T Nation

Dumbells vs. Straight Bar


I have, for the most part, strictly used dumbells for the past several years, implementing them in everything from bench press to bent over rows. I started the first day of the new Waterbury program today and realized that due to excercise selection such as a narrow grip on something one day and a wide grip another, that it was time to get back into the world of the straight bar.

It occurred to when doing excercises such as bent over rows that I felt them more in the back due to the fact that my hands were fixed in place as opposed to the tendency of kinda going where they wanted to with the dumbells. My philosophy for using dumbells all along has been having a fear of strength imbalance which would result in poor form and overdevelopment. However, it dawned on me, if I have a tendancy to flare one arm out further with a dumbell, then the same thing is likely to occur.

I'm sure this is something most of you have thought about and reached an opinion on, but I just thought I would run by grand realization by y'all. A couple of questions though: How big of a deal is it if say on the flat bench, one arm has a tendency to come down a tad bit quicker than the other? If there is some unilateral dumbell work implimented in the program, would this help correct possible issues of strength imbalance?

Also, do most of you agree that a program consisting of straight bar variations and dumbells is superior to one that is constituted only of dumbells or the straight bar?

I look forward to the responses.


This response intrigues me as well, although i know what the answers are going to be. Due to a rotator cuff surgery, i have one arm about 1.5 inches shorter than the other, so my entire muscle firing protocol is very different between each arm on all straight bar activities, pushups, and dips.

I wish there existed a contraption for dumbell bench pressing for placing dumbells into and allow for a lift off the same way as with a barbell bench. (sigh) Yes i know one of the purposes of db's is the stabilizer activation, but regardless, it would make getting the dbs in place for squating, push presses, and heavy presses much easier.


They have those handles that hold dumbbells that you can lift off like the bench press! You can find the advertisements in the back of musclemagazines.


I vary it depending on the exercise. for example, with bench press I use barbell because I feel my form isn't good with dumbells.I always wind up using too much front delts and tris.


Are you doing them with the bars paralell to your chest or perpindicular?