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Question of the Week: Barbells vs. Dumbbells

Our experts clarify which weights you should train with to get the results you want.

The science behind fitness and health is wild, crazy and ever changing. One minute a study supports a particular claim, then next it's the worst thing you could humanly do to or for yourself. Sometimes you'll even find the same questions looming around the industry with mixed reviews, perspectives and findings. In efforts to calm the maddess, each week here at MensFitness.com we'll scour the Internet, tap into forums and ask our friends on Facebook and Twitter about what question in fitness we can get some firm answers to.

This week, we explain the benefits of barbell and dumbbell training.

Q: What are the major differences between training with barbells vs. dumbbells?

 

A: Like most fitness-oriented apparatuses, both barbell and dumbbell training have their advantages. What any gym-goer should consider is what they are trying to achieve with their training. Dumbbells are great for beginners for many reasons, chief amongst them being the safety aspect. Benching and squatting with a barbell can be risky, accidents and injuries can happen if the athlete isn’t strong enough or has poor form. Dumbbells are also great for single-limb training. Strength imbalances can be worked on with single-limb dumbbell training.

However, dumbbell training has it’s pitfalls as well. Dumbbells only go up to a certain weight, therefore serious strength training should be conducted with barbells as they allow for much more added load to lifts. Squatting, one of the most important exercises, is best executed with a barbell because of the even load across the spine. Furthermore, barbells are best used for developing dynamic power lifts like the clean or press, because they require the entire body to move as one coordinated unit. The barbell forces the user to generate and use power. 

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