Nov 17, 2023


People often confuse working out with a kettlebell and weight lifting since the two routines seem related with a slightly different approach. For the most part, both workouts yield similar results that mainly manifest as muscle hypertrophy, increased strength, and improved bone mineral density.

The main difference between training with a kettlebell and lifting with other weighted tools and equipment is the type of movement being performed. For instance, the kettlebell swing offers a full-body workout by recruiting the vast majority of muscles. On the other hand, performing dumbbell curls primarily benefits the biceps and some accessory muscles.

Here’s a quick breakdown of why kettlebells are different from other free weights, as well their benefits + impact:

  1. Offers an efficient full-body workout 
    The most common mistake that newbies make when beginning their fitness journey is focusing too much on all the workout equipment and heavy machinery found in the gym. These tools primarily target specific muscle groups. While this feature is convenient for high-performing athletes who want to improve the function of a specific muscle group, it could yield the exact opposite result for beginners.
    Kettlebell exercises offer a full-body workout. By relying on your lower body to coordinate the swinging motion while stabilizing the kettlebell with your arms, the entire muscular system is working to perform this exercise. This inevetabily improves cardiovascular health and promotes muscle hypertrophy.

  2. Stimulates your cardiovascular system
    As you swing the kettlebell in the air, your cardiac frequency will rapidly increase to meet muscle demands. This is also a benefit lifting with free weights, as the explosive movement stimulates the heart to pump blood and improve cardiovascular health. Over time, the heart will adapt to the large amounts of blood that are being pumped, which leads to blood vessel expansion mediated by the release of sympathomimetic neurotransmitters.

  3. Promotes flexibility
    Having a desk job and/or a sedentary lifestyle progressively wreaks havoc on your physiological processes. One of the most common complaints from people with low physical activity is decreased flexibility and articular range of motion. For example, the hip joint is especially subjected to motion issues, which demands the need of regular stretching and exercise.

    The good news is that kettlebell exercises depend on the coordinated rotation of several articulations (e.g., hip, shoulder, elbow), making it the perfect exercise to improve flexibility and reduce injury. Similarly, lifting a barbell or performing complex exercises with dumbbells increases the articular range of motion and decreases the risk of injury.

At the end of the day, the differences between kettlebells and free weights go out the window without proper programming that takes into account an individual’s goals and needs, as well as training variables and availability.

If you haven’t implemented kettlebells into your fitness routine, check out some inspo to get you into the swing of things 😉

CTA Background Image 6