Barbell And Kettlebell Training Comparison

Barbell and kettlebell training – which is better?

People like to have fun comparing a couple of relatively similar things. For example running vs swimming, Pepsi vs Coke, McDonald’s vs Burger King etc. How about having some fun with barbell and kettlebell comparison? Off course, these kind of debates are never going to end and there will not be a definitive victor. At the end of the day it comes to personal preferences, needs, goals, tastes etc. However, having more info on any subject allows you to make a better choice. So let’s compare barbell and kettlebell training.

Barbell and kettlebell training differences and similarities

First of all there are obvious differences in how barbell and kettlebell look like. Barbell is an iron bar where you can put on pretty much unlimited weight. Kettlebell is a “cannon ball” with a comfortable to grip handle attached and normally doesn’t go over 48 kg.
Automatically, the differences described result in distinct effects on your body that you can get by using one or another piece of equipment. On the other hand both, barbell and kettlebell, are simply meant to give resistance to your movements.

Barbell training advantages:

empty barbell

Standard 20 kg olympic barbell

1. As there is virtually no limit on how much weight you can put on a barbell, this is the best weight training equipment for power, strength and muscle size development.
2. If you want to do some serious lifting on compound movements – squats, dead lifts, bench press and rows then barbell is a “must have”.
3. Barbell is the most versatile resistance training equipment. You can lift heavy for ultimate muscle damage and the raise of testosterone levels (the essentials of a serious muscle gain), but also you can keep barbell light and do great muscle endurance workouts (normally used for fat loss).

Kettlebell training advantages:


A range of kettlebells

1. Kettlebell design is great for swinging movements. It allows more mobility.
2. Kettlebell can help working on flexibility as well as muscle endurance and strength.
3. Kettlebell stimulates central nervous system in a specific way due to unconventional range and pace of swinging motions.
4. You can train each body side separately which lets you focus on a movement even more.

Barbell and kettlebell training similarities:

1. Both pieces of weight training equipment are great for muscle endurance training.
2. Both are best suited for compound exercises.
3. Both, barbell and kettlebell, stimulate central nervous system.

So there are differences but also similarities between barbells and kettlebells. Both are great for weight training. However, you have to choose intelligently to make sure the equipment serves your needs and goals.


Rolandas Malinauskas is online personal trainer with 12 years personal training experience in east London and decorated natural bodybuilder – Natural Physique Association (NPA) Mike Williams Classic 2011 Men’s Lightweight Champion, NPA Mike Williams Classic 2011 Men's Overall Vice-champion and NPA British Championship 2011 Men’s Lightweight Vice-champion. Rolandas has been dedicated to natural bodybuilding for over 18 years now. 3 out of 12 years of personal training career Rolandas has been consulting on one of the biggest schemes of Exercise on GP Referral in London (Islington), allowing him to treat lower back, knee pain, cardiovascular problems, arthritis etc.