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Kettlebells vs Dumbbells

Kettlebells and dumbbells are great tools to use to build muscle and strength. Depending on your goal, here are some points you may want to consider before deciding which you prefer for your resistance and weight training:

Overhead Press

Both dumbbells and kettlebells can be used for presses. Using dumbbells, the action of pressing tends to be a straight forward motion, lifting the arms above the head with the wrists facing each other (neutral grip) or facing away from your body (pronated grip). The same exercise can be done using a kettlebell. The arm movement using kettlebells will be different in that you need to twist your arm slightly as you raise it above your head. It’s worth noting that with kettlebells, the weight will usually be behind your hand and lower than with a dumbbell where the weight is balanced in the palm of your hand. With kettlebells you have a longer lever arm of resistance which means it requires more effort to press the same weight. This can have functional benefits if this is one of your training goals.

Lateral Raise

Lateral raises are a great way to train your upper back and shoulders. Dumbbells are arguably easier to use for this form of training as kettlebells may feel more cumbersome and awkward to use.

One Arm Rows

Either a single dumbbell or kettlebell can be used effectively for this exercise. It could appear that kettlebells have the edge on this one since its handle and shape give it that extra distance from the floor making it easier to rest the weight down between reps without having to lean over.

Tricep Extension

These are easy to do with a dumbbell by lifting the dumbbell over your head and allowing it to come down behind your head then raising it up. This can also be done with a kettlebell. Hold the kettlebell upside down by the horns of the handle in front of you, then lift it over your head and down towards your back. It is now facing the right way up. Extend your arms up above your head then lower the kettlebell back down behind your back. Both tools are effective and comfortable to use for this exercise.

Bicep curls

There are a variety of ways in which dumbbells can be used for bicep curls and dumbbells are usually the tool of choice for these. However, it is also possible to do effective bicep curls using a kettlebell, by holding it by the horns of the handle, lowering it down then lifting it to your chest and repeat.

Leg exercises

Both dumbbells and kettlebells are effective tools to use when performing leg exercises such as squats and lunges, however, kettlebells may have the edge here as they are easier to hold. Dumbbells are more effective when deadlifting as you need to lower them further before they reach the floor which allows for a more intense move. Due to their shape, kettlebells will reach the floor more quickly meaning you lose some of that distance making the deadlift that bit easier and therefore slightly less effective.