Barbells vs Dumbbells For Bodybuilding

Barbells vs Dumbbells For Bodybuilding

If you ask fitness freaks what have been their favorite fitness equipment in their entire fitness journey, they will surely it is training with weights. And this will include both the dumbbells and barbell training. If you are a total beginner, then you will be left to wonder because they might seem like very basic equipment.

There is not much learning curve you have to go through for working out with weights. But, the benefits that you will be getting with the weight training are enormously appealing. They are designed to aid you in resistance training to make normal moves harder on the muscles forcing it to develop more.

Both dumbbells and barbells have a very basic design. There will be a long bar with discs or weights suspended at both the ends of the bar. Dumbbells can be seen as a younger sibling of barbells that are designed to workout with a single hand while barbells are working out using both the hands.

Even with a simple structure, the potential the dumbbells has is infinite. There are is a huge variety of exercises where you use the dumbbells to your advantage. The biggest advantage of dumbbells and weights like it are that they can be utilized in different exercises.

Coupling them with other fitness equipment will help in increasing the resistance of the training, thus, increasing the overall intensity of the workout. For instance, take the case of working out with the bench press.

You can do it in two different ways. Either you can perform the military press by pushing a bar over your head or you can engage in dumbbell shoulder press where you will be pushing up two dumbbells.

There are different kinds of weights for you to try out but there is this confusion between all the fitness users. Which one is really better, barbells or dumbbells?

It is not easy to answer this question as each of these has its own advantages and flaws. So, depending on the kind of user you are, you may find it either too attractive or neglect it completely.



Dumbbells versus Barbells: Explained in Detail

Any way to bring more clarity into their uses, our experts have made a detailed comparison regarding the benefits of each of them. This way there will be no chance for any ambiguity and you will be making a wise decision when it comes to purchasing one of them for workouts.

Range of Motion

Dumbbells workouts are much more effective in training the pectoral muscles. You can do the arching movement with the dumbbells. Pectoral muscles get shaped and worked more when different kinds of movements are put together while working out them.

So, dumbbell workouts can be the best method by which you can develop the pectoral muscles on your chest. Of course, barbells can make you stronger but the number of exercises you could do with barbells is comparatively less than that you could do with dumbbells.

Just try to imagine yourself using the barbells. Both your hands will be busy holding the barbells in position preventing it from falling over you. During the workout, barbells will be kept at the same level as that of your shoulder and will be engaged in up and down movements.

The upper part of your arms must be a bit wider than the position of your torso for a successful barbell pressing. But that’s it; there isn’t anything more you could do here.


This lack of flexibility in barbell workouts is easily understandable. It is their specific designing that makes it restricted to a few workout methods. Both barbell workouts and dumbbell workouts are aimed at making your upper body muscles develop faster.

Since your hands are busy holding down the weights during barbell pressing, it almost impossible to engage it in a different way during the workouts. Now that’s with the case of barbells but think about using the dumbbells in the same way as you did on barbells.

Your hands will be holding the weights in the same way as you would on a barbell but your hands will be more at ease as compared to them. This gives you the extra flexibility to do a variety of exercises with it.

You can make movements that are the same as that of the barbells and ones different from them. You can move the weights away from your chest and in positions based on your fitness needs. Your hands are finally free away from your bars with them.


source: Barbells


Muscular Symmetry

We all have a preferred side which we use to do all kinds of works. Either you will be a lefty or you will be a righty. Yeah, there are ambidextrous guys who can use both sides effectively without bias but this is not that common. This body preference plays a key role in deciding your workout style.

Since everyone is having the tendency to use the dominant side more often, it is quite easy to notice that the dominant side of the body has a better health condition than the other side. You use it to lift weights and do household jobs and in almost anything. So, they get worked out more, therefore, the better physical condition.

So, whenever you lift weights or even make a simple walking movement, the dominant side will be the key player helping the other side to keep up with it. This will sound good when we understand the way they work but practically it can result in many problems in the longer run.

