Kettlebells Vs. Dumbbells: What’s better for muscle mass?

For the last 10 years there has been an ongoing fight between kettlebells and dumbbells. There are people who refuse to trade their kettlebells even for a golden dumbbell and there are also those who think kettlebells are nothing more than a scam. Who is the winner here?


Nothing but a tool

Kettlebells and dumbbells are just tools meant to get you stronger and in better condition. Each one has pros and cons over the other and the most decisive factor to determine which better for the task are the exercises you want to do. For example, front squats are much easier and better to do with kettlebells. It feels more comfortable and closer to a real squat with a barbell. Doing front squats with dumbbells is also fine, although not as comfortable. Kettlebells also feel really good for swings and overhead presses. You have a nice handle and the shape of bell allows you to perform those exercises smoothly. At the same time swings with dumbbells are also possible, although a little less comfortable.

For all other exercises dumbbells simply destroy kettlebells. Kettlebells usually come in fixed sizes and the jumps are quite large. While there are some adjustable kettlebells, it’s safe to say that all of them suck badly and it’s better to buy a fixed weight kettlebell. It has better quality and is more solid. However, this means that you don’t have as much control over the jumps you make and your strength progression will have to be done through volume increases. Also, using kettlebells for exercises like bench presses, curls, triceps extensions and many other clasic bodybuilding movements seems highly unpractical and even dangerous.

Fuck kettlebell certifications 

Once somebody gets real famous in the fitness industry, they all come up with seminars and certifications to make extra money. Humans just love having paper that says they can do stuff. The days when we will have certificates proving that we can breath efficiently are coming real soon.

If people were able to think clearly and consciously, it won’t take them too much time to realize that kettlebell certifications are a joke. It’s obvious why doctors would need certifications, but kettlebell mastery is not really as advanced as being a surgeon. How come certifications were unheard of before the kettlebell boom? There were no barbell nor dumbbells certification, although guys like Rippetoe are working in that direction.

Truth be told, you can learn how to do all kettlebell moves without the need to be certified. You can become a master kettlebell user without ever receiving a single certification. Of course, people would say that if you are a personal trainer, having certification is highly beneficial in front of your clients, but that only works, if your customers are spoiled first world tools who sue companies for serving them hot coffee. Fuck your certifications! Oh wait, am I certified to say that?

Use what you need to achieve your goals

Luckily for you nobody has a gun to your head and you can choose freely what to use. We promise not to tell anybody, if you use both. The kettlebell or dumbbell nazis will not receive and information from us regarding your affiliations with the opposite clan.

Kettlbells and dumbbells are nothing but tools meant to get you closer to your goals. Think of them as different types of screwdrivers. Depending on the nut you will need different heads.

Which one is better for muscle mass?

As far as building large muscles is concerned both tools are fine, but dumbbells offer more variety and focus on slow lifting compared to kettlebells which promote ballistic movements. Like we’ve already said the bells are cool for overhead presses, maybe some rows and front squats but dumbbells will allow you to create a more balanced program based on progressive overload. That’s why we are inclined to believe that in the long run dumbbells are the better bodybuilding choice as far as the upper body is concerned.

In the end of the day kettlebells are more of a conditioning tool rather than a mass builder. This does not mean that you can’t build a resilient and strong body with kettlebells. There are many scary muscular individuals who use kettlebells, but even they would agree that dumbbells give you more control and are better for pure bodybuilding purposes.

When was the last time you saw a bodybuilder doing bench presses with kettlebells for the chest?

To summarize: Nobody cares what kind of weights you use. Experiment with both and implement them in different parts of your training. Simple, isn’t it?

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