Are Kettlebells Or Dumbbells Superior For Gym Based Strength Gains?

If you were to put kettlebells vs dumbbells into a fight to see which training method returned the best overall strength gains, who do you think would come out on top? This is a popular gym argument which has raged for many years, and today we will use the latest science to teach you the answer.

While it’s not uncommon to meet individuals who swear blindly that following one protocol is the best way to build muscle and lose body fat, the general consensus is that the optimal results can be achieved through a varied combination of both methods as well as lesser known styles, including resistance bands and suspension trainers.

In an attempt to draw a line in the sand between warring gym enthusiasts who swear by one approach or the other, scientists from California State University, Fullerton recently drew up a study where they could directly compare strength improvements between the two styles.

First of all, we had one study group performing a six week program of kettlebell swings, goblet squats and accelerated swings with a 16 kg weight in a bid to improve squat strength, power clean strength and vertical leap power.

Their second group of subjects were put through a 6 week course of squats, high pulls and power cleans using free weights in a bid to boost strength on squat, power clean and vertical leap. They used a weight which was equal to 80% of their one repetition max.

After the six week course was over, the results were overwhelmingly in favor of free weight training. Barbell squats improved one rep max on squats by a huge 15%, whereas goblet squats only resulted in a 5% increase. Then the free weight group also enjoyed a 10% strength boost to their power clean and 4% vertical leap.

Their kettlebell counterparts, on the other hand, could only manage a 4% increase to their power clean and added just 1% to their vertical leap. Those results were quite surprising, given the explosive nature of kettlebell training in general.

These results clearly document that free weights return superior strength gains overall.

However, this would be ill-advisable. A combination of various different techniques is the key to finding a well balanced, progressive training program which gives you a continuous plethora of new results. By limiting yourself to one training style, you are waving goodbye to various other techniques you could have picked up if you were only a bit more open-minded.

Truth be told, you would do nicely to take small pieces of various techniques and combine them in to your own training routine until you find something which works for you. There are certain things which you can do with a kettlebell that you simply can not accomplish as conveniently with free weights, the swing for example.

The battle between kettlebells vs dumbbells will be one that undoubtedly cuts most gyms down the middle depending upon personal choice. However, the latest scientific research clearly documents one winner.

Today’s writer: Russ Howe PTI is a nationally followed south shields personal trainer who trains people via the internet. His advice on the subject of kettlebells vs dumbbells will help you get results.