Are Kettlebells Better Than Dumbbells?

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Kettlebells or dumbbells? This seems to be the million-dollar question nowadays. The truth is that each piece of equipment presents a particular set of advantages depending on the given situation. More precisely, your unique fitness goals will determine whether or not the kettlebell or the dumbbell is best for you.

Do you wish to pack on a couple of pounds of muscle and bulk up, or do you want to sculpt and lean out? Do you have access to a gym, or are you too busy and can only workout at home? These are the questions that need to be answered before deciding which is better—kettlebells or dumbbells?

Differences Between Kettlebells and Dumbbells

There are some noticeable physical differences between kettlebells and dumbbells, but understanding how these affect your workout is what’s most important.


  • Made of cast iron
  • The weight sits below the handle
  • The handle allows for a one or two hand grip


  • Made of various materials
  • The weight is evenly distributed on two sides
  • The handle only allows for a one-handed grip

The physical similarities between the kettlebell and the dumbbell are that they are both small enough that they can be stored away easily in your home. They also both come in varying sizes for beginners to intermediate users.

Advantages of Using Kettlebells

If you aim to achieve athletic competency, then kettlebells are the perfect choice for you. It is the unique design of the kettlebell, which allows for muscle activation throughout the body. The powerful and dynamic movements performed during a kettlebell training session are the same movements that an elite athlete does countless times while preparing for an event. Using ballistic movements like cleans and snatches allows your body to acclimate to explosive movements, increasing your flexibility.

Since the kettlebell recruits so many muscles, the body is forced to burn more calories in order to fuel your training sessions. Furthermore, cardio is a breeze when incorporating kettlebells and changing your dieting habits.

Additionally, recruiting all of those muscles like your glutes, hamstrings, core, and other smaller stabilizing muscles, transforms your workout into a strength training session and a cardio program at the same time.

Advantages of Using Dumbbells

If your fitness goals have to do with putting on a few pounds of muscle and adding some power to your bench and overhead press, then look no further than the dumbbell. Dumbbells are chief in the discussion of building muscle and adding some girth to your biceps. The dumbbell design makes it amenable to joint-isolation exercises such as bicep curls, shoulder raises, and chest flyes. As you can imagine, these are the integral exercises needed to increase your strength and the thickness of your muscles. Along those same lines, if you aspire to be a bodybuilder, then dumbbells should become a staple in your training regimen.

Dumbbells are proficient at targeting your shoulders and chest and, in doing so, will add some appreciable size to those areas as well. On top of that, implementing chest flyes will overlap with your performance in the bench press and overhead press, improving your performance in both lifts.

Dumbbells are also a pretty good staple in the cardio department. You can easily select dumbbells suitable for your fitness level to add a bit of resistance to your cardio workouts.

Which Body Parts do Kettlebells and Dumbbells Target?

Both pieces of equipment effectively train the entire body in some way, shape, or form. However, to maximize your results, you should identify which areas of the body you wish to see affected the most.


  • Great at targeting your core and your stabilizing muscles
  • Proficient at targeting the glutes and the hamstrings due to the explosive movements
  • Increases your stamina significantly due to the stress that the kettlebell places on your body
  • Works the posterior chain as a whole


  • Proficient at working the upper body using joint isolation exercises
  • Targets biceps
  • Targets shoulders
  • The chest can benefit significantly from the dumbbell when you implement chest flies into your training

Benefits of Using Both Kettlebells and Dumbbells

It is quite possible to include both pieces of equipment in your training regimen. You will reap the benefits of both cardio and strength training. Moreover, if you are looking for a more balanced approach because your goal is to be both strong and fit, then we highly recommend putting both kettlebells and dumbbells into your workout routine. You don’t have to take an either-or approach. In doing this, you will have more balanced training sessions.

So what does that look like? You can transform yourself into an athlete capable of lifting heavy weights and have excellent endurance training capacity. Most times, when training exclusively as a powerlifter, you might lack the ability to do endurance training. On the other hand, as a CrossFit athlete, you might lack the ability to lift heavy weights. However, if you use both kettlebells and dumbbells, you will train your body to perform competently in both.

If you have a home gym and are tight on space you can turn your dumbbells into kettlebells using a piece of gadget like the Kettle Gryp (available on – see my Kettle Gryp review here.

Final Thoughts Kettlebells vs Dumbbells

Remember that your fitness goals will dictate which route you take on your road to better you. So if you are looking to lean out and get toned, then kettlebells are the best for you. Conversely, if strength is a priority for you, grab yourself some dumbbells and get on your way to add some mass to your frame.

Ultimately, one isn’t better than the other. You can choose kettlebells because you want to train your posterior or lack access to a gym. Or you can choose dumbbells because you are training for an event that utilizes strength. Whatever you choose, make sure you select what works best for your fitness goals.

As previously mentioned, they both have unique advantages that make them a staple in the realm of health and fitness. Either way, you’re sure to do well as long as you stick to a regimen that allows you to work out at least three times a week, with the necessary rest and recovery in between.