Barbell, Dumbbell NotesUnderstand scientific research that compares barbells to dumbbells. Muscle gains are measured.
strong health tips

Barbell, dumbbell. Are barbells or dumbbells better for gaining muscle? This has been researched before. Both work, but overall barbells (loaded heavy) are a good start.


Dumbbells. These are effective (provided you do not focus on biceps curls). Exercises such as the chest press are as effective as barbells if you use heavy weights.

Warning Lifters tend to select dumbbells that are too light. Guys want big muscles, but don't want to lift heavy things.

Tip Dumbbells are effective and will spur the growth of larger muscles. They will improve smaller stabilizer muscles.

Lifting info:
Dumbbells Lighter load (-17%) Barbells Heaviest load

Curls. I mentioned biceps curls. This is not an important exercise. It is not full-body. It makes your biceps bigger, but may cause imbalances in your body.


Note Do not be one of those guys who has big biceps but is otherwise scrawny. I could crush you in my massive thighs.

Workout I do curls (and reverse curls) with an Olympic barbell in my workouts. I enjoy curls. But they are not important for fitness.

Barbells. These are a better choice for sheer size and mass gain. You can go much heavier with barbell exercises—with less concern for stabilizing the weight.

Full body Barbells encourage full-body exercises more than dumbbells, such as barbell squats.

Also An Olympic barbell weighs 45 pounds. You can't lift a light barbell even if you want to.

For muscle mass, barbells are usually thought to be superior to dumbbells. Full-body exercises such as squats cause growth hormone and testosterone to increase.

Testosterone, Lifting

Growth Hormone

Thus When you do heavy full-body lifts with barbells, your mass gains will be superior.

Research. Here I am going to pretend I am a scientist. Researchers measured the muscle activation in dumbbell chest presses, barbell bench presses, and Smith machine presses.

And Dumbbells resulted in more activity in the biceps. And barbells resulted in more activity in the triceps.

Quote Electrical activity in the biceps brachii increased with stability requirements, while triceps brachii activity was reduced using dumbbells versus barbell.

A comparison of muscle activity

Research, continued. The load was greater with the barbell. The barbell activated more muscle fibers—overall, and in the triceps. It had less stability requirements.

Quote The dumbbell load was 14% less than that for the Smith machine and 17% less than that for the barbell. The barbell load was [approximately] 3% higher than that for the Smith machine (A comparison of muscle activity).

Less stabilization. The barbell bench press requires less stabilization. It works different muscles. And it recruits more muscle fibers due to its increased load.

Thus An ideal training program would perhaps use both exercises—the dumbbell chest press and the barbell chest press (bench press).

Bench press. We choose between the barbell bench press and the dumbbell press. On both of these exercises, you lie on the flat bench and press weight upwards. But which one is better?

Next I cite an expert opinion on this matter. I have researched strength training. The book Starting Strength is a good resource.

And On page 67, the book notes that dumbbell press is probably superior. Here is a quotation from this fine literature.

Quote The dumbbell version of the exercise, which actually predates the barbell version... is probably a better exercise for most purposes (Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training).

Dumbbell benefits. The dumbbell bench press requires "more active, conscious control." You cannot use as much weight. Your muscles need to stabilize the movement more.

And For this reason you can't brag about the dumbbell press as much as the barbell bench press.

Problem. Another problem is mentioned in Starting Strength. Many trainees don't use heavy weights with the dumbbell bench press. How can you use heavy weights?

Tip For the dumbbell press, you can try pushing the weights up into position with your legs as you lean backwards.

Tip 2 The dumbbell chest press exercise is a good addition. For home gyms it is an ideal replacement for the barbell bench press.

Also The dumbbell chest press is less dangerous when done alone. You can simply drop the dumbbells.

With barbells, particularly Olympic barbells, more weight plates can be added. You just slide them onto the barbell. Usually it is safest to put a collar on the barbell.

Note It would be much harder to get a specific weight with dumbbells. Often dumbbells are not adjustable at all.

Body weight. There are also many exercises you can do without weights. Some of these include pull-ups and dips—both parallel bar dips and triceps dips.

Dips I like to do dips at home. This has helped me gain muscle mass on my upper body.


Pull-ups I am not going to tell you how many pull-ups I can do. This would be embarrassing. But I encourage you to do them.


Tip Some exercises are combinations. The squat, for example, requires you to support your entire body weight in addition to the barbell.

Kettlebells. I am not impressed with kettlebells. These are around weight with a metal handle. Kettlebells, like dumbbells, may lead to less muscle size gains than barbells.

Neck. I don't need to take off my shirt for people to know. A thick neck makes a person look like a pillar of strength. It would not be easy to choke this person.


Traps. These are your trapezius muscles. They make you look strong and like a walking block. Do shrugs, squats. You can use either barbells or dumbbells.

Hands. Stores will sell you all sorts of equipment that is designed to make your hands stronger. You don't need this stuff. Instead, get a barbell that has metal collars on it.

Hand Strength

A review. Barbells are overall better for muscle mass gain than dumbbells. Football coaches tend to agree. The barbell squat is a mainstay of their training regimens.

© 2009-2021 stronghealthtips.com. thanks for visiting.