Kettlebell Vs Dumbbell (Which Is Better For Home Workouts?)

Go into any commercial gym around the world, and you will find a dumbbell rack and a collection of kettlebells. These pieces of equipment are extremely popular for a reason; they are both excellent tools in building a chiseled godlike physique. 

In this article, we are going to look at what makes each one special and how they compare to each other in terms of different goals and factors. 

Let's get it out there -- we love both the dumbbell and kettlebell, and we don't think it should be an either-or decision, rather than a choice on what is better for you for your current goals.

Kettlebells are the newer of the two and have exploded in popularity in recent years. Strangely enough, kettlebells do not, in fact, look like a kettle at all. Instead, they are made of a spherical weight, usually cast iron, with a handle on top of them. 

Originally, they were used in Russia by strongmen to train their grip and strength for competitions ahead.

Since then, the rest of the world has clocked on to the benefits and effectiveness of the kettlebell, and this has led to mass adoption in gyms everywhere. 

Kettlebell workouts usually come in two forms, high strength, high grip training lifts, and high-rep endurance swings that improve core strength, balance, and explosive power. 

man doing kettlebell renegade rows

The kettlebell is so effective at this kind of training due to the design. With a center of gravity that is vastly different from a dumbbell, you really have to engage your core and stabilizers in order to perform kettlebell swings and movements. 

As a beginner, it is important to take care with kettlebell training. Many people will assume that they can pick a higher-weight kettlebell just because they train at a similar weight with barbells or dumbbells, but the center of gravity shifts in a different way with a kettlebell. This can lead to injury for the inexperienced. 

To perform a kettlebell exercise safely, you need to plant your feet firmly on the ground with the weight pushed into the heels. This will give you extra balance and secure your spine from injury. Start all movements through the legs, not the back. Just think about lifting as if you would heavy box. 

Kettlebells make for the perfect addition to a home gym; they are relatively inexpensive, come in a range of sizes and shapes, and can be used in numerous ways. 


Pros & Cons Of Regular Kettlebell Use 

What We Like 

  • Incredible calorie burning potential
  • Perfect grip strength trainer 
  • Amazing for endurance 
  • Core burning and tightening 

Things We Don’t 

  • Easy to injure yourself 
  • Doesn’t isolate muscles as well as dumbbells 

Dumbbells (Overview + Pros & Cons) 

Dumbbells are the OG of the gym for a reason. They have been around for a long, long time, and almost every gym user in the world has picked one up at some point in their lifting career. Most lifters use different types of dumbbells in almost every single session.

Simple at the core, dumbbells are simply a handle with two weights on each side that allow you to pick up a balanced weight and lift it through a variety of movements. 

Dumbbells come in a range of sizes, weights, and materials. Most common are the rubber-coated vinyl ranges that you will find in commercial gyms. These are easy to use, nearly impossible to break, and will last a long, long time. 

Then you have the adjustable plate style of dumbbell. These are essentially a shortened barbell, with a loadable space that you can place weight plates onto in order to set the weight. These are usually made of cast iron with a much deeper knurl.

Lastly are the fulluy adjustable dumbbells which have gained popularity in recent years. You can read more about them in this dumbbell product guide.

Dumbbells are perfect for isolation movements. This is where you target a single muscle group or a single muscle for intense progressive overload. A common example of this is the bicep curl, which places huge stress on your biceps. This is perfect as muscles like the bicep used during the day require higher stimuli than, say, your delts, which aren't used as often. 

man doing concentration bicep curls with dumbbells

Pros & Cons Of Dumbbell Exercises 

What We Like 

  • Perfect for isolation 
  • Amazing progressive overload ability 
  • Every gym has them 
  • Beginner-friendly 

Things We Don’t 

  • Expensive to buy full sets 

Kettlebell Vs Dumbbell: Which Is Better For Home Workouts?

Now you know a little bit about both the dumbbell and the kettlebell, let’s have a look at how they compare head to head in a range of categories. This should help you decide which is better for your goals. 

Weight Range

In terms of their specific weight ranges, the dumbbell is slightly better, but only by a tiny margin. This is because the adjustable range of dumbbells allows you to fine-tune how much weight you want to lift to a higher degree as you can use the smaller plates down to 2 lbs. 

