Medicine Balls and Kettlebells are two of the most popular and versatile pieces of equipment used in fitness and strength training.
Medicine Balls, also known as Wall Balls or Slam Balls, is a weighted ball made of rubber or soft material that comes in a range of weights and sizes. They are often used for explosive exercises, plyometrics, and functional movements. A kettlebell, on the other hand, is a cast iron weight shaped like a cannonball with a handle on top, used for strength training, cardio, and mobility exercises.
The purpose of this article is to provide an in-depth comparison of Medicine Balls and Kettlebells. I’m going to do my best to highlight the key differences between the two types of equipment, as well as the pros and cons of each. Hopefully, in a few minutes, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about which option is best suited for you.
Medicine Balls & Kettlebells: Key Differences
The most obvious difference between the two is their physical differences. Medicine Balls and Kettlebells couldn’t look much different. Medicine Balls are large, relatively soft, weighted round balls. Kettlebells are basically a piece of cast iron steel with a steel handle on it.
Pro Tip: Not all Medicine Balls are the same. Some are built very differently and have very different characteristics. (More info on Wall Balls vs Slam Balls.)
Because of both the materials used to make them and the functions they’re used for, the durability of Medicine Balls and Kettlebells are much different.
Medicine Balls are typically used for throws, tosses and slams. Depending on the quality of the ball and the type of training you do with it, a medicine ball will typically last from as little as a year up to 8 to 10 years.
Kettlebells on the other hand are made of cast iron that are definitely not meant to be thrown (outside the occasional drop). Kettlebells can last you… pretty much forever.
The final difference between Medicine Balls and Kettlebells is the types of exercises and movements they are used for.
Medicine balls are often used in explosive, dynamic movements (going in all directions), such as slams and throws, and are a great choice for cardio and HIIT workouts.
Kettlebells are also used in explosive, dynamic movements like Kettlebell Swings and Snatches. Depending upon their size, they can also be used in strength-building exercises as well like Deadlifts and Rows.
READ MORE —> How Much Do Kettlebells Weigh?
Medicine Ball Pros
Some Pros of working out with a Medicine Ball include:
Medicine balls can be used in a variety of exercises, including strength training, cardio, and balance exercises. They can be used for upper body exercises, such as chest passes and overhead slams, as well as lower body exercises, such as squat and lunge variations.
This versatility allows for a full-body workout using just one piece of equipment.
Medicine balls are often used in dynamic, multi-planar movements, which can challenge balance and coordination. This is an advantage that Medicine Balls have over more traditional equipment like barbells and kettlebells.
Medicine ball exercises can be incorporated into high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, which have been shown to be effective in improving cardiovascular fitness and burning calories. The dynamic, explosive movements involved in medicine ball exercises make them a great choice for HIIT workouts.
Medicine balls can be a fun and engaging way to workout, especially when used with a partner. Throwing and catching the ball with a partner can add a new challenge to your workouts.
Additionally, the variety of exercises that can be done with a medicine ball can help prevent boredom and keep workouts fresh and exciting.
RELATED –> Sold on a Medicine Ball now? Check out my favorite Medicine Balls for a Home Gym.
Medicine Ball Cons
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows with Medicine Balls. They do have their limitations.
One of the main disadvantages of medicine ball training is the limited weight options available. Medicine balls typically come in lighter weights, making them unsuitable for advanced strength training. This can limit the progress of those looking to increase their strength and power.
Some medicine ball exercises, such as chest passes and side throws, require a partner (or at least a solid wall) to be effective. This can be a challenge for those who prefer to work out alone and/or don’t have a wall they feel comfortable throwing a med ball into.
Kettlebells can provide multiple benefits to your strength training:
Training with a kettlebell is a full-body workout that targets multiple muscle groups at once.
Exercises such as the Kettlebell Swings and Goblet Squat work the legs, hips, back, and arms, while kettlebell Turkish Get-Ups engage the core, hips, and shoulders. This makes kettlebell training an efficient and effective way to improve overall fitness and strength.
Another advantage of kettlebell training is the improved grip strength that it can provide. The handle on top of the kettlebell allows for a variety of grip positions, making it a great tool for strengthening the hands, forearms, and wrists. This is particularly beneficial for athletes who need to maintain a strong grip in their sport.
Kettlebell training is known for its high-intensity workouts that can improve endurance and stamina. The dynamic, full-body movements involved in kettlebell exercises can increase heart rate and cardiovascular endurance, making it a great choice for those looking to improve their conditioning.
Kettlebells aren’t perfect either. They also have their limitations:
One of the main disadvantages of kettlebell training is the risk of injury from improper form.
Kettlebell exercises, such as swings and snatches, require a high level of coordination and control, and if performed with poor form, can lead to injury. It is important to seek out proper instruction and training from a qualified instructor to minimize the risk of injury.
Kettlebell training is limited to certain types of exercises, such as swings, snatches, and Turkish get-ups, making it less versatile than other forms of training. This can limit the progress of those looking for a more comprehensive workout program.
Which Should You Buy? Medicine Ball or Kettlebell?
Now that I’ve gone through the differences and all the pros and cons, hopefully, you should now know which piece of equipment is best for you.
There is no right or wrong answer here. Both Medicine Balls and Kettlebells have their pros and cons and neither is inherently better than the other. It really just comes down to which fits better for you and how you like to workout (and maybe you’ve now even decided to get both).
Finally, don’t stress about not having one or the other because there are always alternatives for any exercise if you’re missing a piece of equipment.
For example, here is a whole list of alternatives for two of the most popular exercises for a Medicine Ball and a Kettlebell:
No matter what exercise it is, there are always substitutions you can make. So, whether you go ball or bell, get whichever one you think you’re going to enjoy having more.