Weight lifting is argued to be the best form of exercise for losing weight and toning muscle. This entitlement begs the question, which is better, the barbell or dumbbell?

Effortlessly tossing around heavyweight in a seamless motion for a killer full-body workout, the barbell brings a sense of ease, sophistication, and superiority to your workout. On the other hand, dumbbells offer versatility and a challenging workout using less. 

The Simplicity of the Dumbbell

A pair of dumbbells look humble when compared to the hardcore barbell deadlift. However, it is in its simplicity why dumbbells are the best for your body.

The number one rule in weight lifting is good form. Proper technique is crucial when weight lifting to protect your joints, activated muscles, and all that connects the two. The Mayo Clinic discusses risks associated with the increase of poor technique seen in weight training with heavyweights. The disadvantages of weight lifting with the barbell result from the heavyweights used and complexity in the motions. Any error can lead to a variety of painful injuries like strained muscles, sprains, and fractures.


Advantages of Dumbbells

Weight lifting is argued to be the best form of exercise. The full-body workout burns calories fast, dropping fat while simultaneously building muscle. A dumbbell workout offers multiple advantages that a barbell workout lacks. In addition to being safer, less intimidating, and easier to use, dumbbells provide isolation, stability, and balance.

How Less Weight Is More

As mentioned earlier, technique is crucial to weight lifting. Dumbbells are great for those new to the weight room. Starting as light as one pound, you can experiment with your ability and ease into the realm of weight lifting.

The distribution of weight in dumbbells makes it much harder to control and lift heavier weights. This does not mean the workout is any less efficient. Instead, the compact design of dumbbells isolate the targeted muscle group, yielding satisfactory results with reduced significance in form.


In an article from the Current Sports Medicine Reports, core stability claims the title of the centerpiece of any training program. Further emphasis on the positive implications gained from instability resistance training draws attention to its extended health benefits. On top of injury prevention, stability exercises help to develop deep muscular strength through slow controlled movements, improving muscular endurance, coordination, and function.


Imagine only working out only your right bicep and never the left. In everyday life, we tend to perform mundane activities solely utilizing our dominant half. Interestingly, it isn’t even our fault. The American Chiropractic Association reveals that the majority of everyday actions are asymmetrical. From carrying in groceries, washing dishes, and brushing teeth to seemingly symmetrical activities such as walking and biking, you gradually strengthen one half of your body more than the other.

Muscle imbalance

Lifelong continuation of asymmetrical movement can progress into noticeable inequalities in muscular strength. The American Chiropractic Association discusses the importance of symmetrical weightlifting associated with spinal health. Training with an equal distribution of weight can effectively counteract these subtle yet frequent discrepancies.

Enforcement of equal weight distribution when lifting can prove to be challenging when benching or deadlifting with a barbell. The crossbody connection often favors one side, potentially worsening any pre-existing bilateral strength inequalities. Dumbbells, on the other hand, make it virtually impossible to work one side more than the other. 

Performing any weight lifting exercise with a pair of dumbbells ensures the equal distribution of weight for a balanced workout. Not only will this prevent worsening conditions, but also correct any asymmetry.

Dumbbell Exercises

Dumbbells offer an endless list of exercises, each with multiple variations for any skill level or goal. Easily accessible, you can perform these anywhere with a single dumbbell. Additionally, incorporating both single-sided actions and bilateral exercises, you can engage in an intense full-body workout while blasting your core. 

Dumbbell Row

This move activates muscles in your upper and lower back as well as your arms. Positioned leaning forward with arm extended, bring the weights into your chest for a tough back workout

Proper form for a dumbbell row

Overhead Shoulder Press

Performed standing up or while seated this exercise targets the arms, shoulders, chest, and upper back. Standing activates the core, requiring more strength and stability, whereas sitting targets solely the shoulders. 

Example of a good over the shoulder press

Farmers Walk

This exercise looks easy yet activates the entire body leaving your muscles burning. All you have to do is grab two dumbbells and walk across the room. Posture is key to good form. This exercise targets your shoulders, triceps, forearms, upper back, quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and core. 

Farmers walk with dumbbells

When planning your next workout, replace any crossbody weights with some dumbbells, and see how you feel. You may notice yourself standing a little taller, or at least more evenly in the mirror.

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