Kettlebells and Free Weights- How do they differ?

Adjustable Kettlebell_40

Are adjustable kettlebells
a bridge between dumbells
and kettlebells?


There are differences in training with a kettlebell or training with free weights or dumbbells that are subtle yet significant. Let’s take a look at what those differences are and how they impact you.

Kettlebells were NOT originally designed as exercise tools. They originated in Europe centered mainly in Russia from a counter weight that was used to weigh agricultural harvests such as grain. For entertainment and strength challenges, workers began to use them in to show their strength and pass time during harvest breaks. Over time they took on a life of their own and today are seen as a legitimate tool for workouts.

As a result of their origin from a counter weight, kettlebells have a well balanced center of gravity which is offset relative to the handle. This makes them inherently well balanced within their own design. Consequently,  a properly chosen and used kettlebell weight will actively engage major muscle groups and your core muscles during the workouts. This helps make kettlebell workouts more comprehensive and engaging than others forms of resistance training since more parts of the body are engaged during the movements to control the moving weight of the bell.

This also adds to the efficiency of the kettlebell workout because more parts of the body are used since the movements are dynamic in scope. The dynamic part of the workout can create an aerobic effect that can contribute to cardiovascular fitness and weight loss as well. People with busy lifestyles that find exercise time difficult to come by can profit from the combination of resistance or strength training combined with dynamic or aerobic movements because it shortens workout times while producing a comprehensive impact.

Perhaps, the most significant advantage kettlebells  have over other free weights is that the whole body is used in many of its exercises. By engaging more muscle groups at the same time, you are burning additional calories while building muscle strength. This helps you to efficiently lose fat and tones rather than bulks muscle on the body.

Free weights tend to isolate muscle groups more efficiently which is why they build bulk. If your goal is fitness, toning and weight loss and it is not important for you to look like Arnold, then kettlebell workouts would be a better choice for you. If it is bulk and appearance you are after than free weights may be a better choice. However, you can achieve both with the kettlebell as well since the weight of a single kettlebell can exceed 100 lbs. which is more than adequate to meet most free weight resistance training needs.


Used correctly, kettlebells are a highly effective tool for fitness workouts.  Their simple design demands that you exert greater effort to handle and control the movements of each exercise. They require the whole body to engage in resisting the external force of the motion to control the kettlebell. Since the movements require controlled power by the whole body, it makes kettlebell training an ideal tool for a wide variety of sports as well which I’ll cover in a future post.

Take some time and check out different kettlebell workout reviews.  Once you begin working with the kettlebell, I think you will find it to be an addictive way yet pleasant to get in shape and generate positive fitness results.

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