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Dumbbell or Barbell Weight Training - What Should You Choose
By Jean Lam

Body building involves the use of weights to develop bigger and stronger muscles. You can use machines or you can simply stick to the basics which are dumbbells and barbells. But what should you choose? Usually, what can be performed with a barbell can also be done with two dumbbells, the major difference is each arm will support the weight completely and is independent of each other. With a barbell, if you put more effort in only one arm, you might not be able to do the exercise effectively. You have to use both arms.

But dumbbell has a major advantage in that it allows a greater range of motion. Say you're doing bench press with two dumbbells, you can lower the dumbbell on each side of your body much further to stretch your chest muscles also known as the pectorals. With a barbell, once the bar reaches your chest, you can't lower it anymore. Another exercise which is great for using dumbbells is bicep curls. With two dumbbells, you can use the full weight for each arm, so no cheating. With a barbell, sometimes, one arm might be doing more of the work to raise the barbell. Most often, this is the stronger arm.

Other exercises which dumbbells fit well are dumbbell press and dumbbell lateral raises. Dumbbell press works the whole shoulders and allows you to focus on each shoulder independently. Dumbbell lateral raises work the middle shoulder muscle and can't be performed with a barbell. So sometimes, you're limited with a barbell. With dumbbells, practically all exercises can be performed. You can have a full body workout just with dumbbells and you can isolate the muscles more. Even the powerful compound exercises like squats, bent over rows and deadlifts can be performed with two dumbbells.

Well should you only use dumbbells? Not necessarily. You can use both in fact. With a barbell, it's good to have that feel of supporting the weights completely with both arms and usually, a barbell is more convenient for squats and deadlifts. You can incorporate barbell and dumbbells together in your workouts. For eg, you can do dumbbell bicep curl and barbell bicep curl during your bicep muscle workout. Also, you get more exercises to perform to vary your training routine.

So whether you're using dumbbells or barbell, the important thing to remember is to concentrate well on what you're doing so that you can feel the muscle really working. Feel the burn and get the muscles really pumped up.

About the author

Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body Building Resource which provides articles on weight training, nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.


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