What differs Kettlebells from Dumbells?

I got this sent to me in an email, and I thought I’d address it here

Apart from the handle, what makes kettlebells special? ┬áCan’t you do all the same exercises (snatch etc) with regular dumbbells as well, is it some special grip thing? In fact I would think that because the center of mass in a KB is so far removed form the joint, it will place additional stress and has a higher risk of injury due to improper technique? – Jim

My response to Jim, It is simply a thing of tools, I do kettlebells because I love kettlebells. I love bodyweight exercises as well but a chunk of steel, a ball of molded iron.. it simply has kind of a barbarian factor.

Now the injury thing again is kinda the thing that I call bullshit on because ANY injury in a sport is either due to completely improper technique or doing something stupid.

Improper technique with kettlebells can be handled easily by learning the right technique and PRACTICING instead of training in the beginning. Kettlebell lifts are highly technical, but easy to learn.

I have personally done Swings, Snatches, Clean & Jerks with both dumbbells and kettlebells and highly prefer kettlebells for most of them. For the snatch I think up to a certain weight actually dumbbells are to be preferred but a dumbbell snatch is still a completely different exercise than a kettlebell snatch. I ask you to try both and you will see the difference. For swings, the dumbbell really really sucks. The kettlebell with its mass distribution and handling here totally takes the win. What about clean and jerk? The kettlebell takes the win because handling the dumbbell in the rack position really really sucks while the kettlebell with proper technique rests on your body like a baby.

For feats of strength, which is a completely different way of training, kettlebells and dumbbells are pretty much up to par with each other, while the dumbbell has higher load on the forearms in certains lifts because it does not rest on the forearm as the kettlebell does. The dumbbell in those exercises if not trained correctly is more dangerous for the wrist.

For those who call bullshit on that : Try a turkish get up with both a kettlebell and dumbbell of significant weight and you will totally know what i mean.

The other thing that is more the fun aspect of kettlebells :

Juggling. There is some shit you can only do with a kettlebell and that is what makes these fun too. Juggling them around, doing Figure 8s, Halos, flips and some other stuff I will cover in my book soon. I will mainly focus on the basic lifts, but juggling is where the kettlebells are real fun!

About BWE: Don’t buy into the hype of anything. Functional movement is every movement that you can use, wether it is with a dumbbell, barbell, kettlebell or your own bodyweight. In fact, it is all about the exercises and their functionality. For example a deadlift means lifting something from the ground. Thats pretty practical, isn’t it? Kettlebell Swings are explose back, hip and glute movements. I am gonna let you figure where you can bang that shit out.

Now you can do pullups which will get you to be able to climb up somewhere. Muscle-Ups are even better once you can do them. The idea is, that you get a certain amount of strength and tension to do things and then learn coordination.

Once you are there, all you should focus on apart from your maintenance weight and conditioning training is movements that you actually perform. It makes no sense for an olympic gymnast to practice the deadlift up 600lbs. But it does not make sense either for a powerlifter to try get the iron cross done. Learn about the application you want to have and then apply it. Otherwise get a body training that trains you in all kinds modalities, leads to growth, maximal strength, endurance and explosiveness among all planes of motion, forward, upward, downward, sideward and rotational.

I hope I could be of service.Starting June im gonna take money for advice, so keep the questions coming, this way im gonna be able to create a default FAQ list!

2 comments to What differs Kettlebells from Dumbells?

  • shez

    Is there an age limit and fitness limit to using kettlebells. I used to weight lift many years ago and would like to get back into it, (as always found the results quick and effective), however my fitness level is naff and am approaching 50 (female).

  • Wouter

    You can do kettlebells at any age and fitness level. Just adjust your routine accordingly. It is important to use proper technique so get a good instructor who can help you with your program and technique.

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