If you are a person who frequently visits the gym, you probably have seen people use the kettlebells and the dumbbells. You could question, who would be the winner in a kettlebell vs dumbbell debate, but that would require some basic facts about them.
Their purpose seems to be the same, i.e., both of them are small weights which are used to do arm and shoulder exercises. But there does seem a difference in their use. Each of them is made for different purposes and exercises. This is a guide about this two gym equipment, and to show whether the kettlebell or dumbbell is better than the other.
Kettlebell vs Dumbbell
The physical difference between a kettlebell and a dumbbell is quite obvious and thus does not require an explanation. The thing that requires an explanation is what is the reason and the consequence of their physical differences.
Firstly, the dumbbell is a small bar or rod which has small and equal weights attached to it on both its sides. This causes the dumbbell to put downward pressure on the person lifting it, on the two opposite sides of the fist. Contrary to this, the kettlebell applies the pressure only on one side of the fist lifting it. This is because the weight of the kettlebell is one round mass and not divided into two, unlike the dumbbell. This difference in the distribution of mass and weight in the two leads to them being meant for different purposes in different workouts.
The second difference between the two is the distance between the weights and the arm(s) lifting them. In case of the dumbbell, there is zero distance between the weight and the arm you are lifting it with. The space on the centre bar or rod is small enough just to accommodate a fist, and the two weights are right next to it.
On the other hand, there is some distance between the fist(s) working with the kettlebell and the actual weight of it. This difference in the distance between the arms and the weights causes differences in the strength required to work with them. Different workouts require you to work with different weights, i.e., kettlebell or dumbbell, depending on whether the workout requires you to put the extra strain on your arms or not.
Thirdly, dumbbells feel the same all throughout any movement of the arms. They evenly strain your arm and chest muscles and that too in the same way and direction, whether you are simply lifting them or swinging them around.
However, the kettlebell feels different and pulls and strains your muscles in different ways when they are in different stages of your arm movement. For example, they feel different when you are lifting them than they would when you are swinging them. This is because swinging the kettlebell, it pulls in different directions because of the centrifugal force or the pull being exerted on or by a single point; whereas, the dumbbell keeps pulling in two sides because of the centrifugal force being exerted in two opposite sides.
Kettlebell or Dumbbell? What should you use?
If you are a beginner and have only recently joined the gym and are new to weightlifting for muscle building, gym professionals and trainers recommend using the dumbbell. According to them, a dumbbell is easier to work with because they allow the user more stability, as compared to the kettlebell. If you are new, using the kettlebell can be a little more difficult to adjust and handle. This is also a reason why most gyms more commonly have dumbbells than they would have kettlebells. So for newbies, the dumbbell is better in the kettlebell vs dumbbell debate.
Moreover, even if you are an experienced gym user, dumbbells are always recommended if your exercise requires you to be more stable and does not require you to move around. An example of this is doing the renegade rows. This exercise requires you to high plank and lift one arm up and down at a time from the elbows with weights in your hands, here the dumbbell. If you were to use a kettlebell here, the workout would be much more strenuous on your arm muscles and that too unnecessarily.
Similarly, while doing the dumbbell snatches, trainers strongly suggest using dumbbells as your body requires a lot of stability while doing this. If you were to lift the kettlebell above your head while doing this exercise, it is very likely that the kettlebell could swing backwards with the force you lift it over, which is quite dangerous.
On the other hand, kettlebells are recommended when your exercise includes agility and explosive physical movements. This is because, in such exercises, you want multiple muscles of your body to work, and the kettlebell does just that. A kettlebell requires more manoeuvring when lifting and swinging it around. For example, a kettlebell works very well for the single arm swing or the front rack lunge.
If you wish to strengthen your grip, then a kettlebell wins the kettlebell vs dumbbell debate here. This is due to the structure of the kettlebell. Its handle or horn is often thicker and thus requires strength to wrap your hands around it to lift it. Moreover, since all the weight of the kettlebell is directed straight to one point, it again requires more strength to move it around. Kettlebells, in general, add on a little extra challenge to your workout routine, as compared to the traditional dumbbells. Kettlebells are also fun and quite different to add to your everyday routines.
However, one category where the dumbbell overpowers the kettlebell the comparison kettlebell vs dumbbell in that dumbbells come in all sizes and weights. Whereas, this is not the case with kettlebells. Their sizes and weight variety are much fewer than the dumbbell, making it the better option by a margin.
However, we would still recommend that when you are choosing between a kettlebell or dumbbell, it is always better to ask a professional first. This is because weight training and building muscles require intensive exercises with a lot of jerk movements, which if done incorrectly can do you much harm. Also, they can recommend with more precision about what would serve your goal better.
Though if you are a beginner and do not have access to a gym trainer, going with the dumbbell would be the better option for you.