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Barbell vs Kettlebell

January 20, 2022 5 min read

barbell vs kettlebell

Barbells and kettlebells have been on the strength training scene for decades. If you want to get stronger, lose weight, stay fit, or keep your heart healthy, you may be wondering what the best tools are to do so.

Barbell vs kettlebell: Which one will come out at the top? We will tell you about some exercises with barbells and kettlebells, and their advantages and disadvantages.

You can also find out whether barbells or kettlebells would suit your fitness goals. If you are looking to build muscle, increase speed and improve sports performance, or strengthen your heart – we’ll tell you which is the better option.


dumbbell vs kettlebells

Barbells are 1.2 – 2.1 metre long bars that can be loaded with weight plates on either side. They are held with both hands. 

Weight plates have increments as small as 1kg, and barbells can be loaded with more than 450kg. This makes them useful and versatile. That’s why barbells are a strength-training favourite.

Barbells are used by beginners and Olympic athletes alike. Beginners can tone up and keep fit with lighter barbell weights. Professionals and Olympic weightlifters can muscle up and take it to the next level withthe best Olympic weight set.

What is an Olympic weight set? Olympic plates are larger than standard plates with the same weight. They usually come in the shape of bumper plates and are made of durable rubber. Why? Olympic weightlifting is a category of strength-training movements where the barbell is dropped on the floor afterwards.

Barbell Exercises

Barbells have been on the strength-training scene for decades. Barbell exercises are versatile and straightforward, and their effectiveness is scientifically backed.

You can grab yourbest barbell set for some of these effective moves. They are mostly compound lifts. They include deadlifts, front- and back squats, rack pulls, bench presses, power cleans, snatches, sumo deadlifts, power snatches, and push presses.

Why It’s Great 

  • Training with barbells twice a week for six weeks can result in approximately 10% more muscle gain, compared to training with kettlebells.
  • Barbell weight sets have small size increments, around 1kg. There are unlimited weight variations, with barbells. Weight can be taken off or added throughout your workout.
  • You can easily find out how strong you are with barbells. You can do strength tests like a repetition maximum test with barbells.
  • You can target many muscles at once, and different muscle groups. Some barbell moves target your entire body.  

Who It’s Right for 

  • Barbell exercises are tough on your joints, especially when plates are heavy. Exercises like squats and deadlifts subject your spine to compression. The most common barbell injury is a lumbar injury.
  • Barbells pose some other safety concerns. You can get trapped under your barbell with some exercises, or you can drop weight plates on yourself. Luckily, thebest barbell collars can secure your plates.
  • Rhythmic exercises like snatches and swings are difficult or dangerous to perform with barbells. Kettlebells perform better for these moves.


kettlebell vs dumbbell

Kettlebells are cast-iron weights that are ball-shaped with a handle. Kettlebells come in much lighter weights than barbell weight plates. Typically, kettlebells weigh between five and thirty kilograms.

The unbalanced shape of a kettlebell is what makes it such an effective workout tool. It’s a little bit harder to lift than dumbbells.

When you lift a kettlebell, you must lift its weight and stabilize it. This effectively recruits more muscle groups and makes your move more challenging.

Kettlebell Exercises

The pendulum shape of kettlebells makes it perfect for rhythmic moves like snatches and swings. They can also be used to do high rep exercises. These are called kettlebell ballistics.

Some popular and effective kettlebell exercises are single-arm kettlebell rows, kettlebell swings, kettlebell goblet squats, lunges, figures of eight, Russian twists, Turkish get-ups, incline flyes, kettlebell cleans and presses.

Why It’s Great 

  • Kettlebell ballistics like snatches and swings are easier to perform with kettlebells than with dumbbells or barbells.
  • Kettlebell moves like swings, lunges, and other dynamic exercises can pump up your heart rate as much as regular cardio.
  • Kettlebell exercises can be performed with lower weights and more reps. This leads to increased fat burning.
  • Kettlebells provide constant feedback about the position of your arm, which allows you to perform exercises with more weight.
  • Kettlebells are a good option for those with stiff wrists or little joint flexibility. If you experience wrist pain while front squatting with a barbell, kettlebells are a better option. 

Who It’s Right for 

  • There is potential for poor form with kettlebells, and this leads to injury. If you do kettlebell exercises to failure, you may have poor form when you become tired.
  • Kettlebells do not come in small size increments like barbells. The size of a kettlebell cannot be adjusted.
  • Kettlebells are generally lighter than barbells. If you are into some serious strength training, kettlebells may feel limiting to some moves in your workout regimen.

Barbell or Kettlebell: Which is Better?

kettlebells vs dumbbells

It’s difficult to say which is the better tool between barbells and kettlebells. How you exercise should be guided by your personal fitness goals.

You might be looking to lose weight, build muscle, or get in better shape. You might want to improve your sports performance or get a stronger and healthier heart.

Here’s how barbells and kettlebells compare for different fitness goals.

Building Muscle

To build some serious muscle, you need maximum resistance.

Kettlebells have relatively small loads compared to barbells. Barbells also offer a versatile range of strength exercises.

Barbells come out at the top for strength training, and there is scientific evidence to back them up.

Improving Speed and Sport Performance

If you need to perform fast and explosive movements on the track, basketball court, or soccer field, you can benefit from both barbells and kettlebells.

Ballistic kettlebell moves improve power endurance, which increases your muscles’ ability to repeatedly perform fast and powerful movements.

Olympic style training with barbells is also great for increasing speed. It will allow your body to stop, start, accelerate, and change direction with more force and speed.

Strengthening Your Heart

Ballistic kettlebell moves are dynamic, and they are often high rep and low weight. This is ideal for burning fat, and it counts as cardio.

Barbell exercises are usually high weight and low rep. If you want to avoid injuries, they should not be done at high speeds.

Kettlebells are more effective for cardio and strengthening your heart.

The Bottom Line

Kettlebells use dynamic movements, and some kettlebell moves can double as cardio. Barbells are a favourite for strength training and can be stacked with heavier weights.

Both barbells and kettlebells are great tools for sculpting your body and building strength. You should choose your workout equipment according to your fitness goals and your abilities.

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