The Benefits of Kettlebells



Dumbbells and barbells are the most commonly used implements for weight training that can be found in any gym. However, in recent years another workout tool has grown in popularity to rival both of these modalities: the kettlebell. 

Have you ever used kettlebells?

I have found the the love for the versatility of Kettlebells.  They are my favorite piece of gym equipment.  I feel that I have taken my fitness to a new level when I started using kettlebells.


Dumbbell/Barbell History

Dumbbells have been around for thousands of years with early versions called halteres, used for training in ancient Greece. Their design hasn’t changed much over the millennia. The barbell is a relatively new training tool, only dating back to the mid-1800s. The barbell quickly gained prominence in the gymnasiums of Europe and became a staple of strongman shows as well.


Kettlebell History

Kettlebell history is a little less clear. We know kettlebells were used in Eastern Europe and Russia in the 1700s as counterweights for measuring grain. Some research shows they go back much further, however, possibly even as far back as dumbbells. Dumbbells and barbells may currently be the staple equipment for strength training, but the kettlebell offers many unique benefits that these traditional tools do not.


The Advantages of Kettlebells

Unique Shape




Kettlebells have often been described as a cannonball attached to a handle. The offset weight design provides a different stimulus for the body compared to the evenly distributed weight of a dumbbell or a barbell. The ball and handle design of the kettlebell makes for a longer movement arm, which significantly increases the torque generated around the joints and thus the force required to move the weight.


The uneven weight distribution makes the kettlebell a very practical tool. In everyday life, you rarely lift evenly balanced objects like dumbbells. Kettlebells more closely mimic every day objects found outside the gym, making them a much more functional tool.


Grip Strength


Weight training is a great way to improve your grip, which is essential for strength. While all three modalities (dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells) will help to improve hand, wrist and forearm strength, kettlebells provide the biggest challenge to your grip.


Dumbbells and barbells have lines etched into the handles in a process called knurling, which makes the handle easier to hold onto during sweat sessions. Kettlebell handles, on the other hand, are smooth, making them harder to hold and more taxing on your grip. Kettlebells are ideal for swing, clean, and snatch movements, where the smooth handle allows the bell to glide across your hand without tearing the skin.


Greater Muscle Activation


Kettlebells have been shown in research studies to produce higher rates of muscle activation than dumbbells for exercises like swings, especially in the posterior chain muscles. The shape of the kettlebell requires the lifter to use a different grip than dumbbells or barbells. Not only do you have to utilize more muscle fibers per muscle group, but you also experience deeper muscle activation.


Can Be Held in Many Ways


Dumbbells and barbells are designed to be held in only one way. Barbells, as well as dumbbells, are typically lifted using both hands, although you can do a few exercises using one hand. Kettlebells can be held and lifted in multiple ways: place one or both hands on the handle, hold the handle in the middle, place your hand off to one side of the horns, hold the handle and turn the kettlebell upside down in a bottoms-up position, hold the kettlebell in the rack position, hold the kettlebell by the ball and squeeze with both hands or balance in one, and more.


All of these different positions provide different training effects, especially for the neuromuscular and nervous systems.


Better for Dynamic Movements


Kettlebells are the perfect tool for dynamic movements such as swings, cleans and snatches. The swing is responsible for the rise in popularity of the kettlebell over the last decade. Kettlebell swing is a full-body, compound movement that has been dubbed as the “new king” of exercises. Kettlebell lifting builds muscle, increases endurance and power, strengthens the whole body, and burns calories. A dumbbell can be used to perform single arm swings, but it’s not as safe or comfortable as using a kettlebell. Additionally, the kettlebell allows for many progressive variations of the swing using one or both hands. You can even go as far as juggling kettlebells.


Are you ready to try kettlebells?

About Lisa

Hey! Thank you so much for stopping by. I'm Lisa - a homeschool mom of 3 (2 boys and 1 girl). I care about the strength of the family in America, and often blog about babies/kids, natural parenting, homeschool, and marriage. Before you leave, please sign up for my monthly newsletter (on the top right). If you do, you will be well rewarded with notification of all giveaways and sales - which will not be announced on the blog. Google+ Profile


  1. Christina Arnold says:

    Hey, you! I was just thinking about you! I am organizing old photos and came across sooooooo many of yours. (All those ones I put watermarks on and more lol). I’m glad to see you’re still here. I’m going to poke around your site a little more.

    P.S. The fact that my design is still here has made me smile from ear to ear!

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