The Pros Of Dumbbell Training
Let’s lose the mindset of waving around three-pound dumbbells, shaking your keister to some dance music and calling that serious training. Dumbbell training has many advantages over barbell training. The great Benjamin Franklin, in letters to his son, wrote that, “I live temperately, drink no wine, and use daily the exercise of the dumbbell.” Serious strength and mass goals can be achieved by training with dumbbells. I will even say that to fully maximize strength and hypertrophy, dumbbell training must play at least a partial role in one’s training regimen. Let’s take a look at seven advantages dumbbells have over the almighty barbell.
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Stabilization and Activation
One study compared the EMG activity of the chest, triceps and biceps when performing a barbell bench press, smith machine bench press and a dumbbell bench press. The dumbbell bench press and barbell bench press were similar in chest and triceps activity. Biceps activity was significantly higher with the dumbbells. Why? Dumbbells require greater stabilization. Ergo why it is very rare to see a world-class bench presser with spaghetti arms. Greater stabilization is a requirement with dumbbells, in turn, activating more muscle fibers. Dumbbells are functional training without becoming a modern day rendition of the now illegal sideshow.
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Identification and elimination of strength imbalances
Dumbbells force limbs to work unilaterally. If one side is significantly weaker than the other, there is no running and no hiding. Over-compensation is impossible with dumbbells, making them an effective agent on the war on imbalances.
Missing a heavy squat or bench press training alone means your ass is grass and the barbell is the lawn mower. When training with dumbbells, this is not the case, just drop ‘em and move on.
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Extreme intensity Techniques
Rest-pause, mechanical advantage drop sets and traditional drop sets are easier to set up and an actual reality for the solo trainer with dumbbells. The rack and run technique is exclusive to dumbbell training. Effective high intensity techniques are pretty much avoided by default with solo barbell training—not so with dumbbells.
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Increased Range Of Motion
One of the most effective ways to overload muscles for strength or muscle-building purposes is to increase range of motion. There is only so much range of motion one can accomplish with a row or press, not the case with dumbbell variations! Dumbbells can add a new dimension of overload to your go-to mass movements by extending the range of motion.
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When bench pressing with a barbell, your arms and shoulders are in a fixed position and move through a set range of motion. In contrast, dumbbell presses allow one to alter the movement pattern slightly and let the shoulders move freely. Barbell pressing has a set range of motion; due to this fixed position, you’re up crap creek without a paddle if this falls into an area where you experience pain. Dumbbell pressing allows you to externally or internally rotate your shoulders or bring the dumbbells lower down or higher up your body to specifically target muscles and press pain free.