Kettlebells come in set weights, usually starting around 6KG (13.2 lbs) and increasing by 2KG (4.04 lbs) at a time. This means you have less control over your weight. 

Winner: Dumbbells 

Performance & Durability

In terms of performance, both kettlebells and dumbbells use different motions, which means they are different fundamentally.

Therefore, if you are looking to build mass and strength in specific muscles, you will be better off using a dumbbell.  

If you want to build core strength, explosive power, and balance, you will be better off using a kettlebell. 

In terms of durability, it is going to depend upon what you buy.

Vinyl-coated dumbbells are quieter and less damaging to the floor, and the same is true with rubber-coated kettlebells. 

If you buy cast iron, non-coated equipment, you might need to be careful of your floor. 

Both kettlebells and dumbbells are designed to be durable, and if you buy a reputable brand, you shouldn't have to worry about dropping them too much. 

Winner: Tie 

Safety For Lifters

All lifting comes with a risk of injury, but kettlebells, in particular, have a high injury rate. This is due to inexperienced lifters picking up kettlebells that are too heavy for them. Kettlebells require some education to use properly as they have a strange center of gravity that moves during movements. 

Dumbbells are typically safer, but you will still need to take care. Dropping a dumbbell on your toe will hurt… a lot, and let's not even think about what happens if you drop one on your face. 

Winner: Dumbbells 

Available Space/Footprint

If space is important, as it is for the majority of garage gym builders, dumbbells and kettlebells are similar in profile. If you plan to get set weight kettlebells or set weight dumbbells, you will have to make sure you have room for both. 

Adjustable dumbbells are the perfect answer as they usually take up a lot less space than a dumbbell rack or a tower of kettlebells. 

Winner: Dumbbells 

For Muscle Building 

In terms of building raw mass and bulk, the dumbbell reigns supreme and always will. To build as much mass as possible, you need to progressively overload your muscles as much as humanely possible. To do this, it is better to isolate the muscle you want to bulk up and nothing else. Dumbbells allow you to do this much more effectively than kettlebells.

Winner: Dumbbells

For Weight Loss

Kettlebells are much more effective for weight loss due to the fact that you need to engage most of your core and a lot of your other muscle groups to perform the exercises. Even just lifting a kettlebell from the floor will engage numerours core muscles. This means you will burn a lot more calories utilizing a kettlebell.  

Winner: Kettlebells

For Strength & Power

If you want to effectively build both strength and power, we recommend that you utilize both these incredible tools. Your body adapts to your workouts, so cycling dumbbell routines with kettlebell routines will allow you to maximize your gains. 

Winner: Tie 

For Crossfit Workouts 

Side Crunches

Due to the nature of side crunches, it is much easier to hold onto a kettlebell when the burn kicks in. 

Winner: Kettlebells

Curls

In terms of curls, the dumbbell will always be king. Nothing else targets the biceps in the same way. Curling with a kettlebell just feels unnatural and will most likely throw you off during a session. 

WinnerDumbbells

Squats  

When doing goblin squats, where you hold the weight below you, you will be better off picking the most comfortable of the two for you. Some people love the kettlebell for squats, and some prefer to hold a dumbbell; both work equally well. 

Winner: Tie 

Dumbbell Hex Press

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Can you use a dumbbell for kettlebell swings? 

No, the design of the dumbbell prevents you from holding it in the same position as the kettlebell swing. To reap all the benefits of kettlebell swings, you should use the appropriate kettlebell weight and technique.

Should serious home gyms have both of these pieces of equipment? 

While you do not need to have both pieces of equipment to build an awesome physique, owning both will give you a lot more versatility in your workouts. Dumbbells and kettlebells both do certain things that the other cannot, and by using both, you will see quicker gains. 

Why do people consider kettlebells better than dumbbells? 

Kettlebells are able to combine cardio, endurance, and strength. Dumbbells are more of a one-trick pony. Unless the pure size is your only goal, you get more options with a kettlebell. 


Conclusion

There we have it! We hope that you have a lot more knowledge about these awesome gym staples after reading this article. Do not worry if you are on the fence still. Both the kettlebell and dumbbell are incredible pieces of equipment, and you will not regret purchasing either one. 

Paul J