Dumbbells vs Barbells: Which Is the Best

Training with free weights is the best and most effective way of building strength as well as muscles. Free weights are simply barbell and dumbbell exercises. Both are very popular strength training equipments used across the world. They are also rely on mass and gravity and can create resistance to help in muscle building.

Dumbbells and barbells are not however identical and they cannot replace the role of each other. Understanding the differences of Dumbbells vs. barbells helps you choose the right workout equipment that suits your needs.

Dumbbells vs Barbells
Dumbbells vs Barbells

Comparison between Dumbbells vs. Barbells

1.Strength Training Tools

Dumbbells are known to be free weights since they are mobile and can be moved more easily than barbells. They also can be used in a variety of moves in all muscles of the body. Dumbbells are used in pairs for easy weight balance.

dumbbells builds muscles in different ways, implementing a downward force that has weight to create strength required when lifting in diverse directions, another way is through your stability muscles that are worked as you keep the weigh in position while your body is in the right posture.

On the other hand, barbells are long, large and heavy than dumbbells. Due to this they are not mobile and less exercise is performed using the barbells. They were initially used by strong powerlifters in Olympic competitions to show how weight is lifted. The main purpose of the barbells as a strength equipment is to build size and providing comfort so that more weights can be added.

2.Strength and Muscle Imbalances

With a dumbbell in each hand you are sure that each side will lift equal amount of weight at the same time. However it is not common with barbells since the stronger side will take over the exercise at a given time without your knowledge. In case this happens often, it can lead to imbalances of strength and size. If you happen to realize that you have one side that is significantly stronger than the other, the best way to improve is by using dumbbells instead of barbells on your workouts.


Both dumbbells and barbells are good at muscle building and weight. However dumbbells are effective at building muscles on many parts of the body. Dumbbells work well as long as you find the right position to hold them and exercise. The effectiveness of building muscles with dumbbells may be limited in case you are not able to put more weight on the dumbbells used since some of your strength may be used to balance them on both sides so that they remain on the same level. When you try a bench press with the dumbbells you will realize that more effort is required to keep the dumbbells in a level while performing the movement.

Barbells on the other hand are effective on the exercises that they are used for. For instance, deadlift, clean presses, shoulder presses, squats and many more. The exercise emerge the best when it comes to muscle mass. Most bodybuilders are fond of using barbells as it allows them to perform the exercises effectively.

Barbells need balance and stability since the bar is long. Better positioning of the hands at the center of gravity, enables your hands to treat the barbell as a single piece of weight. People who have used barbells puts move heavier weights as compared to dumbbells thus making muscle building effective.

4.Natural Movement

When exercising with dumbbells, you can move each side effectively, this means that your body is not in a fixed position as it may be with barbells. This allows your body to make adjustments that it may need to ensure the movement is natural, safe and comfortable. The purpose of this is to prevent any injuries that may occur.

Barbells on the other hand, tend to bother the shoulders as they do not allow angle adjustments. However when the weight gets heavier barbells are easier to use than dumbbells.

Final Verdict

Like discussed above both dumbbells and barbells are effectively in the same way. However there are certain situations in which one exercise may be more ideal than the other. Therefore in those situations you should implement what has been discussed here to pick the exercise that suits you.

Most people start they exercise with dumbbells and later progresses with barbells. However you can get both if you have an adjustable set of dumbbells, buying barbells with similar width allows you to transfer the weight plates to the dumbbell through barbell bar.

However if your budget does not fit you can start with dumbbells since there are wider variety of exercises that you can do with them. Personal preference may also play a major role since some people like using either it more so with whatever reasons that they feel works better on their muscles.

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