Exercise equipment is evolving and changing all the time. While the kettlebell has been around for a long time, its use and popularity has accelerated over the last decade.
Why has it increased its popularity and how is it different from a dumbbell?
Kettlebells have a different shape and more importantly a unique weight distribution. Dumbbells have an easy grip bar and an evenly distributed weight on either side of this grip. This allows us to lift dumbbells without additional stress on our grip strength. As a result we can often lift a larger weighted dumbbell as it is suited to our mechanics.
In contrast the weight of the kettlebell is concentrated in the bell which is below the handle. This allows the user to modify the position of the bell and thereby change the grip requirements of the task. The bell can either be rested against the forearm for an easier grip option, or the bell can be held upright which challenges the grip muscles substantially.
How is this useful?
It is particularly useful when it comes to strengthening and stabilising the shoulder muscles. The greater the demands on our grip, the stronger the contraction of the shoulder muscles. In addition the unstable load, when the bell is held upright, increases the demands of the sensory nerves around the shoulder as they move the arm to maintain the balance of the bell.
It is important to remember that the different exercise equipment are merely tools that help us to move better. Fundamentally exercise should be an opportunity to move often and to move well. All of the different tools have their unique characteristics which help to promote safe and efficient movement.