When building your own home gym, you’ll likely encounter these two types of weights: dumbbells and kettlebells. Both are great for various workouts. But if you only had to choose one, which should you pick?
I put together this home gym kettlebells vs. dumbbells article to help you decide.
Whether a kettlebell or a dumbbell is better has been one of the longest-standing debates in the fitness community.
Some people say dumbbells are better because they are easy to use and are a great tool for strength and muscle building.
Others argue kettlebells are better because they are more challenging. It helps improve grip strength, and are a great tool for cardio and power training.
As a personal trainer, I believe both are a great addition to your home gym. If possible for your budget and space, it might be better to have both weights. Let’s take a look at how they differ and which one can help you reach your fitness goals faster.
Let’s start the home gym kettlebells vs. dumbbells review.
Table of Contents
- Home Gym Kettlebells Vs Dumbbells Comparison
- Home Gym Kettlebells Vs Dumbbells: The Winner
- Which type of weight is better for you?
- FAQ about home gym kettlebells vs dumbbells
- What to do next?
Home Gym Kettlebells Vs Dumbbells Comparison
The most obvious difference between a dumbbell and a kettlebell is the shape. Dumbbells have long bars for handling with equal weights at both ends.
While kettlebells have a cannonball-like weight at the bottom and a handle at the top. Since these weights have different shapes, their weight distribution is also significantly different.
For dumbbells, the weight is symmetrical on each side, so the center of mass is at the handles. When you hold the dumbbell, the weight is evenly distributed, so it is easy to grip and feels stable.
For kettlebells, the weight below is heavier than the handles, so the center of mass is located at the bottom, underneath the handle. When you hold a kettlebell, it seems like you are holding a kettle, so it may feel less stable than a dumbbell and therefore harder to grip.
The weight distribution of these weights makes them compatible with different workouts and techniques.
Winner Weight Distribution Comparison
As it is a matter of personal preference, this one will have to be a draw. For beginners, I recommend using dumbbells, as they are easier to handle and less intimidating.
Type of Workout
Dumbbells are typically used for muscle-building, and they are easy to incorporate into different exercises.
They are great for basic movements like chest presses or squats. The movements you do are slow and straightforward, so they are good for beginners.
One study found that weightlifting led to a greater gain in strength than kettlebell training . This is because the movement of dumbbells is slower and more controlled than with kettlebells.
Additionally, dumbbells activate more of your muscles than other fitness tools during certain exercises . So if you want to build strength and improve your general fitness, I recommend dumbbells for you.
Dumbbells are great for isolation exercises, or workouts that target specific muscles of your body. They are also used for bilateral training, where you exercise both sides of your body simultaneously.
Kettlebell exercises offer similar benefits as dumbbell training. Kettlebells offer a unique training experience, as their center of gravity is located below the handle.
They are ideal for dynamic, explosive movements, such as swings, cleans, and snatches.
These exercises are not really possible to perform with dumbbells. Swinging kettlebells can create a fluid, rhythmic movement that may be easier on the body.
The technique for kettlebell swings and snatches requires some training. If you are not careful, you could drop the kettlebell on your foot, bruise your wrist, or injure your shoulder or back.
You can use kettlebells and dumbbells during high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. But you may have noticed that you work up a sweat more when using kettlebells.
Kettlebells are usually used for power and cardio training, due to the explosive movements that can spike up your heart rate and work up your muscles.
Since kettlebells are less stable than dumbbells, kettlebells are more challenging to use and work your stabilizer muscles.
Dumbbells and Kettlebell Workouts
This may sound controversial, but in some exercises and improvisation, you can use kettlebells and dumbbells interchangeably.
Ideally, there are specific exercises for each weight, but you can do many of the same workouts with both.
Interchanging these weights will make basic movements like shoulder press more challenging. If you want to shed some weight, both tools are effective for weight loss.
Winner Type of Workout Comparison
This one would have to be a draw, as it all depends on your goals. If you want to focus on strength and general fitness, go with dumbbells. If you want cardio and power, go with kettlebells. Both tools are effective for weight loss.
Both the dumbbell and kettlebell are available in a wide range of weights.
Dumbbells come in weight sets with small increments. They are usually available in 0.5 to 50-pound weight ranges, and in 2.5 or 5-pound increments.
But small increments like dumbbells are usually not available for kettlebells.
Finding the right weight to match your fitness level is easier on the dumbbells, because you have more options. You can gradually build up your strength.
For kettlebells, you don’t have as many options as with dumbbells. Kettlebells come in increments of 4, 5 or 9 pounds, so you’ll find sizes such as 10, 15, 25, 26, 35, and 44 pounds.
Winner Weights Comparison
The dumbbells are the winner, they come with more weight options than kettlebells.
Handles and Grip Strength
Another difference between these two weights is the handles. The handles of kettlebells have smooth textures designed to be held with one or two hands.
While the dumbbell’s handle has knurling patterns designed for one-hand use. Some dumbbells have a smooth texture, like those that use neoprene coating.
But dumbbells with heavy weights have those patterns to increase friction and avoid dropping it.
The smooth texture of the kettlebell doesn’t give a good grip, so you might send it flying when doing swings if you are not careful.
This may seem like a disadvantage for kettlebells, but this feature actually trains your hand to grip harder and therefore improves your grip strength.
