I don’t know why this keeps popping up but it does.
Somebody always wants to resurrect this debate and add
their two cents to it.
(Remember, it’s only 2 cents, so take it for what it’s worth.)
I just saw this argument on a forum post recently and I had
to shake my head.
Here’s the deal:
It depends on what your goal is, ok?
Read that again.
What are YOUR goals?
If you are going to compete in powerlifting, then you better
be using a barbell because that’s what powerlifters test
and measure their strength with.
If you’re going to compete in Olympic weightlifting, well, you
better be using a barbell, cause again, that’s what Olympic
lifters do – measure their strength with a barbell.
What about fat loss?
Fat loss is principle driven.
What we’re arguing over here are TOOLS that drive the
What about the Average Joe or Jane?
Well, consider this:
The Average Joe/Jane has sat on his butt at a desk for who
knows how long.
He’s laden with movement compensations and asymmetries.
And that’s not a guess or an assumption.
That’s EVERY person I’ve ever trained over the last 20
And it’s only getting worse.
Here’s the best part – those asymmetries are side-to-side
which means that if you put one implement, like, say a
barbell into both hands, you’re not only looking for
problems, you’re going to find them.
(How you get rid of those asymmetries is a whole ‘nother
topic for another time.)
So, sure, the barbell is cheaper.
It’s easier to add load to it.
And it’s probably easier to get stronger in the short run
using one – depending on how you define strength.
Just add 5, 10, or 25lbs plate to each side.
So then why in the world would you ever consider using
And are they truly “better” than a barbell?
Consider the following:
Kettlebells allow you to train your body contra-laterally
or unilaterally more efficiently than a barbell.
And that’s important because the body works in a
contralateral manner. There are two “sides” to your body –
left and right. (Same with your brain.)
Take a look at walking (the gait pattern) – it’s a contralateral
movement. Left arm, right leg. And vice versa. (And
training these contralateral patterns will help keep you
strong and healthy.)
Kettlebells help you train that much better than a barbell.
Which means that kettlebells can actually keep you
healthier than a barbell.
Some more specifics:
For pressing movements, they optimally align the joints
and recruit more muscles in the correct order.
For lower body movements, you train the subsystems
that are involved in your body’s movement patterns like
walking, using exercises like the 1H Swing.
This beauty is this exercise works the obliques, lats, and
hips in a manner that’s similar to the gait pattern – or
walking – which you cannot [easily] do with a barbell.
Kettlebell training is less technical than barbell training.
I know some would argue and that’s fine. But I’ve been
on both ends – teaching kettlebells and barbells to people
from all walks of life.
The kettlebell snatch is much easier to teach and learn
than the barbell snatch.
(I’ve never gotten injured using KBs, but sure have using
There’s more room for error in the former than the latter.
But I digress…
What I really want to get back to is that whole side-to-side
With the KBs, you can make up for those asymmetries,
and actually close the distance on them – that is, bring
one side close to the other, whether you choose to use
one KB or two.
Because unlike a barbell, when holding your kettlebells
(let’s assume two), you have greater degrees of freedom
than you do with a barbell.
Here’s what I mean:
When you hold a barbell, if you turn your body the bar
tends to move with you. Move one arm, the other automatically
moves cause it’s locked to the bar.
Not so with a pair of kettlebells.
And ultimately, that’s what makes using KBs safer than
And more user-friendly in the long run than a barbell.
And that’s the KEY – The Long Run – Over the course of
Of course, you may not believe me and that’s your right.
But all you have to do is go back to the beginning and read
all the “What The Heck” effect stories from guys who are
seasoned barbell users about how KBs improved their
barbell work or helped them heal from injuries sustained
from barbell work.
The list is long and distinguished.
One of the problems however is that there is not really
a complete resource out there in “kettlebell land” about
how to effectively use your kettlebells in a manner that
will help you get as strong as you want, and show you
how to start getting rid of those asymmetries, let alone
where to find them.
Well, there is one – “Kettlebell STRONG!”.
If you want to learn how to get really, really strong with
a pair of kettlebells – strength for the Long Run – that you
can then apply someday to a barbell, should you choose to
do so, then”Kettlebell STRONG!” will show you how to do