These include the kettle bell swing, the snatch, windmills, the clean and press, and any plyometric movement. Researchers concluded that kettle bells may provide trainers and coaches with an efficient and effective tool to improve cardiorespiratory fitness quickly.
This may provide more comfort when it comes to core moves or jumping movements since you can hug it close to your body. In particular, these may provide the best kettle bells or the best dumbbells for a home gym, helping you save on space.
You also hold the weight in the middle with dumbbells, which offers a bit more balance and support. In contrast, kettle bells can feel a bit less balanced when compared to the simple dumbbell.
This is because the weight on a kettle bell is farther from the handle, which changes the position of its center of gravity. This can make certain movements more challenging (which is great for the seasoned exerciser or weight lifter!
According to the Mayo Clinic, the average adult should include 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity and strength training two times per week for optimal health. Meanwhile, dumbbells offer various ways to isolate and train different muscle groups throughout the body.
If your current goal is weight loss, building muscle is an excellent way to burn fat. Muscle tones and defines the body, as well as burns more calories at rest than fat does.
Dumbbell exercises can provide the basics of what you need to become strong and build muscle. In addition, kettle bells may eventually provide the challenge you need to break through weight-loss plateaus, as well as offer up that cardio component.
Start hinged forward at the hips with a straight back and the kettle bell in between your legs. At the same time, drive your hips forward by squeezing your glutes and standing up tall.
Holding the kettle bell close to your chest, slowly lower into a squat by sticking your butt back as if you were going to sit in a chair. Keeping your back straight, pull the kettle bell toward your chest while pinching your shoulder blades down and in.
Similar to the normal chest press, lie face up on a comfortable surface. Kettle bells are great in providing an additional challenge, helping you reach your goals much faster.
Whether you’re at the gym or buying weights for home fitness, it’s important to know the differences between kettle bells and dumbbells. 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. Lastly, as mentioned above, the weight location of kettle bells makes them slightly more challenging using.
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.
This article is not intended to sway you into using over the other, but to point out some considerations to take into account when employing kettle bells and dumbbells. Photo By Marina / Shutterstock To fully understand the context of when to employ the dumbbell and kettle bell in training, then it’s a good idea to first breakdown some key differences between them.
However, without a deeper knowledge of weight displacement, strength curves, application to training, and biomechanics, then the physical differences don’t really mean much. Similarly, will the evenly displaced weight of the dumbbell heads shift mechanics and application?
Weight sits below the middleweight is evenly displaced on both deconstructed with cast-iron Construction varies greatlyHandle can accommodate one or two handshake accommodates only one handle above physical differences are pretty easy to see and wrap one’s head around, but their understanding is crucial for application of each implement’s use in training when facilitating adaptations — more on that below. Center of mass of these two implements is important to understand because it has the potential to shift the stress of the external load being put on the desired muscle and joint with the exercise of choosing.
The reason center of mass matters for implement selection is based on different exercise’s strength curves. A strength curve entails how an exercise changes in difficulty through different ranges of motion.
Take bands or a machine on a preacher curl for example, they provide a constant tension throughout the full range of motion, which will differ from a dumbbell ’s strength curve slightly due to gravity playing a role on the movement’s difficulty at various points. Thus, strength curves will vary based on the muscle and joints being used, along with the range of motion they’re working through and the implement chosen.
Their center of mass is different, so the way in which they create difficulty for various exercises in certain ranges of motion will vary slightly. An interesting example of the above in research comes from a study published in 2018 that compared Egg activity of the anterior deltoid and pectoralis major when subjects performed either a seated dumbbell overhead press or a seated kettle bell overhead press.
Upon their analysis, researchers suggested that the dumbbell overhead press had slightly higher anterior deltoid Egg than the kettle bell while the pectoralis major was similar in both exercises. Authors speculated that the difference in the anterior deltoid potentially had to do with the alignment of the dumbbell and kettle bell and how this might have affected the primary movers in the overhead press.
This difference could have been the reason that the dumbbells produced more muscle activity than the kettle bell, as its load was more direct and consistent on the primary movers of the overhead press. Research is still sparse on the comparison between the dumbbell and kettle bell and muscle activation for a variety of exercises, but the above does offer some great food for thought.
Jasmine Markovic/Shutterstock When selecting between a dumbbell and kettle bell for muscle activation purposes consider how they load the body — more specifically the primary movers of an exercise — through the range of motion being trained. At the end of the day, quality programming and reps will weigh heaviest in the long run for strength and hypertrophy adaptations.
