Kettlebells Vs Dumbbells…What Should You Use?

From Thigh Masters to Shake Weights, I’ve seen a lot of fitness fads in my 30+ years in the fitness industry. But every once in a while, a trend seems to stick and find a permanent place in every gym. And now, that here-to-stay trend is the kettlebell.

But the truth is, kettlebells aren’t new. In fact, they were originally used by Russian bodybuilders in the early 20th century. Between kettlebells and dummbells…how do choose which piece of equipment to incorporate into your routine? The answer is simple. Blending BOTH of these options may be what’s best for your body. Imagine asking a carpenter whether her hammer or screwdriver is the “best” tool. She would likely look at you sideways, and say, “all of the above,” because the best tool is the tool that’s right for the job. Here’s a simple guide for deciding whether kettlebells or dumbbells are the right tool for your training program.


Kathy Smith KettlebellsA kettlebell’s center of gravity shifts during the course of each exercise, so your body – especially your core – naturally responds by engaging more muscles. Plus the shape of a kettlebell is very similar to every day objects like a heavy suitcase, moving a piece of furniture or stack of books, or even a shopping bag. Training with kettlebells has the instant benefit of making life’s heavy lifting a little easier. Although you can use kettlebells and dumbbells interchangeably for some exercises, the real secret to unlocking the power of the kettlebell is to use it differently than you would a traditional dumbbell.  You can even turn a kettlebell workout into a cardio and strength training workout to burn up to 400 calories in 20 minutes (click here to learn how).


Kathy Smith Lift Weights To Lose WeightDumbbells distribute their weight in a linear plane, meaning that both the weights and the handle are on one horizontal line. Use dumbbells to add weight to basic moves, such as bicep curls and standing press. If you’re starting to train for the first time or feel that you’re out of shape, I recommend using 3, 5, 8 and even 10 lb dumbbells. As you become stronger, you’ll begin using 12-, 15- and 20-pound dumbbells to be able to properly overload the muscles. Remember, you can alternate your kettlebell and dumbbell workouts throughout the week. Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 3.39.27 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 3.39.33 PM