the fitness journal
Barbell vs. Dumbbells
A bad workman often blames his tools, and that analogy might not be so far off when it comes to working out.
A muscle plan is only successful if the correct demands are progressively put on the body and you are providing the right fuel. This includes using the right tools to fit with your body type, workout regime and desired results.
The Great Debate
Using tools that don’t fit with your needs and abilities can have a detrimental effect but using tools in the right way creates an impactful workout. Both dumbbells and barbells are effective workout tools to build strength and muscle, but what works best for you may not have the desired effect for someone else.
I generally recommend dumbbells to clients in the beginning stages of their fitness. Holding weights in either hand helps to improve coordination and balance in a safe way. You can learn how to use weights in a way that is comfortable for you before moving on to barbells. Dumbbells also help to prevent or improve strength imbalance – a problem that many beginners face. You can then adjust your body to exercising in the most effective way.
When you start moving onto heavier weights, I usually advise moving over to barbells. They are far less cumbersome and more practical, especially when it comes to working legs. They are also ideal to support your progression through small incremental weight increases. Barbells also support heavy-duty exercises such as squats and deadlifts where these big compound movements can be beneficial for certain goals.
The Right Tools
It’s important to remember that it’s not the tools that directly decide the outcome of a training plan. An effective and sustainable training plan is built on theory and numbers.
In the same way that a fat loss plan will only work with the right training and sufficient calorie deficit over an extended period, the decision about which tools are ‘best’ will be tailored to your individual needs.
Some people may argue that you need to be lifting monster weights under the squat or with the deadlift for results. Often these same people will suffer more at the hands of heavy dumbbell lunges or Bulgarian split squats. It’s all about choosing the right tools for you.
No More Comparisons
I always remind my clients to focus on their own fitness and ignore background noise. Fitness and results isn’t about comparisons yet many people fall into this trap. High carb versus low carb. LISS versus HIIT, heavy weights versus light weights. None of these options are better than the other – again, it’s about what is right for you. The only competition you enter should be with yourself, in order to test your own limits and master your own personal best.
Select the tools and methods that work for you and don’t compare to anyone else or their workout. Utilise everything that may be valuable for you, work as hard as you can and you’re on the home stretch.