Which to Use : Both, but if given the opportunity base dumbbell and kettle bell selection on the primary movers and range of motion being trained! Similar to the strength component above, kettle bells and dumbbells both have the potential to help improve a lifter’s power.
Generally speaking, power-based training will include dynamic movements and exercises will require higher velocities. Lysenko Ego/Shutterstock Movements like the kettle bell swing, clean & jerk, and snatch are all exercises that can be programmed for the adaptation of power that the dumbbell falls slightly short on.
For athletes trying to improve power, then generally speaking, the kettle bell will be a friendlier option to do so based on its construction and ease of use. The construction of a kettle bell and its traditional movements are useful for increasing the amount of work you can put in over a desired period of time.
For cardio improvement, both dumbbells and kettle bells are great options and it comes down to the workout style being performed. There are plenty of kettle bell and dumbbell complexes that are designed to improve cardiovascular fitness and the only limitation with this adaptation is one’s creativity with their training and flows.
At the end of the day, the differences between kettle bells and dumbbells go out the window without quality programming t hat accounts for multiple training variables, exercise selection, and an individual’s goals and needs. What matters most is quality programming that considers multiple factors that help direct lifters closer to their goals and needs.
Beginners can train with kettle bells with no problem, however, it’s worth pointing out that form should take precedence of one’s focus when using them for the first few workouts. Both dumbbells and kettle bells work great for developing strength, power, and cardiovascular fitness, and what matter most is the quality of their movements and programming.
The kettle bell ’s handle is wider, so it fits two hands better and the weight is further from the body so it accommodates the swinging motion slightly better than what a dumbbell would do. Stability of Resistance Training Implement alters Egg Activity during the Overhead Press.
Finding your way around your gym’s cardio machines is fairly foolproof. Weights, though, aren’t as straightforward, which is why the question of when you should grab a kettle bell versus dumbbell to check off your strength training is often cause for confusion.
When you hold a weight, the mass is on either side of your hand, while with a kettle bell it’s directly underneath with a space in the middle. “With a kettle bell, there is a space between your hand and the actual load, and this added distance acts as an additional lever arm,” says Kelvin Gary, founder of NYC’s BodySpaceFitness.
This, he explains can make the load feel either lighter or heavier, depending on its position in space. “The added benefit here is that its more stimulus for your body to have to adapt to, thereby increasing the need for coordination and stability and ramping up the effort,” says Gary.
Squats, lunges, rows, and presses can also all be done with both types of weight, but you may have an easier go using the kettle bell because of the grip. If the answer is no, you should take things down a notch; if it’s yes, you’re on the right track (and if it’s yes, but you feel like you could do at least four more, grab something heavier).
Dumbbells are easier to use than kettle bells, which makes them a great choice if you’re just getting started in the weight-training game. Even if you’re an advanced lifter, JackieVick, CSS, a trainer at Gold’s Gym notes that dumbbells are usually the better choice for moves that require “pressing and pulling,” because dumbbells help you feel more stable.
Renegade rows: In a high plank position with dumbbells in each hand, row one arm at a time, pulling your elbow toward your back and keeping your core engaged throughout the move. This move tones your arms and shoulders while also getting your heart rate up.
Dumbbell push-press: Standing with your feet hips-width distance apart a set of dumbbells at your shoulders and your knees slightly bent, drive through your lower body to lift them straight over head. Farmer’s carry : Hold equally weighted dumbbells in either hand, and walk across the floor holding your shoulders back and keeping your core tight.
“Kettle bells offer a slight edge in design effectiveness and energy usage during functional movements,” says Pick, adding that they’re better for moves like swings, cleans and snatches because of the way the load is distributed. However, they can be slightly harder to use than dumbbells, so if you’re new to weight training you may want to build up to kettle bell moves.
Single arm swings: Standing with your feet hips-width distance apart, hold onto the kettle bell handle with one hand. Bending your knees slightly and keeping your back straight, swing the bell in between your legs with control.
Explode up, and use the momentum to lift the kettle bell to your shoulder and flip it over your wrist. These help with hip extensions, and allow you to hit multiple planes in a single move, says Gary.
Goblet squats : Hold a kettle bell by the “horns” (aka the side handles), and turn your feet out. You look like someone who loves free workouts, discounts for cult-fave wellness brands, and exclusive Well+Good content.
Sign up for Well+, our online community of wellness insiders, and unlock your rewards instantly.