Someone who obviously loves the barbell asked me the other day what’s the point of working with dumbbells? I gave them a quick answer but it got me thinking what are the benefits of each. So I did a little research and here is what I found.
Dumbbells can allow for more natural movement. With dumbbells you are able to move each side individually which means your body is not forced in a fixed position. This allows for a deeper stretch, think full range of motion, and allows your body to make the adjustments it needs to keep the movement injury free and comfortable.
Barbell progression can be faster and easier. By gradually increasing the amount of stress placed on the body we are able to make gains in muscle size, strength and endurance. Barbells allow this progression to happen faster by using smaller increments. Lifting heavier is also allowed, as we don’t have to worry about stabilizing the weight. We are using 2 hands to move one weight, instead of two.
Dumbbells can sometimes be easier to use. Like in the case of single leg exercises like split squats and lunges where balance is often the biggest issue. Dumbbells also have an advantage in a no spotter situation or when you don’t quite know your limits.
Barbells are safer when the weight gets heavy. This is especially true with exercises that start from a rack. When using dumbbells it can be quite challenging to get the DB from the floor to the shoulders to start your first rep. When lifting heavy, we can’t afford to make mistakes otherwise we will end up injured.
Dumbbells can help improve muscle imbalances. Dumbbells force you to use both sides equally. With a barbell it’s not uncommon that your dominant side will take over moving the weight through space without you realizing it.
So which is best for you?
Both barbells and dumbbells have their PROS and CONS. By always avoiding one in favor of the other means you are missing out on the one set of positives. So mix it up. Both are ideal for building muscle and strength and they are BOTH required in helping you get the results you are looking for.
Before CPM, dumbbells were my go to. I used to be intimated with barbell exercises (except for back squat 😉) but after lots of practice I have grown to love them. Watching my body transform has been rewarding but it’s more than just the physical gains for me, it’s the feeling you get mentally and emotionally from taking care of your body.
A. EMOTM 12
3 Power Snatch
B: 4-Rounds for Time:
15 Burpees over bar
12 Front Rack Lunges