Are kettlebells better than dumbbells? In many ways, dumbbells and kettlebells are about equal, but, the differences in training with either for the best fitness results is important.
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Dumbbells Versus Kettlebells
By Mike Westerdal
Just abut everyone already knows that one unique benefit of exercise with dumbbells is that they are extremely versatile, suitable for people of any age or level, inexpensive, and great for training just about any body part. But, over the past few years, kettlebells, until recently relatively unknown to the non-professional exerciser, have been getting a lot of attention. However, although we're only recently hearing a lot of buzz about them, they're not really "new" to the experienced exerciser.
Actually, kettlebells have been around for more than a hundred years in their relatively modern form.
But, what exactly is a kettlebell and where do they come from?
Are kettlebells better than dumbbells for exercise?
Well that's what I hope to answer in this article.
Kettlebells are a traditional Russian cast iron weight. They basically
look like a cast iron cannonball with a handle. Kettlebell exercises
are a combination of strength and cardio exercise that are designed to
build endurance and stamina. Proponents say that the kettlebell is
simply the greatest tool for all-around athletic development.
Dumbbells are well, dumbbells. They've been around for thousands of
years in one form or another. The Greeks and the Romans trained with
their own versions of dumbbells.
Versatility and Overall Fitness Vs. Specific Focus on Functional Strength
Versatility is a major key advantage of dumbbells. They can be used to train
nearly any part of the body and, because they come in such a wide range
of weights, can be used by just about anyone...regardless of skill
level. They're also fairly inexpensive.
On the other hand, kettlebell exercises are primarily designed to
develop functional strength. Their main focus is to work our so-called
'non-mirror' muscles, the ones that we don't necessarily "see" in the
mirror but are important nonetheless.
Now, that's not to say that kettlebells can't be used effectively to train specific areas of the body! They most certainly can. It's just that the majority
of kettlebell routines designed by the pros are more focused on
movements that include cardio, strength-building and flexibility.
What's Your Fitness Focus?
If you're into mixed martial arts
or, are just looking to get into some serious cross-training, then kettlebells appear to have the advantage over dumbbells.
When doing cross-training exercises with dumbbells, which mostly focus on specific
muscles, you're basically restricted to using lighter weights or you run
the risk of injuring yourself. With kettlebells though, the exercises
require multiple muscle groups to work together, meaning that you can
use higher weights, with less risk of injury (assuming proper form).
If your goal is mainly to "tone up" your body rather than to focus on developing overall strength and flexibility, then dumbbells are
probably right for you. Dumbbells would also most likely be the best
choice if you are recovering from an injury, are just starting out or
are elderly. There are an unlimited number of dumbbell exercise
techniques for toning the body or aiding in injury recovery that don't
require more than five or ten pounds.
If you feel you fit into one of these categories, then you'll probably have an easier time working with dumbbells.
For most of the previous history of kettlebells, however, they have been primarily used by people looking
for a pretty heavy duty workout. It's only been within the last few years
that professional trainers have began to realize their value as an all
around piece of exercise equipment. For this reason, you're going to find fewer routines to
On certain levels both dumbbells and kettlebells are about equal. They
both can be used in the home-or just about anywhere else...and don't
require any special equipment. They're both very versatile, are
suitable for all around, full-body training and can be challenging,
rewarding and fun. Each can be used to target specific areas of the
body and neither of them requires much of a learning curve-just about
anyone can learn to use them without too much difficulty. Lastly,
neither of them requires a great deal of skill or knowledge to be able
to use them and get results.
So what's the verdict? Which are better, dumbbells or kettlebells? My
conclusion is that neither one is intrinsically "better" than the
Both have their distinct advantages and disadvantages and can help you
to achieve your fitness goals, whatever they might be. My personal
choice is a combination of both.
I would choose kettlebells for focusing on developing core strength and
flexibility and dumbbells to isolate particular muscles and body parts.
Your choice though, is going to depend on your fitness goals, your
skill level and ultimately, your personal level of commitment.
Mike Westerdal is the creator of illustrated guide called, "Dumbbell
Routines & Exercises".
Visit his site to get a free eMail course entitled, "Getting Started With Dumbbells".
If you need more
information about cross
training you will find a very
informative website at Dumbbell Weight Training.
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