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Dumbbells Vs Kettlebells

Dumbbells Vs Kettlebells

If we have learned anything over the past year plus from the 2020 global pandemic, it is that we need to buy fitness equipment. But what if we cannot decide between the age old question of Dumbbells Vs Kettlebells? This is a question that will lead to different answers depending on who one asks. Some swear by Dumbbells, others use only the Kettlebell. Figuring out which of these workout equipment tools is right for your training depends on factors like your goals and skill set level, but if you are reading this article, then you are already off to a good start and we here at ISF are hoping we can help you decide whether to buy dumbbells or to buy kettlebells. First we need to understand what dumbbells and kettlebells are, what sets them apart, and which ones work for what exercises.

What is a Kettlebell?

A Kettlebell is a round ball usually made of iron, with a handle at the top which is wide enough to grip with one or two hands. Safe and well built kettlebells, like ISF Kettlebells, are designed as one piece objects, meaning they are casted of molten iron poured into our moulds and cure as a one piece object. This is important as ISF Kettlebells are sturdy, well built workout equipment that will last a lifetime.



Above is an example of the kettlebell being made. Iron is melted down into its molten state, then poured into the mould to form the kettlebell after it cures. Ironically, the iron being used in this photograph to make this batch of Kettlebells is coming from old cast iron weight plates and dumbbells. Once the newly poured kettlebell finally dries, it is removed from the mould and looks as follows.

ISF 16kg•35lb kettlebell right out of the mould, before cleaning up and powder coating.


Because of the nature of the kettlebell shape, with the center of mass below the handle, the kettlebell workout will challenge the bodys stabilizing muscles in a way which the dumbbell cannot duplicate. This is because whereas the dumbbell center of mass is almost always at the hand grip spot, the kettlebell center of mass is always changing, it can be below the hand, above the hand, or to the sides depending on which exercise is being performed. This is the key difference and a major reason the kettlebell may seem more challenging to learn to a beginner.

Even though kettlebells have been around for many decades, they have not really grown in widespread use until more recent times with the rise of functional fitness and cross-training in the early 2000's. As more people understand how to use them however, Kettlebells are moving from a niche market and into the mainstream. To workout with a Kettlebell, the athlete grabs the top handle and performs various movements with the Kettlebell. These movements can be basic to advanced, and do require good form. A kettlebell and dumbbell differ in that the kettlebell has the option to use with one hand or with two. The dumbbell is designed to be used by one hand, with the exception of a few exercises like dumbbell cleans, one arm rows, or overhead tricep extension.  These one arm dumbbell exercises are more limited in scope, whereas the kettlebell is the opposite, most exercises are with one bell. This allows for a good number of exercise variation with kettlebells which is simply not possible with a dumbbell.  If you've ever walked into a gym and the dumbbells are all taken but those kettlebells are all sitting alone on the rack then maybe its a sign to start learning kettlebells.

ISF Kettlebells

ISF Finished Kettlebells


What is a Dumbbell?

A dumbbell is a type of free weight with a handle in the middle and weights on either end. The dumbbell can be fixed, meaning that the weights on the end are a fixed part of the handle, or the dumbbell can be adjustable, meaning the handle and weight are not one piece, and the weight plate is usually attached to the handle via some type of collar. In terms of function, the fixed dumbbell or the adjustable dumbbell both serve the same purpose. Unlike with the Kettlebell center of mass being the ball below the handle, the dumbbell is evenly balanced with the center of mass being the handle at the grip point. This makes the dumbbell easier to use for a beginner, since less stabilizing muscles are being recruited and the feeling is very natural. Usually dumbbells are used in pairs, although many exercises can be performed with a single piece like heavy dumbbell rows or dumbbell snatch.



Difference between Kettlebells and Dumbbells

Dumbbells are very easy to use.  Anyone who wants to begin working out can pickup a dumbbell and just start using it.  This mainly is due to the center of mass being at the handle as already mentioned, whereas the Kettlebell center of mass is always changing depending on how it is gripped and what exercise is being performed.  Because of this, there is a greater barrier to entry to its use as it is less intuitive to be in a balanced position when using the kettlebell.  Even some intermediate level kettlebellers who may seem very advanced will admit that they still have much to learn when it comes to Kettlebell training.  This is very different from dumbbell training as it is significantly easier to pickup and start using.  However with the kettlebell use being more complex, it just means that there is a little higher learning curve before becoming accustomed to using them which may lead to a higher risk reward benefit.     

Kettlebells, while initially more difficult to learn, really do offer greater flexibility in workouts and offer unparalleled full body workout, however it does not mean that they are better.  Better will really depend on what you are trying to accomplish with your workouts. If for example, you are just trying to stay or get into shape, whether you take up the dumbbell or the kettlebell is really secondary to just being active with either.  You can tone the body and lose belly fat, or build muscle up with either really.  Putting in the time in this case regardless of the tool being used is far more beneficial than if nothing is being done at all.  

At ISF Fitness Equipment, we have warehouse pickup locations in NJ and FL, and we also ship nationally.  We sell tons of kettlebells and dumbbells.  Check us out for all your fitness equipment needs today.  

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