Dumbbells and Barbells: Pros and Cons of Each
When you work out in the gym, there are two key groups of weights: machines and free
weights. If you want to explore free weights, you have a lot of options, and two of the most
popular are dumbbells and barbells. Here we take a look at some of the key pros and cons
of both to help you decide which is the best option for your workout.
Barbells are the long straight bars with weights at each end – the sort of weights you see
being lifted in the Olympics. There are lots of types, from standard bars to deadlift bars to
Barbells are a great option if you want to focus primarily on gaining mass. You can lift more
with barbells because they don’t engage as many stabiliser muscles, so they make it easier
for you to lift heavier weights compared to dumbbells. As such, barbells are the best option
for building maximum strength and helping you to meet your strength goals.
Barbells also provide more stability when you are working out by evenly distributing the
One key disadvantage of barbells is that they can lead to muscle imbalances. Most of us
have one dominant side, and when you use barbells you may find that this side does more of
the work, so you don’t strengthen your weaker side as much as you might want to.
Another potential problem with barbells is the risk of overdoing it by adding too much load,
leading to injuries. Less flexibility also means you can end up in more uncomfortable
Dumbbells come in pairs, and each weight is held separately in one hand. They can be
fixed-weight or adjustable. There are lots of types of dumbbells, including square, round and
The range of motion with dumbbells is better than with barbells, meaning you can move your
arms with greater freedom. This can help you to work different muscles harder.
Dumbbells can also be used for unilateral movements where you ca