Both dumbbells and barbells have been around since the beginning of time and have sculpted some of the best physiques we have seen in the industry.
They were the leading piece of kit many years ago when machines were a rare sight in gyms, and they have stood the test of time. You just have to take a look around your gym and you’ll see the biggest guys will all be using both dumbbells and barbells with very little machine work.
But which one is king? Let’s take a look at the advantages of each one …
- Require stabilisation during lifts, thus recruiting more muscle fibres overall
- Can be used iso-laterally for single arm exercises
- Can be used with various hand positions
- Are safer than a barbell for beginners, as you can’t get trapped under them
- Are good for working on strength imbalances
- Provide less need for a spotter, although this is always advised
- Can cope with more overall load, with less need for stabilisation. By placing more load on the muscle you will become stronger
- Are much better for power moves. No one squats or deadlifts with dumbbells
- Are more practical, as they are often already set in a rack or bench press, meaning you don’t have to manoeuvre the weight around wasting valuable energy
- Are ideal for explosive exercises like power cleans and snatches, as you can’t generate the same power with a dumbbell
If you’re looking for pure power and strength gains, then I would recommend using a barbell because you can handle more overall weight. However, if you’re heading down an aesthetic, bodybuilding or hypertrophy route, then using both of these tools will be most beneficial to your physique