This approach pretty much rules out the barbell as a start up piece of equipment. The barbell requires lots of space, additional equipment ( i.e benches and/or racks ), good exercise knowledge and can take up valuable time changing weights for each exercise.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the barbell is a great piece of equipment and essential for some forms of training but it is not as versatile as the Dumbbell or the Kettlebell.
One thing to consider when choosing which one to purchase is “How stable are you?” especially in the shoulders.
Both dumbbells and kettlebells require reasonable shoulder stability to use effectively, especially when doing overhead and/or pushing movements. Being able to control the direction of movement as well as the range of movement is important and should be a major consideration.
If you are more stable, then the dumbbell is a good choice as being the least supportive of the two options will help you strengthen those stabilisers even more. The split loading of the weight makes lateral movement away from your centre line more challenging. If you struggle with stability then the Kettlebell is better as the load is centralised and easier to control.
Another question to ask yourself is “Am I doing dynamic movements?
For example, swinging, rotating and explosive power lifting type movements. If you are then the kettlebell is more suited to this type of movement. The smooth grip allows for the bell to rotate in your hand during the action and the single weight focus keeps the load where you want it.
Kettlebells generally come in weight increments of 4kg although some manufacturers are introducing an increased range, whereas Dumbbells range in weight from 1kg upwards and offer 1kg and even 1/2kg options e.g 1.5kg, 12.5kg etc. This allows you to progress at a more reasonable rate rather than trying to make big jumps in weight when you are ready to lift heavier.
Overall, there is little difference between the two for the average home user but the kettlebell can be more technical. You can adapt most exercises to suit both pieces of equipment although one may be more suited to somethings and the other to something else. I prefer kettlebells for heavier work (more stable) and dumbbells for press type exercises and when I want to force my stabilisers to work harder.
Aesthetically the kettlebell is more impressive but looks aren’t that important when it comes to strength equipment, functionality is better.
If you can’t decide between the two then book a session with a trainer and try them both out through a range of exercises before you buy. This will also have the added bonus of showing you a few exercise options that you may not have thought of or were not aware of.
As always consult your health professional before commencing any exercise programme and even better, contact your local personal trainer for exercise advice and assistance. We are here to help your health and fitness journey and keep you injury free.