arm will look very similar to the proper motion of a kettle bell press. For slow lifts and grinds, barbells are great for building strength.

If not, you’re free to disagree or set me straight in the comments section below. As a tyro at barbell exercise, I'm nowhere near being ready to compare it with SAS (for instance).

Barbell : limit strength, maximum tension, the skill of bracing, that weird CNS fatigue feeling after heavy lifting, a feeling of sturdiness, finding the body's angles of force production Kettle bell : agility, movement, power, quickness, precision, flow, conditioning, endless variety Even though I didn’t want to, I’ve jumped from SAS over to StrongLifts for a while just to see if I like barbell work.

Something I’m realizing is that for pure strength and muscle you really can’t beat the barbell. A big plus for kettle bells I’ve found though is you can throw together a 20-minute tough complex to cover strength, cardio, and mobility.

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(Source: www.rdellatraining.com)

Trying to cover that with barbells + external cardio and there’s no way you’d keep it under that 20 minute mark. Barbells are really cool to move huge weights with and skyrocket absolute strength and build muscle.

When my goals changed so did my training and I traded in barbells for calisthenics. Lots of fun with calisthenics and pull ups really made my life easier and back bridges fixed my back pain.

I want super strength outside the gym too and I feel programs like SAS just do better at that than lifting heavy barbells. The feeling of pulling a heavy weight from a dead start is unique and special.

I don't get a similar feeling of accomplishment through squats, bench pressing or whatever, no matter how heavy you load them up. Getting stronger in the basic barbell lifts certainly increased my ability outside the gym a lot, but I have at least to some degree have to say that I share Shawn's experience that a good amount of the strength you gain is “gym strength”.

I already said this in the barbell strength carryover”-thread, but working with KB's in some weird way unlocked my strength for the real world outside the gym and I experienced big time WTH effects. There is still the obvious benefit for barbells that they are the best and most time efficient tool for absolute strength. I could write a paper on the differences, benefits and my theories for barbells and KB's, but I won't comment further on the pros and cons for both implements, because it's all very specific from person to person.

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It may have gone completely different if I had started with KB's and worked with barbells afterwards or would have gone with calisthenics for 1 or 2 years. Take a person who starts with KB's, goes on to achieve Sinister, complete the Top, then Rock and then spends years training with calisthenics until he/she achieves very advanced body weight skills.

Kettlbell = little fatigue, little recovery, fixed weight (then giant change in load), and relatively frequent sessions Should be paired with some mobility work to avoid the “gym strength syndrome”.

Contrary to popular gym belief, it can be programmed in a way that do not beat you up! As good as a barbell for upper body strength for most people, as the point of diminishing return is low enough to be reached with kettle bells.

They lack cardio and mobility though, which need to be trained somehow, even if it's going on long walks or jogs or hikes. Back squat makes me harder to push when I have to shield the ball, and bench press makes me comfortable using elbows to hit my opponents (aka dirty play).

Dead lift and overhead press are harder to explain.I only do swing, snatch, globe squat and get up with kettle bell. My changing direction is improved and I recover faster between burst.

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When it comes to maximizing your workout results there's plenty of routes to go down: timing your rest, doing supersets or having a preworkout. Cut to, understanding what is the best strength training equipment to use in your weights sessions.

Until you're used to a new move, watch your form in the mirror to avoid spinal injury. However, PT Christopher Quinn from Physical Culture says: 'Even the heaviest kettle bells aren't big enough for dead lifts.

Barbells offer a broader range of exercises, plus the ability to load much heavier.' There's no denying the kettle bell will strip fat, plus, it offers alternative movement patterns to quash boredom.

But, with unlimited weight variations and a focus on multi-joint compound exercises, the barbell guarantees growth and progression. On the other hand, the barbell dead lift is touted by trainers as one of the best exercises to help you strengthen multiple joints at once.

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1 www.mensjournal.com - https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/how-to-choose-the-right-kettlebell-weight-w447908/
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4 www.boxrox.com - https://www.boxrox.com/strength-building-kettlebell-workouts-for-crossfit-athletes-rx-scaled-and-beginner-2/
5 board.crossfit.com - https://board.crossfit.com/showthread.php
6 revival-strength.com - https://revival-strength.com/crossfit-kettlebell-workouts/