WHAT'S BEST FOR YOU: Barbells or Dumbbells?

by Vikki Schembri on February 17, 2021

It’s well known that a great workout routine should include cardio and weightlifting.

The combination of these workout styles is the right formula for burning fat, building muscle, and toning up.

Balancing cardio and weight training is also important because it reduces your risk of injuries – within and outside of exercising. As well it improves your balance, flexibility, and overall your quality of life!

Free weights are an awesome way to achieve all these benefits. And of all the free weights out there, dumbbells and barbells are the most popular! But… which to choose?

While you can’t go wrong with either, there might be one that suits YOU better. Let’s check em out:

THE BENEFITS OF DUMBBELLS

Dumbbells are great for home gyms, particularly because they take up little physical space.

Also, they are so compact that they can be moved around in ways that mimic your natural movements. They encourage greater range of motion and put less pressure on your joints, reducing your injury risk. 

Dumbbells allow you to develop strength and get better form without requiring you to have a specific, meticulous form.

That said, because dumbbells introduce movements that are less stable (i.e. doing a press with a dumbbell in each hand versus with a barbell requires much more shoulder stability), there’s a greater risk of a form-related injury if you increase weight too quickly. So progress slowly and make sure each rep is done well before it is done heavy! 

GREAT VERSATILITY

Out of all other free weights, dumbbells are the most versatile out there. Whether you are interested in circuit or interval training, strength training, or another type of training, the range of weights dumbbells are available in allows you to find a set that suits your needs perfectly.

However, having a range of dumbbell weights can become expensive. Because dumbbells are not adjustable, progressions in strength can cost you some extra money.

Thankfully, with the range of movements you can do with dumbbells, having a “standard”, go-to weight to complete intervals with and a heavier set for those slower, heavier gym days should be sufficient for your workout routine!  You don't need the whole set - you just need the right weights for your workouts. 

EXCELLENT FOR OVERALL CONDITIONING

Dumbbell workouts demand a great range of motion and stability. In testing these physical skills you will be activating more muscle fibres, which strengthens your connective tissues, joints, and general balance.

If you were to build muscle mass without conditioning these areas, you'd be setting yourself up for injury.

Dumbbells also help to minimize muscle imbalances due to the fact that you can only hold one in your hand. This forces you to do unilateral movements, working each side of your body independently, and prevents you from unconsciously letting your dominant muscles do all the work. 

THE BENEFITS OF BARBELLS

Barbells are the best free weights for lifting heavy and progressing to even heavier weights.

Lifting heavy and progressing in weight stimulates mechanical tension, which is key for muscle growth.

From Olympic bars to Powerlifting bars, Curl bars to Hex bars, there are so many options for lifting a bar, putting it down, adding weight, and repeating until you can’t no more!

LIFT MORE

A barbell’s greatest advantage over a dumbbell is your ability to add more weight, and thus lift more weight. For example, our maximum weight for a dumbbell is 50 lbs.

As well, most people can lift more with a barbell than they can with a dumbbell. This is because a barbell allows the weight to be distributed more evenly across your body. That said, it’s easier to develop strength imbalances with barbells.

BETTER WEIGHT PROGRESSION

Barbell plates – which start as low as 0.5 lbs – give you more flexibility to add smaller weight increments from one workout to another.

This allows you to build strength quicker and smoother than you would with dumbbells, which might require a more drastic jump between weights. With this better weight progression, you are less likely to plateau with barbells. 

BETTER YET: USE BOTH!

Barbells and dumbbells are both really, really awesome. It's not about which one is objectively better - but which would suit YOU and your goals better.

Regardless of which you choose, your body will adapt to the exercises you perform. So, using both dumbbells and barbells in your workout regimen is the best of both worlds. 

Dumbbells ensure you’re working on your stability, which supports perfect form. Barbells help advance muscle strength faster. Use both and you'll be nearly indestructible! 

Still got questions? Feel free to reach out to our Customer Care Team! We’d love to help you figure out what would work for you 😊

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