Kettlebell squats vs. barbell squats: Which is Better?

Squats are like other compound exercises as they have different variations depending on your preferences and physical characteristics. These squat variations include kettlebell squats, barbell squats, trap bar squats, and bodyweight squats, among others. This …

Squats are like other compound exercises as they have different variations depending on your preferences and physical characteristics. These squat variations include kettlebell squats, barbell squats, trap bar squats, and bodyweight squats, among others. This article will discuss the kettlebell and barbell squats and help you determine which of the squats you are better suited to perform best.

đź“– Related Article: If you're enjoying this article you may want to also check out: The Best Open Trap Bars for Your Home Gym

Kettlebell squats

Kettlebell squats are squats that you do with kettlebells. They are cast iron weights with a weighted and round bottom and a grip handle at the top. Many gymgoers use kettlebells to build their athletic and explosive movements. Aside from squats, you can also use kettlebells like the Rogue Kettlebell to perform different exercises. They include lunges, kettlebell curls, and many more.  Nevertheless, here are some of the pros and cons of using kettlebells for your squats: : 

Kettlebell squats pros

Improves functional strength

Because of their shape, kettlebells can improve your functional strength as you grip them for your squats. Because of this, kettlebells’ cannonball-like shape can help you with your daily activities. 

Kettlebells, as against other weights, have an unbalanced design; its handle is less heavy than the ball. This makes kettlebells a bit unstable. This instability mimics the same instability that everyday objects that you carry have.

Generally safe 

Kettlebell squats are relatively safe because you do not carry the weights above you; you pull them with your hands. Carrying the weights with your hand lets you easily drop the bells if caught in the middle of a failed rep. As an extension, you do not need a spotter or a squat rack for kettlebells; you can pick it off and drop it. 

đź’ˇ Quick Tip: If you are starting your weightlifting career and are prone to dropping the weights a little too much, we recommend the Rogue crash mat to help you protect your floors from the impacts of the weights.

Versatility

While barbells are definitely flexible, kettlebells are even more flexible and easy to use. Because of their small, round, and compact shape, they are also easy to transport, and you can easily carry them to a new location. As a result, you can perform kettlebell squats almost anywhere with minimal space. 

Easy on your back

Kettlebell squats are also easier on your back because you pull them with your hands rather than on your back. This spreads the weight across your body instead of on your back. Because of this, you are less likely to put too much stress on your back, leading to fewer back aches or other back injuries. Nevertheless, you can add the Powerlifting lever belt to your gym accessories to keep your stomach and back more solid and robust when deadlifting.

Kettlebell squats cons  

Not optimal for lifting heavy

Kettlebells are not as heavy as other weights, and you can also not load them with more weights. As a result, you are limited to the weights of the bells you purchase. This means you cannot squat as heavy as you may like with kettlebells as there is a limit to the weight kettlebells come in. However, Kettlebells are fine if you are a beginner weightlifter or you want to work on your form. 

Barbell squats

Barbell squats are one of the most popular powerlifting exercises for the lower body. It involves loading the barbell with the weight plates you want and then squatting with the weight on your upper back. Because of the exercise’s difficulty, you require a squat or power rack to safely and optimally perform it, and I recommend the SML-1 rogue 70″ monster lite squat stand.

Barbell squats pros

Needs no grip strength

One of the pros of squatting is that you do not need to worry about grip as the weight rests on your back and shoulders. As a result, you are more guaranteed optimal gains from squats with or without an excellent grip. This helps you with highly developed quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves, as you can do heavier workouts without worrying about your grip. 

Optimal for heavy lifting

Barbells are more optimal for muscle building as you can carry more weight with them. More so, barbells are loadable, so you can load light weight plates and very heavy ones, depending on your goals. As a result, if you are looking to squat heavy to build up your lower body, squats are very preferable. 

đź’ˇ Quick Tip: If you are a weightlifting beginner, it is advisable to use machines rather than free weights because it helps you with several aspects of the lift, including balance and proper form. Try the Leverage squat machine to help you develop your legs without worrying about your balance and posture.

Leverage squat machine

Barbell squats cons

Risk of back injury

While squats may be a powerlifting workout and great for building strength, it puts a lot of stress on your back, especially if you do not do them correctly. Because the weight rests on your upper back, the exercise may be more challenging if you do not use and maintain proper form.

Reduced versatility

You need a squat rack to squat with barbells, which reduces the exercise's flexibility. Because of the rack, you need more space to squat with barbells in your apartment. Likewise, transporting the equipment becomes more difficult as you may require a specific moving vehicle to transport the barbell and rack. 

đź“– Related Article: If you're enjoying this article you may want to also check out: The Best Workouts You Can Do With a Squat Rack

Which is better? kettlebell or barbell squats

As you may have guessed, there is no inherently better way to squat with either kettlebells or barbells. The better squatting type for you depends on your preferences. 

For example, if you are a beginner weightlifter, do not have enough space to perform your exercises, or are recovering from or trying to prevent a back injury, then the kettlebell squat is suitable for you your needs as it ticks all your checkboxes. However, if you are looking to bulk up quickly and have access to space for your squat rack, the barbell squat may be your best bet.