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Comparision between dumbbells and barbells
Dumbbells and barbells are both very popular stength training tools used by people all over the world. Both barbells and dumbbells can be considered as “Weights” as both rely on mass and gravity to create resistance to help build muscle. However, dumbells and barbells are not identical, nor can they replace the role of one another. Understanding the differences between dumbbells and barbells can help you choose the right workout equipment that best suit your needs.
Purpose of dumbbells and barbells as strength training tools
Dumbbells are known as free weights as they are more mobile and can be moved more easily compared to barbells. They can be used in a variety of moves and for almost all muscle groups on your body. Dumbbells are meant to be used in pairs, one for each arm so that the weight balances.
Dumbbells build muscle in 2 ways. Firstly, by creating a downward force with its weight so that strength is needed to lift it in different directions. Secondly, your stability muscles are worked as you try to keep the weights in place and your body in the right posture.
Barbells on the other hand, is longer, larger and often heavier than dumbbells, hence they are not as mobile and less exercises can be performed with barbells. Barbells were originally used by strongmen and powerlifters in competitions like the olympics to demonstrate how much weight they can lift.
Purpose of barbells as strength training tool is to build size and provide comfort so that more weights can be added.
Effectiveness of dumbbells VS barbells
Without a doubt, both are good at building muscle as they provide weight. There are few substitutes for weights and resistance bands is by far the best alternative if you can’t find dumbbells or barbells near you.
Dumbbells are effective at building muscle on most parts of your body. Dumbbells will work as long as you cna find a right position to hold them and perform the exercise, in fact, there are tons of variations to work a single muscle like the bicep. There is the standing curl, concentrated curl, hammer curl, congdon curls, etc.
However, effectiveness of building muscle with dumbbells may be limited when you are unable to put on as much weight on each dumbbell as some of your strength is used to balance both sides so that they remain level. If you try to do bench press with dumbbells, you will find that it takes quite a bit of effort to keep both dumbbells level and straight as you perform the movement.
Barbells are very effective at the exercises which it is commonly used for, such as bench press, squats, deadlift, clean press, shoulder press, etc. These exercises top the list when it comes to building muscle mass. Many bodybuilders cannot lift without barbells as it allows them to perform all these exercises.
This is because barbells reduce the need for balancing and stability as the bar is long. Positioning your hands such that the centre of gravity of the bar is in the middle of both hands enables you to treat the barbell as one single piece of weight. As a result, people who have used barbells find that they can put on heavier weights as compared to dumbbells, making muscle building more effective.
Which one to choose?
Most people start with dumbbells and progress to barbells. However good news is you can get both. If you have an adjustable set of dumbbells, buying a barbell with the same width allows you to transfer weights plates from the dumbbell onto the barbell bar. However, if you’re limited by budget, I would recommend you start with dumbbells as there is a wider variety of exercises that you can do with them. Fitness programs such as P90X by Tony Horton includes dumbbells as part of their workout.