Do You Burn More Calories Working Out With Kettlebells or Dumbbells?

Dumbbells won't steer you wrong, but kettlebells will get you further, faster.

Dumbbells won't steer you wrong, but kettlebells will get you further, faster.

You are not one to have countless hours to fiddle away at the gym. Your weight-training sessions need to bring bang with their sculpt, in terms of shelling out the most impressive results in the least amount of time. Problem solved. Generally speaking, go kettlebells. They will work your body harder than dumbbells and yield more powerful results in a shorter time frame. Work the burn -- then get back to all the other things you have going on in your busy life.

Kettlebell Vs. Dumbbell

The biggest difference between typical kettlebell and dumbbell workouts is that the former stresses higher density/volume workouts, shorter rest intervals and complex compound movements using total body patterns that put a substantial amount of muscle mass to work, says certified personal trainer Jason Stella of Lifetime Fitness. Whereas typical dumbbell workouts involve longer rest intervals and more isolated movements including the bicep curl or bench press. An American Council on Exercise study found kettlebells offered a higher-intensity workout than standard weight training -- including dumbbell lifting -- and provided superior results faster. Study participants who did quick kettlebell lifts overhead, or snatches, in 20-minute windows burned as many calories as they would have cross-country skiing uphill at a fast pace or running a speedy six-minute mile.

Calories Burned

There is no cut-and-dry number or formula to figure out how many calories are being burned. This depends on variables such as weight and age. According to one Harvard Health Publications chart, 30 minutes of general circuit training will burn 240 calories if you weigh 125 pounds, 298 if you weigh 155 pounds and 355 if you weigh 185 pounds.

Other Variables

The amount of calories you burn depends on other factors as well, says Stella, including the amount of muscle mass involved and exercise selection, the time under tension, the total time the muscles stay contracted without rest, the density and volume of the exercises and the total reps multiplied by the load and intensity in a given workout period.

Best Option

If your sole objective is burning calories and you are choosing between kettlebells or dumbbells for weight training, go for the kettlebell. You will get the most benefits in the least amount of time. Just make you have a trainer or fitness pro demonstrate how to correctly do kettlebell exercises, and if you are a beginner, consider starting off with a weightless bell to get your body used to this new, intense and advanced type of movement.

 

About the Author

Julie D. Andrews is a writer and editor living in New York City. Her articles have appeared in print or on the websites of "Prevention," "Glamour," "Fitness," "Shape," "Cosmopolitan Latina," "Elle" and "New York Magazine."

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