If there is one thing which many people mistakenly do in gyms around the world, it is buying in to the false belief that one way of training is the best over any other method. This is particularly true with the two mentioned above. Many people are either on one side of the fence or the other. Optimal results can be achieved by combining these methods with lesser known techniques, such as yoga, suspension trainers and body weight exercises.
However, a recent study pitted the kettlebell against free weights in a study to determine which method would return the greatest strength gains overall. The results were quite profound.
The study followed a protocol where Group A would be using a 16 kilogram weight to perform a six week program of swings, accelerated swings and goblet squats in an attempt to boost vertical leap, power clean and squat strength levels.
Group B, on the other hand, were made to follow a six week program using roughly 80% of their one repetition maximum on squat, power clean and high pulls using a barbell.
The results clearly showed that the free weight group enjoyed much greater gains in strength than the kettlebell group. First of all, the barbell/dumbbell group noticed a massive increase in their squat strength of 15%, as well as an increase in power clean strength of 10% and a vertical leap boost of 4%.
The kettlebell group lagged behind with only a 4% power clean boost and 1% vertical leap improvement. Given that this piece of kit is well known for it’s explosiveness, a mere 1% boost to vertical leap strength was surprisingly low in comparison to what could be achieved through free weights.
So if the results of this study from California State University, Fullerton are to be used as evidence in ending this popular argument then free weights certainly won the war hands down.
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.
So, who wins the battle of kettlebells vs dumbbells? If the latest scientific research is to be used as a barometer to end the argument then you have to jump on the side of free weights.
Are Barbells And Dumbbells Superior To Kettlebells?