T Nation

Dumbbells vs. Barbells


#1

Is there any great difference between choosing one over the other? I understand that barbells hold significantly greater weight than a dumbbell, but regarding stabilizer muscles, etc., wouldn't dumbbels be a better choice? ISTM that one would also not be able to "cheat" dumbbells by using their dominant arm to lift a greater share of the weight than their weaker arm.

Finally, I'm planning on training at home (at least until I can get my numbers up to something respectable before heading into the gym). I'm planning to get some dbells and weights to start my program (planning on beginning with overhead squats, deadlifts, bent over rows and lunges and shrugs. If I ever get a bench, I will work in the benchpress as well) to get some additional strength for MMA - would dbells be more useful in this instance?


#2

You pretty much answered your own question. The only thing I would add is that dumbbells are generally more effective for unilateral upper body work (though 1-armed barbell press variations are useful too).

What do you need to improve on? The need will dictate which exercises are better at this point, but that will change as you change and adapt to stimuli.

-Dan


#3

Dumbells helped me years ago after shoulder injury with straight bar.When i could bench 100lb bells for 15reps,i could bench 315 -15 reps with bar


#4

Hell, I was doing romanian deadlifts with dumbells and I couldnt feel my left wrist after...
with a barbell i dont have that problem.

Dumbells tell you secrets...


#5

Accumulating a set of dumbbells costs more and will take up more space. For example if you are easily working your chest with two sixty-five pound hex dumbbells and you want to move up to two seventies, in order to move up ten pounds, you have to buy 140 lbs. At fifty cents a pound that's $70. Repeat when you want to move up from seventy to seventy-five, and so on. Pretty soon it's cheaper to join a gym and use theirs.


#6

Just buy those dumbbells that adjust on their stand. 5 to 120 right there.


#7

Have you priced those adjustable set? The heaviest I've seen is IronMaster, adjustable from 5 to 75 lbs. For a pair it's about $500. The add on kit to bring each dumbell up to 120 lbs is another $225, for a total of about $725 for 240 lbs. No bargain there.


#8

dude i know this is gonna sound bad but,Walmart has you beat,they have db's for $5-$20 a piece depending on how heavy you go...they aint the best but there heavy


#9

The operative phrase is "depending on how heavy you go". If you mean these, they are 30 lbs a piece. It doesn't look to me like you can get another 90 pounds on the bar.


#10

Check out Ironmind, last I checked they sell extended olympic-collar dumbbell handles (obviously adjustable). Cheaper than buying them individually, and the plates can be used on the barbell too.

-Dan


#11

IronMind does seem to be the place to go. I wish I knew that 10 years ago when I started accumulating the hex dumbbells that are lined up along 18 feet of the west wall in my living room.


#12

Set of oly dumbbell handles cost me $35 off of ebay. You can load it up to 150 pounds, using 25 pound plates.


#13

A lot of the better leg exercises are better off done with barbells (You can squat and deadlift with dumbells I know, but when going really heavy grip becomes a problem and the whole movement just feels awkward. Plus I don't know that there are dumbells that go over 200 lbs). As for upperbody, you're better off with both. Dumbbells will train the stabilizers more, barbells will train main movers better.