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Kettlebells can offer many benefits but you may want other options. What are some alternatives to kettlebells with similar benefits?
A kettlebell is a metal ball with a handle on top, usually made of cast iron or cast steel. You can use this piece of exercise equipment to modify regular exercises like squats or to do specific kettlebell exercises.
Some of the kettlebell benefits include being able to strengthen muscles at home or in the gym, having mobility that other free weights don’t allow, having a relatively compact piece of fitness equipment, etc.
Whether you don’t enjoy using kettlebells, you want a cheaper alternative, or you want an alternative for any other reason, these kettlebell alternatives can help you train similar areas of your health.
Keep in mind that implementing these alternatives can offer benefits but like while using any exercise equipment, there is always some risk of injury. Make sure you use these equipment options in a safe way and if needed, get guidance from an expert.
1. Household objects
Kettlebells are a great fitness equipment option but you may have some alternative objects at home that can be used in similar ways.
The first example that most people have available is a backpack. You can fill this backpack up with other objects like books, canned goods, and basically anything else you can find. A downside is that it is harder to keep track of progress since you generally don’t know exactly how much resistance you are using.
The next example is a milk jug or bag of foods like for example potatoes. You can use them but you do have to keep in mind that they are generally not very comfortable and it may be hard to add a lot of weight.
Lastly, there are things like a towel, rope,… basically rope-like objects that don’t stretch out. With these, you can do certain kettlebell exercises in an isometric, more static, way. Isometric exercises are generally less effective than the isotonic exercises you can do with kettlebells.
2. Workout sandbags
There are workout sandbags that can be used as a fitness equipment alternative to kettlebells. Similar to kettlebells, sandbags can be used to make a wide variety of exercises harder.
The weight distribution and feel of sandbags are different from a regular kettlebell. This can be both an advantage or disadvantage depending on your personal preference.
For some exercises like the kettlebell swing, a small sandbag can actually be a relatively good replacement.
Where sandbags do offer benefits over regular kettlebells is that they can both be put on your shoulders and used as a single-handed free weight.
This can be especially helpful for leg exercises where you need a lot of weight to make the exercise a challenge. Workout sandbags also often require a lower investment.
A downside is that sandbags do often not offer the exact same mobility and compactness as kettlebells. For certain body parts like biceps and triceps, this can hinder optimal training. While sandbags should last a long time, this is not quite at the same level as kettlebells.
A dumbbell is a type of fitness equipment that is basically a handle with a weight on each side. This is an alternative to kettlebells that you can use in a very similar way.
In certain cases like the Zottman curl where you twist your wrists, dumbbells can be even more effective than kettlebells. Even so, these types of exercises are generally not that common.
In certain ab exercises and kettlebell exercises, you do generally want to use kettlebells if that is an option. Similarly, these types of exercises are also the minority. Even for something like kettlebell swings you could use a dumbbell as an alternative.
Some benefits of dumbbells include that they also last a very long time without much reduction in value. Even after using them many times, dumbbells will have a very similar sturdiness and strength.
A potential disadvantage is that similar to kettlebells, dumbbells often require a slightly bigger investment. That being said, they are still relatively low in price compared to for example an exercise bike.
4. Resistance bands
Resistance bands are an inexpensive type of fitness equipment that are basically elastic cords. They can be used for a variety of exercises, even more than kettlebells.
This is because you can loop resistance bands around your legs and because you are not limited to using the usual direction of gravity for resistance.
Some of the other benefits of resistance bands are that they are relatively inexpensive, easy to store, and very portable.
One downside is that resistance bands are not the type of gym equipment you can use for the rest of your life. At least every few years you will need to replace the last set with new resistance bands to build muscle.
Certain exercises will also benefit from anchoring your resistance bands somewhere. Sometimes you can attach them to objects that are already around the house. Even so, it is likely safer to get an inexpensive resistance band anchor to avoid any problems.
5. Cable machine
The cable machine is a type of gym machine where a steel frame holds weights and pulleys. Thanks to the cable going through these pulleys and attached to these weights you can do many types of strength training exercises for a wide variety of muscles.
Similar to resistance bands there are even more exercise options compared to kettlebells because of all the different angles you can use.
The main downside if you plan to get one for your home gym is that it can be a relatively big investment that requires a relatively large amount of storage space.
6. Barbell setup
A barbell is a long steel bar you can put weight plates on. They are not the perfect alternative to kettlebells since you don’t have the same mobility as one-handed free weights. This makes it so good exercises for certain body parts like your posterior deltoids are not really an option.
However, for certain types of leg exercises like squats, barbells can be even more useful than kettlebells. This is because the barbell allows you to load the weight on your shoulders instead of your hands. For most people, this allows heavier lifts.
Similar to kettlebells, a barbell and weight plates often last a very long time without really losing their value.
In turn, a barbell set does require a relatively high initial investment. Especially if you get an accompanying barbell rack which will certainly be helpful.
7. Exercise ball
An exercise ball, also known as a stability or yoga ball, is a soft elastic ball.
A popular kettlebell exercise is that kettlebell swing to train muscles like hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. You can target these muscles with something like an exercise ball back extension too.
Besides a few specific muscles like these, the exercise ball is more an alternative to kettlebells that offer different workout options. For fitness goals like balance, flexibility, and making plank variations harder, the exercise ball will generally be more useful than kettlebells.
Another thing to note is that an exercise ball is a lot cheaper compared to kettlebells.
One of the downsides of the exercise ball is that it won’t last as long as kettlebells. The exercise ball will also not benefit that many strength training exercises.