Winner Handles and Grip Strength Comparison
The handles and grip strength comparison are also a draw, as it depends on your preference. You can use dumbbells if you want to avoid dropping weights. Or you can use kettlebells, which are more challenging to hold, but improve your grip strength.
Dumbbells come in different variations, such as fixed, adjustable, and smart.
Fixed dumbbells have permanent weight and are the most common. Though, they can be affordable if you only buy one pair. It could be expensive if you buy a set of different weights.
Adjustable dumbbells have removable plates, so you can adjust the weight. The disadvantage is that they tend to be more expensive upfront.
Smart dumbbells are weights that you can connect to the internet or Bluetooth. They’re usually more expensive than other types of dumbbells. But they also have many high-tech features, such as counting reps, tracking your workouts, and more.
Dumbbells are also available in various materials, such as cast iron, neoprene, concrete, and rubber.
Like dumbbells, kettlebells are also available in various styles and materials.
Fixed kettlebells have fixed weights and do not come in pairs. Adjustable kettlebells come with weight plates that you can remove or add to adjust the weight.
Although they are relatively new, smart kettlebells are becoming more popular. These types of kettlebells have built-in sensors that can track your workouts and adjust the kettlebell’s weight.
Some kettlebells use materials such as cast iron, vinyl coating, and steel. But there are also adjustable kettlebells made with bags that you can fill with sand or water.
Winner Style Comparison
The style comparison is a draw, as it depends on your preference and budget.
Since dumbbells have been around longer than kettlebells and are popular fitness equipment. They are generally cheaper than kettlebells. But the price difference is not that steep.
Winner Cost Comparison
There is no significant price difference between dumbbells and kettlebells.
Home Gym Kettlebells Vs Dumbbells: The Winner
After taking into account all features, the dumbbell is superior in terms of weight options. Because it is available in smaller weight increments, which allows you to build up your strength gradually.
However, this is not a deal-breaker, as kettlebells also provide enough weight range to build up your strength.
So the debate about which weight is better between the two would have to be a draw. Although, one might be better than the other at certain exercises. It depends on your preference and goals.
In general, both weights are great for toning and strengthening muscles. So the best option is to get both and use them together.
Which type of weight is better for you?
Which type of weight is better for your fitness goals?
Dumbbells and kettlebells have their own strong suits when it comes to fitness goals. You can use them interchangeably, but these are their general benefits and use.
Both weights can help you lose weight. Kettlebells help you lose weight through high-intensity interval training (HIIT). While dumbbells help shed weight through resistance training at a slow pace.
Strength and Muscle Building
Studies show that dumbbells are better at muscle activation and lead to greater strength gains. It is also available in smaller increments that can help you build strength gradually.
Dumbbells allow you to perform isolation exercises that target specific muscles.
Kettlebell is a great option for non-traditional cardio training and HIIT. These exercises work up a sweat, helping you burn calories.
Kettlebells require dynamic and explosive movements that build power and speed. Their designs are built for swinging and snatching movements.
Kettlebell swings target your quads, core, hip flexors, and hamstrings. While snatches work your hamstrings, shoulders, core and back.
Which type of weight is better for beginners?
Everyone is familiar with dumbbells as fitness equipment. For most of us, the first gym equipment we held onto is the dumbbell.
This is because dumbbells are beginner-friendly and are pretty straightforward to use. They are also versatile, lightweight, and portable.
The shape of dumbbells is symmetrical, so they feel stable when you hold the handle. Sometimes the handles have knurling patterns, which help avoid the risk of dropping.
Unlike the kettlebell, which feels unstable and has smooth handles that might slip from your hand.
Furthermore, the technique for kettlebell swings and snatches requires some training to learn the correct movement to not hurt your back or wrists.
If you are not careful, you could drop the kettlebell on your foot, get wrist bruises, or experience shoulder and back injuries.
So the weights I recommend for beginners are dumbbells.
Which type of weight is better for your budget?
In general, you will pay more for kettlebells than dumbbells. But the price difference is not significant.
Price varies depending on the weight, quality, and materials used. So you might see this type of weight is more expensive than the other, but there are many factors that affect the price point.
FAQ about home gym kettlebells vs dumbbells
Are dumbbells or kettlebells better for home gym?
Whether dumbbells or kettlebells are better at home gym depends on your fitness goals. If you want to do power and cardio training, kettlebells are better. If you want to build strength and muscle, dumbbells are better. Both weights are effective for weight loss.
Why are kettlebells more effective than dumbbells?
Kettlebells are harder to lift than dumbbells, because the design of kettlebells is not symmetrical, and the center of mass is below the handles. I believe the explosive nature of some typical kettlebell exercises, like the swing and the snatch, also contributes to being more effective. Of course, it depends on the goal.
Do kettlebells work the same as dumbbells?
You can use the kettlebells and dumbbells interchangeably in some exercises or improvisation. But they don’t work the same. Kettlebells are commonly used for dynamic and explosive movements, while dumbbells are for slow and straightforward movements.
What to do next?
Dumbbells and kettlebells might be confusing at first. Both are weightlifting equipment that can help you build muscle, burn fat, and improve your fitness level.
Understanding their use and benefits can help you decide which one works best for you. The key is to know your fitness goals and what type of weight will help you achieve them.