Dumbbells and Barbells: Timeless Muscle Building Classics
What are Dumbbell and Barbells?
Dumbbells and barbells are what we call “free weight” equipment; they can be lifted from the ground, used on specialised equipment like racks, and even be carried from one place to another, separating them from conventional machine equipment. This gives free weights a unique advantage in its versatility, making them more useful for improving your fitness in limited equipment scenarios, such as when you are travelling or in a home gym.
The dumbbell and barbell still hold a reputation as quintessential pieces of gym equipment in this day and age, despite the many developments in the fitness tech space. Other pieces of gym equipment hold their many unique benefits; machines enable users to best target specific muscles and/or movements, while functional tools allow users to replicate unconventional training scenarios. Free weights only have gravity to work with, so what makes it so timeless that almost every gym has a rack of dumbbells?
A history of Dumbbells and Barbells
Dumbbells and barbells have been used since the 1800s, in fact, before attaining the fixed weight or plate-loaded form we see nowadays, did you know that barbells had ends that constituted large metal globes or spheres that were loaded with sand or lead? Nowadays, the modern barbells and dumbbells such as the ones that we see in The Gym Pod have been optimised for comfort and a great lifting experience!
Unique advantages of Dumbbells and Barbells
Dumbbells were designed to have lower loads and individually hand-held, whereas barbells were designed to have heavy, modifiable loads and held with both hands for the most part. Here are 3 unique advantages for each:
Dumbbells – not a dumb invention
- Range of Motion
Dumbbells tend to facilitate exercises with greater range of motion, as the length of a barbell tends to work against itself on many exercises, such as the bench press and row exercises.
- More Exercise Variations
Dumbbells tend to offer more variations of an exercise due to their one handed nature, whereby their positioning can be adjusted to a far greater extent. The neutral grip cannot be produced on a normal barbell unless modifications are made to it, but is easily available on the dumbbell.
- Compactability- Dumbbells are highly compact and their versatility compared to barbells stem from that; in very small space scenarios, dumbbells can be used to produce a full workout, such as in a bedroom.
Barbells – Raising the bar
- Maximising strength training
While the principle of Specificity is important, so is being able to load heavily for strength training. Barbells facilitate maximal loading, making it more ideal for strength training compared to dumbbells. It’s hard to find a 50kg dumbbell for a row, but two 20 kg plates a side and you have the barbell equivalent.
- Loading intervals
Barbells and barbell exercises were designed around plate-loading rather than the fixed loading of dumbbells. While some gyms may see a dumbbell rack with 1 kg increments, barbells can be loaded with as little as 0.5kg plates to replicate this even at super heavy loads, like 200 kg to an incredible 201 kg! Not only that, you only need one barbell for the most part. Between chope-ing the whole rack of dumbbells or having a kitchen worth of plates, most gyms prefer the latter as dumbbells are limited shared equipment with specific fixed loads.
- Unique variations
Okay, dumbbells have more exercise variations, but the length of the bar creates unique ground based variations for barbell exercises. Landmine exercises, whereby one end of the barbell is pivoted on the ground, create unique setups for exercises that can create standalone training experiences; look no further than the T-bar row and the landmine press.
Make a complete workout with both!
It’s rarely ever a case of Barbells OR Dumbbells! It’s not a fight, instead, use both pieces of equipment to leverage their strengths on the exercise variations that cater to your goals. Gym Pod gyms are equipped with both Barbells and Dumbbells for you to embrace a complete workout, maximising your time and effort spent in the gym and rewarding you with the sweet gains that come afterwards.
Looking to have a private, personal AND complete workout? Drop by a Gym Pod and book a session with our personal trainers!