Walk into any gym, and you’ll likely encounter two basic kinds of free weights: the trusty dumbbells and the new kid on the block, the kettlebells. Both have their merits and devotees, but one question often persists: When it comes to getting results, is one better than the other? Here, experts weigh in on which to choose and when.
Dynamic Movements: Kettlebells
When it comes to explosive, physical movements, kettlebells are king. If your goal is powerlifting, plyo improvements, or if you’re competing in a sport that requires explosiveness (like basketball or CrossFit games), research suggests kettlebells lead to greater gains.1
Choose these for exercises that recruit several major muscle groups and involve moving in a big, significant way. Some typical kettlebell moves include snatches, cleans, windmills, Turkish get-ups, and of course, the kettlebell swing.
Swings are also great because they can spike your heart rate, providing cardiovascular as well as strength benefits, says Dell Polanco, head coach at BRICK New York. Unlike a simple curl or press, the kettlebell swing activates your entire posterior chain of muscles—your glutes, hamstrings, and erector spinae (back muscles), he explains.