Dumbbells, the often-neglected piece of exercise equipment seen at gyms and in homes. Serious weightlifters and exercise enthusiasts don't use those short, "inferior" little bars, right? Wrong!
Dumbbell training provides some phenomenal benefits that barbells, kettlebells, exercise machines and other types of resistance training tools can't touch. In fact, the advantages of dumbbell exercises may come as a surprise to most, even to avid gym goers who certainly know their way around the weight rooms.
It's not that dumbbells are inconspicuous. In most gyms these little (well, sort of) powerhouses line the walls in the free-weight section of any serious gym and should definitely be part of your home gym.
Here are four advantages of dumbbells:
- Dumbbell training is relatively easy on joints, especially compared to barbells. One example: Compare the barbell bench press with the dumbbell bench press. Dumbbells allow for freer and more natural wrist and elbow movement.
- Going to the gym to use the machines, the barbells and the dumbbells is great. But some people sometimes prefer a home gym. Dumbbells are fantastic space savers. You don't need to build a home add-on or clear out a room like with bulky barbells and large machines, although that might be really fun. Dumbbells can be hidden or stored away and provide the same – and sometimes better – benefits than barbells.
- Dumbbells are individualistic. That means you can do unilateral dumbbell training on one limb or one side of the body to offset possible strength imbalances. It also forces a weaker arm to perform the same amount of work as the other arm, a form of muscle-building equity. Barbell exercises can allow a stronger arm to make up the difference during lifting.
- Dumbbells provide an added level of safety especially in home gyms. A good example: You can toss or drop the weights during dumbbell training while doing lunges, military presses or even bench presses at the point of failure or in the event of a missed rep.
How Do I Use the Dumbbells?
Here are some example exercises to send you on your way to some muscular results:
Starting from the back, literally. Some of these exercises are self-explanatory.
- Stiff-Legged Dumbbell Deadlifts are the same as the stiff-legged barbell deadlift, but with dumbbells.
- Bent Over Two-Dumbbell Rows are the same as the bent-over barbell row. Bend forward with your back at about a 45-60 degree angle.
- Front Dumbbell Raises are done standing up by lifting your straight arms forward and up. Alternate lifts between the right and the left arm.
Next the chest. Do these on a weight bench that can incline. These are great for the pectorals and the triceps.
- Flyes are done with arms slightly bent, not straight, with palms facing upward. You can do these on either a flat bench or one at a 45-degree angle.
- The bench press with dumbbells can also be done on both a flat and inclined bench.
Now the legs.
- Split Squat with Dumbbells is done on one leg at a time. As its name suggests, you're going down on one leg at a time then doing the other leg while holding the dumbbells at your side.
- Dumbbell Goblet Squat is done by holding a single dumbbell by one side in front of the chest. Then do squats.
- Dumbbell Lunges are done just like regular lunges, except you're holding dumbbell weights.
Now the shoulders.
- The Dumbbell Shoulder Press is done while sitting down. It's the same as the Military Press but with dumbbells. It allows you to use a more natural movement.
- The Seated Side Lateral Raise is done by lifting the dumbbells to the side with straight arms, like you're trying to fly. This really isolates the side deltoids in the shoulder muscles.
Most conventional barbell exercises can be done effectively with dumbbells. Dumbbells, however, help build the supporting balancing muscles used to stabilize and control movement.
Where can I purchase Dumbbells?
Ironcompany carries the largest selection of dumbbell equipment in the fitness industry. We carry only the gold standard used by serious bodybuilders, CrossFitters, athletes and fitness enthusiasts to build strong, muscular physiques.
About the Author
Jayson Operio’s certifications include: NASM CPT - National Academy of Sports Medicine - Certified Personal Trainer, ACIM CPT - American College of Integrative Medicine - Certified Personal Fitness Trainer and PEX CPT - APEX Fitness Group - 24/5 Complete Personal Trainer. Jayson previously was a personal trainer with 24 Hour Fitness, guiding clients to achieve their fitness and sport performance goals. He has almost twenty years of combined fitness industry sales experience with previous companies Busy Body Home Fitness, Precor Home Fitness, Polar Electro, and currently IRON COMPANY. His passion for fitness was set as a foundation at an early age. With his father in the military, push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and running a couple of miles were the norm. It was cross training for physical fitness. Fast forward, and now with over fifteen years in the fitness industry, he has gained experience and knowledge about various products and training techniques, and how they can be utilized to better one's fitness level and/or sport performance. His personal performance goals to run faster, jump higher, cycle longer, and press heavier have influenced his commitment to find fitness solutions. Knowing how the right equipment with proper technique can lead to results first hand, he’s here to share my knowledge with others to find the right products at a great price. Contact Jayson here.