Which is better for beginners, barbells or dumbbells/kettlebells? On one hand, barbells will allow me to put up more weight. On the other, dumbbells and unilateral movements will allow for more symetrical growth. Strength is my primary concern, but equal growth would be good as well. Any thoughts?
Barbells and dumbbells. With some cable work, and maybe a few select machines. Leave kettlebells alone for the first few months - no need to confuse yourself with learning how to use them just yet. Plus, since strength is your "primary concern", kettlebells have little to offer in terms of building basic strength.
True enough, which is why I said you should use basic free weights (that means barbells and dumbbells) for the majority of your lifts. A barbell exercise won't exactly develop you into a lop-sided mutant, though.
The majority of people have one side of the body noticeably stronger and/or bigger than the other. It's nothing to stress out over unless you have a significant medical issue to address.
If you're brand new to training, almost anything you do will get your entire body stronger. Just be consistent with it and use a smart, well-designed program.
Your lucky to even have the option...no kettlebells to be found in my gym. ive been lifting for a year and i still have not got to use k-bells
id recommend the majority is done with barbells, the extra weight will tax the dominant 'big mass' muscles more.
dumbbells are great for bringing up weaknesses and stabilizing muscles but for the beginner its all weakness for a while at least.