Dumbbell vs Barbell?

The battle of the titans

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Dumbbell of a barbell? What's better?!

It's a conversation I have a lot with different varieties of clients when it comes to exercise prescription and rehabilitation.

There are pros and cons for the use of both depending on what you want to achieve. A dumbbell will allow for a more “natural” movement in comparison to a barbell. Its common to hear clients ask why using a dumbbell doesn't cause pain whereas a barbell does? This is because there is slightly more room for manoeuvre during the pushing phase. But if you do experience pain with the use of either, contact your clinician for advice.

The single arm element of a dumbbell chest press, for example, will require more stability through the shoulder, elbow and wrist in comparison to a bench press with a barbell.

I'd prefer to keep my clients to the use of dumbbells initially as it can help to improve muscle imbalances L Vs R. Sometimes you'll find yourself using your dominant side more with the use or barbells.

HOWEVER, the use of barbells obviously has its place in the gym. They're a lot easier to control when it comes to lifting heavier weights when you're looking to increase maximal power output and when it comes to progressions during rehab it can often be easier to coach a technique with a barbell.

The moral of the story is...DON’T USE MACHINES!


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