Which One is Better? Kettlebell Row vs. Dumbbell Row

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

A weighted row is a row… what’s the difference between using a dumbbell and a kettlebell?

The answer might surprise you.

In this article, we’ll compare the kettlebell row vs dumbbell row and see which is best for you.

What is the Difference Between the Two Exercises?

Settling the kettlebell row vs. dumbbell row debate is not so easy since it mostly depends on your personal preferences. However, kettlebell rows may be the winner for some people since the kettlebell’s shape forces your lats to work a little harder because of the gravitational pull towards them. This could be better for some people who want to emphasize their lats in their workouts.

Both exercises are very similar and have the same purpose; the main difference is in the shape of the kettlebell and the dumbbell. The dumbbell uses an iron bar with the weight spread evenly, whereas the kettlebell has the weight directly under its handle.

Due to this, the weight of the kettlebell could be pulled up even further than a dumbbell, giving the lats an additional squeeze. However, kettlebells require more balance and strength since the weight is not balanced or centered, making it an overall more laborious exercise for most people.

If you are a newbie at the gym, dumbbell rows may be better suited for you because they provide better balance and weight distribution; using a kettlebell may be hard for some people since they have to learn to keep their balance while using one.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the kettlebell is better than the dumbbell or vice versa. They are both equally beneficial for you and your goals and can be interchangeable between your workouts!

Are Rows Bad for Your Back?

As with any exercise, they are bad for you if you do them with poor form. If you want to do a row the correct way, you have to keep your lower back neutral. If you let it round up, you could squeeze your spinal discs and severely injure yourself.

Doing a row with bad form is not uncommon; many people do it wrong for years, and they don’t even notice! If you want to keep your back safe while working out, whether it’s doing a barbell row, dumbbell row, or kettlebell row, you have to watch out for safety measures before executing the movement.

Another thing that can help you properly execute the exercise is warming up before doing it. When you warm-up, your body temperature rises, and therefore, your joints loosen up, and the blood flow to your muscle is increased. This means that you can get less straining on your tendons and joints. Therefore, don’t forget to warm up before going heavy!

Are Dumbbells Better than Kettlebells?

It depends on what you’re using them for. Both of them excel in different exercises or movements; it depends on your taste and how you want to incorporate both pieces of equipment in your workouts.

Kettlebells are more popular among exercises that require swinging or thrusting, while the dumbbells are more frequently used in a wider variety of exercises. Nonetheless, you can use both of them for the same purposes and still get amazing results!

A positive point for dumbbells is that they usually are more available than kettlebells. Many gyms only provide dumbbells and barbells for your workouts, so if you wanted to use kettlebells, you either have to go to another gym that has them or buy them yourself and use them at home.

You can find kettlebells more frequently in ‘CrossFit’ boxes since their workout regime implies a lot of cardio and strength exercises, for which the kettlebells are a perfect choice.

Why Do Kettlebells Feel Heavier?

You can place a 40lb dumbbell next to a 40lb kettlebell, lift them both, and feel like the kettlebell is heavier! It sounds weird, but it makes sense. This is because of the placement of the weight; as said before, all the kettlebell’s load is placed just below its handle, making the entire gravitational pull go towards one point.

This makes the kettlebell more popular with power and strength exercises since it’s harder to pull up the weight. When you’re using a dumbbell, you are lifting an equal load on both sides of the weight, giving you more balance, and therefore, making the exercise easier.

The fact that the kettlebell feels heavier doesn’t mean that it’s actually heavier, it’s just that the placement of the weight is different.

Will Kettlebells Build Muscle?

Many gym-goers say that kettlebells are only for cardio or strength exercises and that they aren’t suited for building muscle. However, this is a lie. You could lift a heavy rock and build a lot of muscle.

It’s not about the type of weight; it’s about how you use it. Kettlebells can work excellently for building muscle if you do the right exercises and get proper nutrition, just as with dumbbells or barbells.

If we’re talking about kettlebell rows, they can put more load on your back and whole body than dumbbells. If you’re doing dumbbell rows without support, it’s not likely that you can lose balance. However, if you’re doing kettlebell rows without support, your core can activate to help you balance yourself while doing the exercise, giving you added benefits.

Should I Row as Much as I Bench?

It’s not likely that you can row the same weight that you bench. This is because eventually, one lift can take over from the other, meaning that you get stronger at that exercise than the other one.

Also, the exercises performed are different, so it makes the comparison more difficult. When you bench, your body is supported by laying on a bench, so you basically only have to focus on lifting the bar. However, when you do any kind of row, you need to balance yourself to do the exercise correctly and avoid injury, unless you’re supporting yourself on a flat surface, but even then, it’s more challenging to maintain balance.

You might aim for your back and chest to be equally capable in your workouts, but muscular imbalances are way too common, so it may take some time to get both muscle groups evenly strong first.

If you’re debating whether doing a kettlebell row vs a dumbbell row, you could try both to see which one works better for you. However, they are both great exercises to implement in your current routine, and you can switch them up whenever you want!

If You Like This Article, You’ll Like…

Here are some other dumbbell articles that you’ll find value in.

Best dumbbells for a home gym
How to use a dumbbell for chest
How does your dumbbell weight translate to bench?
What dumbbell weight should I start with?
Guide to different dumbbell curls
Dumbbell Rows: What are they?

🏋️ What’s Your Perfect Home Gym? 🏋️

Take our free quiz and in under sixty-seconds, you’ll we’ll recommend the perfect equipment for your home gym. 

🏋️ Completely free to try
🏋️ No email opt-in
🏋️ Get your results instantly

Take The Quiz Now