Dumbbells Vs Barbells
Dumbbells versus Barbells. Which is better for gaining 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 two uses both arms on one bar allowing you to lift a lot heavier of 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 a barbell is you can rest it 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 than 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.
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So it seems for sure that for strength and power barbells win, 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 to horizontal abduction and adduction going on with dumbbells which again just 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 and you can work 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 down to the ground 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…………..actually…… speaking of injuries dumbbells are usually the safer bet 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. I’ve had a lot of clients that couldn’t bench because their shoulders would hurt but when we switched it to dumbbell presses they were fine. I’ve also had other clients with mobility issues that couldn’t grab a barbell behind their neck due to poor shoulder flexibility…..more specifically the rotator cuff. And 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.
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