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Kettlebell v/s Dumbbell

By | In Articles, Kettlebell | on

                                                                          Kettlebell V/s Dumbbell


A common question often asked during my seminars : “What makes a kettlebell different than a dummbell?” has become so frequently asked that it led me to write this article to end this Kettlebell V/s Dumbbell debate.

Kettlebells and dumbbells are both free weights which give a unilateral or isolateral ltraining advantage over barbells.

You may wonder, isn’t a kettlebell just like a dumbbell? In some respects they are the same but, what makes the kettlebell different is its shape. It may look like an ordinary weight, but the u-shaped handle actually changes how the weight works with your body.

With a dumbbell, the center of gravity lies in the your hand with the weights on either ends, but, with the kettlebell, the weight distributiong is different & the center of gravity lies outside of your hand, which means it can change depending on how you’re holding it and moving it. This displaced COG in a kettlebell creates a centrifugal force while swinging it and hence generate the SPEED which isn’t possible to generate in the dumbbell swing. Try swinging the dumbbell and then the kettlebell to experience it.

The hook grip (which is used to hold the kettlebell in a swing) also allows for a longer set & a higher volume as the finger flexors have greater endurance than forearm flexors, thereby sparing the grip for longer duration and hence ensuring greater volume. During snatches & cleans, it allows to insert the hand in the handle in such a way that the wrist is kept neutral, which again delays the forearm fatigue ensuring greater volume.

From a sports conditioning standpoint, these factors will ensure the following for performance improvement :

a) Greater volume means more work done in a single set and hence more work capacity/conditioning

b) More speed means better power output.

c) More speed on the eccentrics would also mean ability of the muscle to better absorb shocks and learn the skills of deceleration which helps in avoiding injuries in sports as a lot of injuries happen while decelerating.

d) Better balance

e) Teaches the skills of relaxing & creating tension in quick time (which is done in every rep of ballistic kettlebell movements) which is a skill sportsmen require.

Dumbbells are great for building muscle and strength with controlled movements (under constant tension) while kettlebell training involves the entire body and focuses on power with ballistic/dynamic movements. However, it is possible to do rows & presses with kettlebells too, but the displaced COG of kettlebells and the unique shape makes dumbbells a better tool to do them, especially if the goal if maximal strength & hypertrophy.

Abhinav Malhotra

Founder, CEO and Master Coach

Ballistic Kettlebell Fitness Academy

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