If you want toned arms, are dumbbells or kettlebells better? They each have their own specific uses and each excel at those specific uses. But when it comes to toned arms, dumbbells are better and below are the reasons they are considered better.

Due to the shape of the dumbbell, it is easier to do isolation exercises that focus the effort on just one group of muscles. For arms, dumbbells are easier to grasp and control through various movements aimed at toning and defining the two major muscles of the arms: triceps and biceps. Take the simple bicep curl for example.

Bicep Curl

Bicep curl using dumbells

With a dumbbell, it is easy to grab it in its middle part and run through the exercise bringing your forearm up to the vertical position. However due to the shape of the kettlebell with the handle directly over the ball of the weight instead of between the two weights, coming to full vertical position is not possible without bending your wrist to an unnatural position. It also increases the risk of a wrist injury.

Also with a dumbbell, you can twist your wrist so the dumbbell comes up in a vertical position instead of horizontal, something you can’t do with a kettlebell. Doing it this way works the bicep differently.

Tricep Kickback

Tricep kickback exercise using dumbbells

Performing this exercise would be much more difficult (alright impossible) using a kettlebell than a dumbbell. The dumbbell is more balanced with the weight at each end of the bar, rather than the all the weight centered directly under the handle.

Kettlebells excel when the desired movement involves swinging the weight as with kettlebell swings, which combines cardio and strength training. And they are also the better choice if developing more grip strength is your goal.

However, kettlebells excel at developing muscles in the shoulders. Most the kettlebell exercises are compound moves that use multiple muscles, not isolation moves targeting just one muscle as do dumbbells. For example, shoulder presses with lateral flexion not only targets the shoulders, but also helps develop the core, hips, with its rotation of the torso to the right and left while holding the kettlebell at shoulder height.

So kettlebells do have their place in a workout routine for developing toned arms, but their main benefit is to develop toned and defined shoulder muscles that support and complement toned arms, as well as helping to develop the lower body muscle groups in the process.

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