Comparing Dumbbell Swings vs Kettlebell Swings

In this post, we are going to cover the similarities and differences of dumbbell swings vs kettlebell swings. A few of the most important points to keep in mind include:

  • Dumbbell swings are usually better for beginners.
  • Kettlebell swings are usually reserved for people who already have a certain level of fitness.
  • Dumbbells are less expensive, easier to find, and easier to hold.
  • Kettlebell swings can hit muscles that you might not otherwise work.
  • Kettlebell swings will also challenge your coordination and center of gravity.

So, let’s take a closer look at both dumbbell swings and kettlebell swings. What do you need to know about each?

How To Do Dumbbell Swings

Dumbbells have been staples in gyms for many years. Therefore, you shouldn’t have a lot of trouble finding a dumbbell to do this exercise. If you would like to perform a dumbbell swing, the steps you need to follow include:

Start by picking up the dumbbell and holding it in the middle. You should place one hand in front of the other.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend your knees and push your hips back.
  • Then, swing the weight between your legs.
  • When the weight is behind you, fire your glutes and thrust your hips forward.
  • Swing the dumbbell back to the level of your chest. Try to avoid using your arms to do this step.
  • Once you reach the top, contract your core to bring the weight back down slowly. You should feel like you are in a plank position.
  • Once you reach the starting point again, you can do another repetition.

As you perform dumbbell swings, try to avoid rounding your lower back. You do not want to use your back muscles for this exercise. Otherwise, you could hurt yourself.

If you perform this exercise properly, it should work your entire body. You should feel your legs, arms, and core contract from start to finish.

You can take a look at a video of someone performing a dumbbell swing here.

How To Do Kettlebell Swings

The basic two-arm kettlebell swing is one of the first kettlebell exercises you should learn. Even though kettlebells have been around for hundreds of years, they have only been showing up in typical gyms recently. Therefore, you might not have a lot of experience using a kettlebell.

If you would like to perform a kettlebell swing, the steps you need to follow include:

  • Play the kettlebell on the floor approximately two ft in front of you.
  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend the knees slightly, reach forward, and pick up the kettlebell with two hands. You should grab the kettlebell on its handle, also called the horn.
  • Then, bring the kettlebell back between your legs in a slow, controlled manner.
  • Once the kettlebell is all the way back, contract your glutes and push your hips forward.
  • As you straighten your back, the kettlebell should rise to the level of your chest. This is a Russian kettlebell swing.
  • Once the kettlebell is at the top, contract your core, arms, and legs. Bring the kettlebell back to its original position slowly.
  • Once you are at the starting position, you can perform another repetition.

All of the power in this exercise should come from your posterior chain. Be careful not to use your back to move the kettlebell too much. You could end up hurting your back.

As you get stronger, you may want to increase the weight of the kettlebell. Or, you may want to try an American kettlebell swing, where you lift the kettlebell all the way over your head.

You can also watch a video of someone performing a kettlebell swing:

The Pros of Dumbbell Swings

There are several advantages to performing dumbbell swings. Some of the biggest advantages include:

  • Dumbbells are often easier to find. They are readily available, inexpensive, and durable.
  • Dumbbells are also much easier to use for beginners. Because dumbbells are usually lighter and easier to control, there is a much lower risk of injury.
  • You will probably find that gripping a dumbbell is a lot easier. The dumbbell is balanced on each side, so it is less likely that you will drop the dumbbell.
  • Dumbbells are also much less expensive than kettlebells. If you are planning on purchasing a set for yourself, dumbbells usually cost less money.

These are a few of the top advantages of using dumbbells for dumbbell swings.

The Pros Of Kettlebell Swings

On the other hand, there are a few advantages to using kettlebells for kettlebell swings as well. Some of the top advantages of using kettlebells for kettlebell swings include:

Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell

  • Kettlebells provide a much better cardio workout. You can perform much more complex exercises, push your muscles harder, and get your heart rate up higher.
  • If you perform a kettlebell swing, the movement will be much more fluid. Therefore, it tends to be easier on the body.
  • You can work muscles with a kettlebell that you may not otherwise hit with a dumbbell. The biggest example is the posterior chain.
  • Unlike dumbbells, you can use kettlebells to increase grip strength. The handles and horns are very thick. Therefore, you’ll have to contract your hand harder to keep the kettlebell in place. This is another way to target a unique set of muscles.
  • Because kettlebells are more challenging to control than dumbbells, you can improve your coordination and balance. Kettlebells will challenge your center of gravity, adding another element to your workout.

These are a few of the biggest advantages of performing kettlebell swings with kettlebells.

Who Should Do Dumbbell Swings?

You should do dumbbell swings if you are a beginner. Because dumbbells are usually lighter and easier to hold, they are ideal for people who are just starting CrossFit. Or, they are good for people who have not exercised regularly in a long time.

In addition, if you think you will have a hard time balancing during the swinging motion, you may want to use dumbbells. Remember that you can always start with dumbbell swings before moving to kettlebell swings.

Who Should Do Kettlebell Swings?

You should do kettlebell swings if you want to improve your endurance, strength, and coordination.

If you want to add more variety to your workouts, then dumbbell swings will be better. Dumbbell swings can also help you improve your balance because they will push your center of gravity.

Finally, if you want to increase your grip strength, then you should perform kettlebell swings.

Choose The Right Exercise Equipment For Your Needs

This is just a brief overview of dumbbell swings and kettlebell swings. Both exercises can be effective in a variety of situations. Even though dumbbell swings are usually reserved for beginners, you can work your way up to kettlebell swings. If you perform these exercises appropriately, you should get a great full-body workout.

Tim Rollins, Editor

About boxletes was created by a team of CrossFit athletes and fitness enthusiasts who love to share information about the best CrossFit boxes, workout gear and equipment, and fitness and nutrition tips.

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