Our body is designed symmetrically at least for the skeletal structure and the muscular build. To avoid the dominant side bias and to get perfectly balanced workouts, you have to take care of certain things. It is advised to always prefer to use one hand at a time.

This will make sure that your dominant side won’t take the extra effort and make the workout easier for the other side. For instance, take the case when you use the preacher curl machine for working out your biceps muscles.

You can comfortably use it with both your left and right arms but to keep things balanced finish up the workouts with each arm separately. If you keep on using both the arms together then only one side of your body will get stronger.

The resistance you apply on the arms won’t be distributed evenly so prevent that from happening. The same issue is also noticed during barbell presses. The dominant side takes the upper hand and takes up the most effort for lifting up the weight.

If you look closely, you may even notice a slight bend in your barbell holding based on your preferred side. As a simple rule whatever exercise you are doing, ensure that each side of your body is receiving the same amount of resistance level.

To do this perfectly, you can utilize the dumbbells. Since dumbbells can be handled separately, it is very easy to work out with it to give equal resistance on both sides. Each of your arms will be getting separate dumbbells which will be used similarly together with the same resistance level.

And in here there won’t be a strong part of your body to help the other side out. With equal work done by both the parts, you can expect to get the same result in both of them.

Muscular Tension

Dumbbells are good for this task as these give maximum flexibility over the range of motion you can do with your arms. Dumbbell workouts involve a wide range of motions. Since more muscles an are engaged, the muscles tend to be contracted for a longer period of time when compared to that of barbell workouts.

And it offers a bit more resistance than the one provided by the barbells. Working out with barbells gives more emphasis to the chest muscles. When the hands are held wide on the bar, there is a tension that gets focussed on the front chest muscles.

This is different in the case of dumbbells which gives out an inward muscular motion that doesn’t produce the same result. When the chest muscles are subjected to more tension, they are forced to develop more, resulting in better-shaped chest muscles on your body.

Pectoral muscles can also be worked with dumbbells with different exercises. This is based on the expert opinions which are based on the studies conducted over a wide range of people.

Even the claim we made that dumbbell workouts are much more effective in developing the muscles are based on the study conducted by Dr. Tudor Bompa who did the research at York University using the Electromyography.

He is the one who researched to find out which kind of exercises are much better in developing muscular fibers. And it is his findings that dumbbells pressing in decline and incline mode are much more productive than the same workouts done using barbells.


source: Weider Dumbbells

Heavier Isn’t Necessarily Better

The golden rule to remind throughout your fitness journey is this – Heaviest doesn’t necessarily mean the best. Working out with the heaviest weights is not the same as doing the most efficient workouts. In most of the cases, the right and disciplined workouts are done consistently give out better results.

The case of barbells and dumbbells can also be taken in the same manner. Barbells will let you talk up weights that are much heavier than that you could take with the dumbbells but the flexibility it offers to you is limited.


I think we have tried our best in solving the debate between dumbbells and barbells. You must have come to figure out what’s best for you. But ultimately, it is your choice. Dumbbells will be capable of giving you flexibility in the workouts and helping you develop your body muscles much faster.

That in no way means that barbells are bad. They can be of good use when it comes to overall strength building and that is why they are popular among the famous bodybuilders.

So, we will suggest barbells as a better choice for people who want an overall better build and dumbbells for people looking for muscle-specific workouts.

With the design of barbells, the workouts offered by it is pretty limited yet straight forward while in the case of dumbbells, you have unlimited flexibility. You can use it to your advantage by including them in all the workouts you do.

It can increase the intensity of each workout by many folds. Having a pair of dumbbells in your home gym is like having a Swiss army knife in the fitness world. Yeah, all the goodness in a tiny package.

Still, there are things that can only be done with barbells. It can be taken to be an expert in barbell specific workouts. So, good luck with developing your body muscles.

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