Kettlebells Are Only Better Than Dumbbells When…

by Josh Hanagarne on August 21, 2010

Few things are more tiresome than MARKETING LIKE THIS!!!!!

I say this both as a kettlebell addict and aficionado: I hate the marketing for kettlebells, but then, I hate most marketing. I’m a certified kettlebell instructor and the organization that certified me sends me more spam than anyone else on the web.

And at the same time, I’m talking out of both sides of my face. I say I hate it, but I can obviously be marketed to. Otherwise, my wife would not trip over the little family of Russian kettlebells that lives on our back porch. I’ve even got the things in my logo up there.

Marketing claims: ignore them

There are many claims about why the KB is the greatest thing ever. Yes, they are talked about in such glowing terms that a person could get the impression that these bells are something other than inanimate pieces of metal.

They deserve a lot of the hype, but that is because any tool can work for fat loss, strength gain, and muscle building. Anything. If the only thing I had to lift was a roll of quarters, I could still get stronger. How? By putting the quarters away and doing some bodyweight drills, that’s how.

For myself, the only reason I like kettlebells more than other tools is because I think they are fun to use. They’re a lot more enjoyable than running for cardio, and I think they’re fun to juggle.

That’s it.

If you would like to hear all of the reasons why kettlebells will save your soul, a few internet searches will quickly bring you a list of ad copy TYPED LIKE THIS!!!! Ignore it. The only question that really matters is whether you will enjoy kettlebell workouts or not. You won’t know until you try.

Until you try, I would like to examine what I believe is the most common selling point:

Kettlebells are better than dumbbells or barbells because…

Nope. I use kettlebells, I love them, I use them in all of my classes and with all of my clients, but the truth is that they are not essential for anything. No weight is.

But there are instances where a tool can be more right than another, but not essential. For example, I do a lot of grip training. The added grip benefit is a major reason I use kettlebells, because the only way to bottoms up press a kettlebell is to have a kettlebell to press. So if you happen to be obsessed with your hand strength the way I am, then yes, maybe you would get more benefit out of pressing an upside down kb than trying the same thing with a dumbbell.

The kettlebell is only essential if your goal is to get better at working out with kettlebells. You cannot improve your kettlebell technique with a dumbbell. You cannot improve your kettlebell juggling with a barbell.

If you want to get better at lifting kbs, then yes, they are superior to all other tools for your goals and purposes. If you love to use them more than anything else, then they’re obviously the best choice for you.You’ll get better results if you enjoy your training.

But if your goal is something as simple as getting stronger or losing fat, well…people were doing those things long before they started selling two pound kettlebells on the rack at Barnes and Noble.

Josh

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

MaiLinda May 26, 2012 at 8:27 am

I totally agree that kettlebells (KB) are NOT essential to a workout. That aside …. I started using KB 3 weeks ago. OMG! They are so darn fun!! They make the time FLY – I mean F-L-Y – when I’m toning.

I have always found dumbells (DB) boring. But I was intimidated for the longest time to use KB because I didn’t know what to do with them other than swing them in the air.

Through U-Tube, I have found limitless ways to use KB – which, can be done with DB – but I think in a LESS effective manner. The selling point with me on the KB is that they SWING. This gets your HR up – up – up. And while your HR is going UP…. your toning is being done simultaneously.

In 20 minutes I can literally (while in my classroom) do a KB workout that has me sweating so much by the end that I have to change my workclothes – less I stink for my students.

KB are not mandatory to a workout. But for me, they provide MAXIUMUM entertainment of swinging while doing it. I’d say your post is spot on! MaiLinda / Tampa

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Josh Hanagarne May 26, 2012 at 9:41 am

Thanks! I wouldn’t want to train without them, but I could certainly do it.

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J. F. O'Neill October 26, 2012 at 7:26 am

Good observation. There is one thing I think is “mandatory” and a necessity for strength and fitness: bodyweight only movements. If a person cannot do pullups, pushups, full squats, and the like, then one is not strong or fit. The best way to make those things easy is to do them. Now, they may not play a big role in more advanced practice of strength, but they should always be possible with ease.

One could make a case for many basic strength tools, but none of them are necessary.

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Josh Hanagarne October 26, 2012 at 8:58 am

Well said.

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