Which is best, dumbbells or barbells for building muscle and losing fat? Are dumbbells good for weight loss and for muscle gain? Find out which one is best for mass, strength, size, and fat loss. DON’T MESS THIS UP!!!
Dumbbells versus Barbells. Which is better for building muscle, how about for burning fat?
Both dumbbells and barbells have been around for a long time and both are irreplaceable pieces of equipment. But is one better than the other?
Let’s compare the pros and cons starting withing barbells.
With a barbell you get to use both arms on one bar allowing you to lift heavier weight.
Stabilization is typically made easier with barbell exercises, so not as much effort has to be dedicated to stabilizing the bar and more effort can be directed to lift a heavier load.
Another huge advantage of using a barbell is you can rest it in places where you could never rest dumbbells.
For example: With a barbell squat you can rest the weight on your upper traps allowing you to do much more weight then a weighted dumbbell squat.
Actually with a weighted dumbbell squat you probably would exhaust your grip strength before you came anywhere close to exhausting your leg strength.
Barbells are also much more efficient for people looking to develop explosive power with exercises like clean and presses, power cleans, and deadlifts.
Barbells are also believed to help build more mass with exercises like barbell bicep curls over dumbbell bicep curls.
This is probably due to the fact that you can grab more weight when using two arms with a barbell bicep curl.
So it seems for sure that for strength and power barbells wins, but what exactly do dumbbells bring to the table?
Well dumbbells are far better than barbells at training your stabilizer muscles and improving your coordination.
In many exercises dumbbells are better for getting more muscles or more parts of the muscle (also known as muscle fibers and motor units), dumbbells are good at getting more of those involved in the movement.
For example: With a dumbbell chest press you can hit parts of your chest that you couldn’t hit with a barbell because the weight load on the barbell is connected by the bar.
You have a lot more resistance on horizontal abduction and adduction when using dumbbells.
This means your recruiting certain motor units and muscle fibers that you’re not recruiting with a regular barbell press.
With a barbell press you will be able to hit your triceps a lot more and a dumbbell press will incorporate biceps for stabilization and less triceps.
Another huge advantage of dumbbells is that you can concentrate on one side by working each side individually.
This is especially great for beginners with lagging muscle groups or with muscle strength imbalances.
For example: If your right bicep is significantly stronger then your left bicep, dumbbells give you the chance to correct that strength imbalance.
There are also certain exercises that allow you to hit your muscles from a different angle that can only be done with dumbbells.
For example: The angle you get from a dumbbell concentration curl is gonna be pretty difficult to match with a barbell.
The other big advantage of using dumbbells over a barbell is that they are a lot safer.
I’ve given out with both dumbbell and barbell chest press and let me tell you from experience it’s much safer and easier to just drop the dumbbells on the floor rather than roll a barbell down your chest and ribs.
When it comes to really heavy weight, both barbells and dumbbells can lead to an injury so make sure you have a spotter
Speaking of injuries, dumbbells are usually the safer way to train when you have joint problems because they allow a free-er range of motion than the barbell.
Allowing your joints to travel along their most natural path during open chain exercises like presses and rows are great.
Many people avoid the bench because their shoulders hurt, but when they switch to dumbbell presses they’re fine.
There are also those who have mobility issues that can’t grab a barbell behind their neck due to poor shoulder flexibility, more specifically the rotator cuff.
Even though the goal with these people is to get them to eventually have more flexibility in their shoulders, it’s really good to have dumbbells available for those people with the lack of range of motion in their joints.
Even though dumbbells are very helpful for people that lack range of motion, one last major advantage of dumbbells over the barbell is that they can provide a greater range of motion for certain exercises.
A greater range of motion makes the exercise more effective on the muscle being targeted.
I’m going to use a Dumbbell chest press versus Barbell chest press as an example again.
Dumbbell Chest Press vs. Barbell Chest Press
With the barbell you can only go so low because the bar will eventually hit your chest and you obviously won’t be able to get any lower.
With a dumbbell chest press you can a full stretch at the bottom. However, if you have issues with your joints you want to be careful going too low.
Either way the dumbbells will typically allow a greater range of motion than a barbell.
Now that you know the pros and cons of each, it’s pretty obvious that each has its own uses and benefits. One is not inherently better than the other.
The best strength and muscle building programs include a combination of both barbells and dumbbells so you can experience the benefits of both of these.
They both bring different benefits to the table and these are two pieces of equipment that I always highly recommend you should get access to for your workouts.
For fat loss and building muscle, barbells and dumbbells both have a very similar effect.
You can burn fat and build muscle with both especially if you perform training methods such as barbell/dumbbell complexes.
If you have to choose between getting barbells or dumbbells it’s a pretty tough choice.
A traditional barbell and the weights required would most likely cost a lot less than a bunch of sets of dumbbells you don’t need a lot of plates because you can combine them to achieve various different weight loads with the barbell.
With a dumbbell you do have the option of getting the adjustable ones with plates, but you’ll usually find that those are very uncomfortable especially for exercises in which you have to rest the dumbbells on your legs like a chest press for example.
If I absolutely have to pick and if money wasn’t an issue and I was more concerned about working my upper body, I would definitely pick dumbbells.
There’s just more you can do with a variety of different dumbbells for the upper body.
However, if I was picking between barbells and dumbbells for the lower body, it would be a no brainer and I would have to go with the barbell.
Exercises like squats and lunges would be really hard to do without a barbell because the heavy weight load would have to be supported by your hands and your grip strength.
Another thing that would influence my decision about picking between the barbell and the dumbbell would be my goal.
Am I trying to bulk up or am I trying to build muscle? Am I trying to purely focus on aesthetics or am I more concerned about increasing my strength and power-lifting abilities.
For aesthetics if I had to pick between barbells and dumbbells, I would have to go with the dumbbells.
For strength and power it would be a no-brainer, I would have to go with the barbell.
The good news is that you don’t have to choose between the two.
There are gyms that cost roughly $20 a month and they have both barbells and dumbbells so I think that every gym should have both.
One thing to note is the Smith Machine barbell does not give you the same benefits that a real barbell that’s not locked into a range of motion will give you.
So make sure your gym has regular dumbbells and regular barbells available this way you can get the benefits of both.
That’s it guys I really hope you enjoyed this article and please leave a comment below because I want to hear what you think.
As I stated above, incorporating both dumbbells and barbells is going to give you the BEST results for building muscle and losing fat.
With that said…
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