Monster Guide: Dumbbells Vs Barbells


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


To summarise…

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

About the Author

Since the age of 7 when I first stepped foot on a rugby pitch, sport and fitness has been a major part of my life. I went on to play a decent standard of ruby which entailed a lot of different styles of training, on and off the pitch. The importance of fitness was further distilled in me when I joined the Army at the age of 16. The Army’s way of physically training it’s soldiers is very different from civilian PT, you are taught to dig deep and find the courage to never give up no matter how hard the exercise, and you must be seen to be giving 100% effort at all times. I loved the Army’s mentality towards training so I became an Army Physical Training Instructor (PTI). I was fortunate enough to be posted into the gym and my main focus was on preparing soldier’s physically for over sea’s operations. I have lifted weights now for around 8 years, I would say I have been seriously bodybuilding for maybe 2 years. When I left the army and started training at Maxxmuscle gym, home of IFBB Pro Anth Bailes, is when I started bodybuilding. Just talking to the guy makes you want to get on stage and he is defiantly a great ambassador for the sport. The army has always taught me that, to progress you need to have short and long term goals, discipline, and a passion for something. My passion is now the health, fitness and anything associated with them. I love training every single day, I love keeping track of my nutrition every single day, and I love helping people out with less knowledge than myself because I was once in their shoes. After competing in 2014 I became part of the monster supplements team. I consider this a massive privilege to have their backing during my 2015 offseason and further competitions to come.
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