As you go about getting together your muscle building workout program, one question that you may ask yourself is which is best for progress: dumbbells vs barbells.
There are many arguments in the dumbbell vs barbell debate and you’ll always hear points raised on both sides. But, the key is looking at what is most important to you and then applying this to your individual program.
Both types of equipment will definitely provide great results but by looking at the advantages each has to offer, you can more clearly see which is in line with the priorities that you have set for yourself.
Let’s take a closer look into the barbell vs dumbbell issue so you can get it straight which is for you.
The very first thing to look at is the advantages to using dumbbells.
The first clear advantage here is that these are great for home workouts.
If you plan to perform your muscle building workout in the comfort of your own home, it’s vital that you find equipment that is cost effective and easy to store.
Dumbbells fit the bill perfectly. While you could definitely get a barbell if you have more room, the added plate weight can increase the total costs.
An adjustable set of dumbbells is a much more inexpensive option in most instances.
The next pro in the dumbbells vs barbells debate for the dumbbell side is that it’s better for dealing with muscular imbalances.
For instance, when looking at dumbbell press vs bench press, if one side of the body is stronger than the other, it would become very obvious when using dumbbells compared to if you were using a barbell.
When doing a standard barbell bench press you could start to overcompensate for the weaker arm with the stronger arm, not realizing that this imbalance is actually occurring.
By using the dumbbells you’ll be aware of the issue and then you can go about bringing up the strength level in the weaker side by doing some single arm presses as well if you wish.
This brings us to our next pro which is the ability to perform single limb movements. With a barbell both arms will always have to be involved in the lift, but with dumbbells you can work one side at a time.
For instance you can do one arm bicep curls (concentration curls), one arm lateral or front raises, single arm rows, as well as single arm presses or overhead presses.
When doing single arm movements like this you will work your core more for stabilization purposes, so it can be a great way to add extra challenge to your workout session.
Now let’s look at some of the main advantages that come into play on the barbell side.
Adding barbells into your workout program will also bring another set of advantages to consider. First, most people will naturally find that they’re a lot stronger when using a barbell.
For example, going back to our dumbbell bench press vs barbell press debate above, while the dumbbell press will allow you to pinpoint muscle imbalances, the barbell press will typically allow you to lift more weight.
You won’t have as much of a stabilization factor to worry about with a barbell as you would with dumbbells, so this means more of your force output can be directed towards pressing up a maximum amount of weight.
If your goal is to get as strong as you possibly can, this is going to make for a good argument to go the barbell route.
The second advantage to using barbells is when it comes to lower body training.
It would be very difficult to lift up two dumbbells on top of the shoulders with enough weight in order to perform squats that actually challenge your leg muscles, so in this instance, a barbell will be a must. Using a barbell on a squat rack you’ll be able to load up very high levels of plate weight so that your lower body development isn’t limited by you upper body growth.
Another nice thing about using barbells to keep in mind if you are someone who does have higher strength levels and uses a wide range of weight is that it’s easier to load up weight on barbells than dumbbells.
With dumbbells you’ll only have so much room on either end where you can place the additional plate weight until you run out.
Most people won’t be placing 25 pound plates on dumbbells as it would make for a very awkward range of motion when executing an exercise, so this means you’ll have to go to barbells instead.
If you’re doing a deadlift with 300 pounds or more, as some very strong males will be doing, you just won’t load up that degree of weight onto a set of dumbbells.
Some gyms will go up to the 100 pound dumbbell ranges, but many won’t and then you’ll be limited in how much progress you can make.
So as you can see, both dumbbells and barbells definitely do have their advantages. Most people will choose to use a mix of both pieces of equipment with their workout plan to get the best of both worlds.
One thing that you should definitely consider as you go about your workout though is swapping between the pieces of equipment for certain exercises where you rely on just one.
For example, it’s ‘classic’ to perform bench press always with a barbell and then move to dumbbells for incline press.
Try switching it up. Use dumbbells for your bench press for a while and use a barbell for incline press.
Or for shoulder press, most people will typically use dumbbells but consider a barbell once in a while instead.
Changing it up will help to prevent a plateau on these lifts so that you can keep progressing with your workout program. Most people incorporate both pieces of equipment instead by doing bench press with a barbell and curls with a dumbbell set, but interchange them once in a while as well.
That will bring about better results.
So keep all these points in mind when thinking about dumbbells vs barbells. Using both pieces of equipment is what will yield maximum muscle building results.
For more help putting together your very own workout to help advance your muscle building results, please see the No-Nonsense Muscle Building Program.
You’ll get complete workout guidance so you can get right on track to building the body of your dreams.
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