T Nation

Disadvantages of Using Dumbells?


#1

I don't have a workout partner and i don't trust most of the people at my gym to spot me, for chest day, is it ok if i use dumbells every time? If im doing a light day i will use BB, but when im getting 5 reps and using heavy weight, i can't use barbell because i have no spotter and will have to rack it early in most cases.

So is it ok if i use DB on my heavy days?


#2

what kind of weight are you talking about ?

i say if you're at a point where you're getting good work from dumbells and progressing then have at it. but there really is no substitute for the weight you can load on a barbell. that kind of weight is just too difficult/risky to get in/out of position without a spotter.

even if you're still a couple reps from failure, you know doing singles or doubles, i would think you would get significantly more weight/benefit on a bb. given that i'd think you should load up the bb for your heavy day.


#3

Well, on a heavy day, on DB i may do 110's for 4-5 reps, im not sure what that would convert to on BB, but when i've tried BB in the past, i find myself quitting even when i probably had another 1-2 reps left, just because im scared that if i go for another rep i might get stuck.


#4

Do you have a power rack available?

That has been a life saver (litterally) for me when benching heavy.

I once used a bar with ball barings with a lot of weight and it fell out of my hands and onto the pins. I think I had 365lbs on the bar (doing lock outs), so it probably could have killed me.

I won't use that bar ever again, and won't bench outside the power rack again without a spotter.


#5

you could always just tell the people not to touch the bar unless you say so/its slowly falling back towards you


#6

The one thing I hate is that I've outgrown my gym's dumbbells unless I want to do sets of ten on the incline bench, I need them to break down and get me those dumbbells you see stuck under the corner of the rack and covered in dust.

I don't see any reason why you wouldn't be able to make progress using dumbbells, for the first 8 months we were in Iraq all we had was powerblocks and a bench, a log, and a metal bar we found somewhere, our routines were a little mundane, but we still managed to stay in shape.


#7

The question for me would be how well can you control the weights if you cannot keep primary control of the DBs I say lower the weight. Always use what you can control especialy if you don't have spotters or spotters you basically trust.

Example if you see a Vid of Coleman and Priest doing chest they use the DBs that nightmares are made of but they get them in place and dump them in a controlled manner if you google a vid or two you'll see what I mean.


#8

I am in the same place as you, as I went consistently for 4 mo. doing dumbell bench presses exclusively. They just work different stablizing muscles (some would say the dumbell works more).

There are advantages to working with dumbells; I would say they are always disadvantages to doing any exercise exclusively.


#9

I haven't used a barbell in years for flat bench press and saw very good gains from dumbbells. The barbell bench is overrated unless you are a rank beginner.


#10

Do not bench anything over 70% of your max without a spotter or a power rack. People have been killed with less. I have benched heavy for years in an adjustible power cage. I wouldn't even bench heavy with the typical spotter you might find.

110s with dumbells should be about the same as about 290 bench, at least for me, except that with dumbells, the first rep is relatively harder.


#11

This isn't true (other than that this may be the case for you alone). They are completely different exercises. I know people who can barbell bench close to 405lbs but who would have trouble getting two 140lbs dumbbells in the air.


#12

Personally I'm a big fan of DBs. I feel more comfortable with them and like that I can go lower with them verus a bar. Plus with it being independent on each arm, I can see where I may be lacking in one side of the other (rotator cuff stuff).
-T


#13

i agree with the both of yous: when i was throwing up the 110s i hit (a tough)305, but on the other hand my partner (no homo)would throw 85-90 comfortably but could not bench 175.


#14

I've looked into it, and you find all sorts of different rules of thumb for barbell/dumbell equivalence. The truth of the matter is, if you train exclusively at one, most of it won't convert over to the other, as the stablizers they use are different...etc. I'm much stronger on dumbell, for example, than barbell, bc I have exclusively trained at it (though my barbell improved in the meantime, not near as much as the dumbbells.)

As the Professor said, two different exercises.


#15

i just checked out this clip:

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/56118/ronnie_coleman_workout/

that is some shit! i'm just not that comfortable getting on/off the bench w/ heavy db's. apparently i need some more size. jeeez-s !


#16

Shit. That amount of control with that much weight is unreal. It means he could actually go heavier for reps. He looks even more impressive in his videos though. I have personally never seen someone train as hard as he does on a regular basis. His entire routine doesn't look forced at all.


#17

I agree that there is a lot of variability out there, and I won't argue that. The proportions you listed though are pretty close to the ones I use though, and would probably be right on if done for 5 or more reps.

290/110 is 2.64.
2.64 x 140= 370 which is a little below the (about) 405, but dbs for a single are relatively harder if you get into position and start from the bottom. I would still bet that somebody who can do 370 for 6 reps could probably get just about 140s for 6 with a little familiarity.


#18

One suggestion I'd make is trying a mini band stretched around the back while db benching. I haven't actually done this yet, but I plan on picking one up from elitefts.com soon as I use only dbs for benching (haven't bb benched in a few years).

I think the advantage of the mini band is that it will allow you to address one of the disadvantages of the dbs in that you start in the stretched position--the band will make the resistance lower at the bottom and higher at the top, thus minimizing that issue. Also, it will allow you to use a lower weight in the db, which can be an issue if you're working out somewhere that isn't "hardcore." Another advantage is that it will give you a variation on the movement, and that is always a good thing... now if I can just figure out how to attach chains to dbs.

I wouldn't use the band all the time, but it would be good to mix it up, and for ten bucks you can't go wrong.

On the db to bb ratio, I think it's a personal thing, but once you figure out what your ratio is, it will be consistent for yourself. For me, 110x5 with dbs was ~305x1 with the bb (haven't bb benched in awhile so I don't know what it is now).


#19

Bino-
Thanks for the suggestion of the mini-bands, I'd never thought about that before, but it would probably solve the problem.


#20

Thanks for the replies.

I wasn't so much as concerned with my strength, from barbell to dumbell, i was more worried about the developement of my chest. Im training for chest size, and i was thinking that maybe in some way - using dumbells every time i do chest might hinder my growth or not hit the pecs as hard.