Parag Mhetre

Which of the two wins the test of strength?
Dumbbell Press Vs Kettlebell Press

January, 2017
The Master Responds

This is a very important question, asked often in my seminars all over India, and my straight forward answer before explaining the importance or their significant use in strength training is: both lifts are different and are not quite comparable.

The Kettlebell Press of course has distinctive advantages and better usage, and is technically discussed in the article below.

But let’s first understand the dumbbell press which will allow me to better explain the Kettlebell press.

The Dumbbell press starts by keeping the humerus bone parallel to the ground. The main muscle targeted by the dumbbell press is the anterior deltoid, including the lateral deltoid, or the outside of your shoulder, and posterior deltoid, or the back of your shoulder & the triceps. We are primarily also talking about hypertrophy (increase of muscle cell size).

Performing the shoulder press requires other muscles to help you stabilize. Your trapezius, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and other back muscles also offer assistance throughout the movement.

On the other hand the Kettlebell press starts with ‘the clean’, meaning you rack the bell on iliac crest before it is pushed overhead. The muscles involved obviously are more as compared to dumbbell press which isa short single static movement. In Kettlebell press the muscles involved are Internal/External Obliques, Middle/Lower Trapezius, Rhomboids, Biceps, Medial Deltoid & Triceps.

If we compare and understand the basics, then definitely shoulder press done with dumbbells would be the preference for muscle hypertrophy. In dumbbell press the position of shoulder abduction and external rotation places a great amount of strain on the entire shoulder complex; hence pec major rupture occurs more often with heavy weight loading.This can be countered by taking precautions while lifting the weight.

In Kettlebell press, as the cannon ball is offset and not in-line with muscle fibers (like in the dumbbell press), we are mostly referring the movement done as being functional or natural.


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