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

dumbells-vs-kettlebells

For the last 10 years, kettlebells and dumbbells have been fighting each other. There are people who refuse to trade their kettlebells even for a golden dumbbell, but there are also those who think that kettlebells are nothing more than a scam. Who is the winner?

Nothing but a tool

Kettlebells and dumbbells are just tools designed to get you stronger. They both have pros and cons. The factors that decide which one is more effective are your goals and exercise selection.

For example, kettlebell front squats are more comfortable than dumbbells squats. Kettlebells are also superior for swings and overhead presses. You have a nice handle, and the shape of the bell allows you to perform those exercises smoothly.


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 because of its higher quality and integrity.

Kettlebell certifications are annoying

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? Back in the day, there were neither barbell nor dumbbells certifications.

Of course, people would say that if you are a personal trainer, having as many certifications as possible is highly beneficial, but that’s true only if your customers are spoiled first world tools who sue companies for serving them hot coffee. Besides, most certifications are nothing more than overpriced 1-day seminars.

Which one is better for muscle mass?

Dumbbells offer more variety and focus on slow lifting whereas kettlebells promote ballistic movements. Many exercises feel great with a kettlebell, but dumbbells will allow you to create a more balanced program based on progressive overload. In the long run, dumbbells are the better bodybuilding choice as far as the upper body is concerned.

Ultimately, 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?

To summarize: Nobody cares what kind of weights you use. Experiment with both and implement them in different parts of your training.

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