FitTIPS - Barbell vs Dumbell

Wed, 30 Oct 2019

Look, we all know that to maximise our muscle growth, there's no question that we would need to focus on free weights exercises. However, it is often a common debate between gym-goers and fitness enthusiasts. Most individuals tend to favour one over the other — and that's perfectly fine.

At Fitlion, we believe that each type of equipment has its unique role, which can undoubtedly bring you closer to your muscle goals! Whether it's fat loss, hypertrophy or strength gains, these free weights equipment are sure to get you there but just with the million-dollar question — when to use it and how to use each of them adequately for the best payoff?

To start off, let's take a look at the advantages of using barbells!


Advantages of Barbells

According to Built with Science, there are three main mechanisms of muscle growth. Among the three mechanisms (Mechanical Tension, Metabolic Stress, and Muscle Damage), mechanical tension is suggested as the primary driver of muscle growth.

In order to maximise the mechanical tension, an individual would be required to carry out heavy compound movements and getting stronger with them over time. Yes, this means heavier lifting can eventually help you progress faster in your muscle growth and gets you stronger over time. Hence, the 2011 and 2013 clinical studies further revealed that an individual could lift an average of 20% more weight with a barbell compared to dumbbells.

Theoretically, barbell heavy compound movements require less stabilisation compared to the compound movements of dumbbells. Thus, this also means less energy wastage to get your weights into position before pressing on with your progressive overloading of weights for greater mechanical tension.

Despite all the advantages of barbells, we shouldn't just focus on barbell massive compound movement exercises and overlook what dumbbells have to offer. Dumbbell exercises do still have an edge in muscle growth as well.


Advantages of Dumbbells

With the information above, you may be thinking that barbell would have won the century debate and take the cake. However, before jumping into conclusion, we would need to delve deeper into finding out the advantages of dumbbells.

According to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, the research has indicated that dumbbell bench presses tend to elicit higher muscle activation compared to barbell bench presses. Moreover, a large extent of EMG analysis by Bret Contreras has also revealed that both the flat and incline dumbbell presses elicit greater chest activation compared to the barbell presses.

  • EMG analysis by Bret Contreras revealed that both the flat and incline dumbbell presses elicit greater chest activation compared to the barbell presses

Thus, with increased muscle activation through a more natural path of motion compared to the heavy compound movement of a barbell, it can help to minimise muscle imbalance for your overall muscle growth.

By incorporating a set of dumbbells in your workout, your body can't subconsciously favour either side when you are doing your curls or presses as each arm will be working on the strength training independently.

In addition, better muscle activation can also help to target specific muscle groups more effectively and work your way around aches in joints.

Therefore, if you are hoping to lead on with greater balanced muscle development and growth in the long run, dumbbell would certainly be a greater option!


So, Barbells Vs. Dumbbells: Who takes the cake?

At Fitlion, we believe that each equipment has its own drawbacks and most certainly, their own benefits to elevate your muscle growth. If you were to avoid one in favour of the other, this means you will always miss out on one set of benefits which each equipment uniquely brings.

  • Image Credits to Built with Science

Instead, we would encourage individuals to incorporate both pieces of equipment to achieve optimal and balanced muscle development!


In need of speeding up your muscle growth?

Other than pumping it hard on those barbells and dumbbells, are there any other ways to maximise your muscle growth? Yes, protein powder is the 'whey' to go for muscle growth!


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