By Jason C. Brown
One of the most common questions I receive is “What’s the difference between and kettlebell and a dumbbell?” Quickly behind that question follows “Will kettlebell training carry-over into my activities of daily living more than training with dumbbells?” This is a hard topic to demonstrate via written word so I thought a short video would work best but I’ll give you quick low-down here as well.
There is a distinct mechanical difference between a kettlebell and a dumbbell and it’s based on law of levers.
Kettlebell possess something known as an Extended Moment Arm of Resistance. This simply means that the kettlebell’s center of gravity is outside your grip or palm. Dumbbells do not possess this and have a center of gravity that is fixed or static, always within your grip or palm. A shorter Moment Arm of Resistance makes a movement easier; choking up on a baseball bat is a great example of creating a shorter Moment Arm of Resistance. So technically a dumbbell swing should be easier than a kettlebell swing.
Kettlebells also possess a Variable Moment Arm of Resistance. This simply means that the center of gravity is in motion or dynamic during an exercise. For example, during the kettlebell snatch the kettlebell will be extended away from your palm, resting on the backside of your wrist and somewhere in between on each repetition. Dumbbells do not have this feature.
Most objects that you deal with in everyday life have both an Extended Moment Arm of Resistance and a Variable Moment Arm of Resistance. Suitcases, backpacks, children, grocery bags, and six packs all share a center of gravity that lies outside your grip…just like a kettlebell. I hate to say this word but that makes kettlebell training much more “Functional.” Make sense?