13 Big Benefits of Dumbbell Training
“Everything old is new again, but sometimes those old things are still the best!” – Legendary strength coach, Charlies Polequin
Before I delve into the specific styles of training, exercises and regimes you can use to re-invent your physique let’s take a lot at the plethora of benefits dumbbell training has to offer you! If you’re not sold on how useful dumbbells can be as of yet you will be in a moment.
Mandatory Use of Synergistic Muscles
The recruitment of stabilizer muscles which would otherwise remain unworked if the barbell or machine based equivalent of an exercise was being performed is without a doubt the number one benefit of training with dumbbells. When training with a barbell both arms are stabilizing the barbell, when training with machines you’re locked in with a set range of motion – no stabilization is required.
As each dumbbell is an independent load not only are you required to power the weight up, but you must also stabilize the muscle and keep it in the ‘groove’ aka. Your set range of motion. By training your synergistic muscles you’ll be building a far more versatile, functionally strong physique.
More Versatile Than Machines & Barbells
Range of motion, grip style, path of the weight and whether you’re performing a double, unilateral or alternating exercise are all options when training with dumbbells – there’s no limits whatsoever as each dumbbell is an independent weight.
You can literally train your entire body with one pair of dumbbells. The cost of a heavy, reputable pair of dumbbells is still far less than the cost of most weight machines – and keep in mind that machines are generally used to isolate a particular body part e.g. the leg extension (quads) or push-down machine (triceps).
As I’m sure you can see the versatility and functionality of dumbbells, if it were to be replicated with machines, would cost thousands upon thousands of dollars!
Minimal Space Required
A few square feet is realistically all that is required to train with dumbbells, if you live in a small apartment you have no hope of ever training with a full sized barbell or machines – however dumbbells still remain an extremely feasible option.
If you’re a personal trainer and are running a group class or boot camp you’ll also appreciate how many clients of yours can train in the same area with dumbbells.
Train Safe Alone, No Spotter Necessary
No gym partner? No problems! Training with dumbbells without a spotter is safe. When performing exercises such as the dumbbell bench press and dumbbell shoulder press the weights are moving around your body – if you need to end a set early or hit failure it’s extremely easy to drop the dumbbells and get out safely. Barbells, on the other hand are always in front/above your body. Attempting a heavy set of barbell bench press or barbell overhead press without a spotter is a recipe for disaster – many (serious) injuries have been sustained due to barbell related exercises. As long as you don’t drop a heavy dumbbell on your foot you’re fine with dumbbells!
Increased Core Stability
As previously established as each dumbbell is held and stabilized individually while lifting you’re going to be utilizing a large amount of core strength to keep your body stable.
Correct Muscular Imbalances
We all have, had or will have a muscular imbalance, our bodies don’t always grow perfectly proportionate in regards to each side and muscle group. Barbell and machine based training cannot correct muscular imbalances, they’re how you get a muscular imbalance in the first place!
It’s common to have a ‘stronger side’. As you struggle out the last few reps on your machine press or barbell row it’s common for one side of your body to compensate for the other – variations in grip and pulling harder/closer with one side are signs of this. By training regularly with dumbbells you’ll not only be able to avoid muscular imbalances – but you’ll be able to correct them too! Unilateral training (focusing on one arm/side at a time) will isolate the muscle group in question, preventing any additional resistance from your dominant side.
Suited For Explosive Training
Explosive training – focused on altering the tempo (time required to lift, pause and lower the weight) to short, fast powerful bursts is most efficient when performed with dumbbells.
Explosive training is fantastic for developing raw strength and is the training style of choice for various disciplines of athletes too.
Dumbbells Can Train The Entire Body
With only a pair of dumbbells you can perform multiple exercises for each and every muscle group. Various forms of dumbbell presses will work your chest, dumbbell rows for your back, raises and presses will target your shoulders while squats and lunges will obliterate your legs.
Weighted abdominal training utilizing a dumbbell as opposed to a medicine ball is a popular method of building core strength too.
Versatility of Repetitions
When training with dumbbells not only is there a plethora of different exercises for each muscle group, there’s also a number of different methods in regards to the versatility of your repetitions which is exclusive to dumbbells! The traditional method of lifting both dumbbells at the same time can be alternated and combined with alternating each dumbbell or performing all of your repetitions on one side prior to commencing the other side.
Why mix it up?
It’s a fantastic method to correct muscular imbalances, it engages the mind as stabilizing and lifting two individual weights while maintaining your range of motion requires a lot more mental effort and it’s also just a change of scenery to keep you motivated and interested in your training.
Greater Contraction on Exercises
I speak from experience when I say the contraction (the squeeze at the top and bottom of each repetition) experience is far more apparent when lifting with dumbbells as they’re not locked into a set plane of movement.
For example, the pectoral muscles can be engaged far better when contracting at the top of a dumbbell bench press if the dumbbells are ‘tweaked’ and moved slightly closer together as you consciously squeeze the muscle. Unfortunately neither a machine nor a barbell can replicate this contraction as both arms are locked in to the same range.
Easier to Teach Than Barbell Equivalents
A biceps curl is a relatively simple exercise to learn in all forms, whether this be a dumbbell, a barbell or a machine based variation. However, when we’re discussing more advanced compound exercises such as the snatch – any strength coach will tell you it’s far easier to gain confidence and to learn the technique of lifting with a dumbbell prior to progressing to the barbell variation of the exercise.
Remember, lifting with dumbbells is far safer too!
Minimalistic ‘No Frills’ Results Oriented Style of Training
Dumbbell training has been around for thousands of years, from ancient strong men to modern day minimalistic bodybuilders – many, many god-like physiques in terms of both aesthetics and strength have been constructed solely using dumbbells. There’s no need for any fancy equipment or bogus training techniques.
Here Are The ONLY Pair of Dumbbells I’ll Ever Recommend…
Instead of buying multiple sets of dumbbells or messing around screwing weight plates on and off your dumbbells between sets and exercises the Bowflex adjustable dumbbell makes progressing with your routine and exercise so much easier and efficient.
Adjustable in 2.5lb increments all the way up to 52.5lbs per dumbbell, ideal for the beginner or intermediate gym-goer
You can invest in a pair of these dumbbells that’ll last you forever here.