Most health clubs and gyms offer rows of cardio equipment, aisles of weight-training machines, stacks of free weights and specific stretch areas to help members pursue their individual goals.
When it comes to fitness equipment, there is no one “best” piece of equipment.
Different types of equipment are purposefully designed to achieve specific fitness outcomes.
Choices include the traditional weight machines, barbells or dumbbells, as well as a wide variety of specialized equipment such as kettlebells, medicine balls, sandbags and even oversized tires.
Dumbbells are often used for joint-isolation exercises such as biceps curls, chest flyes or shoulder raises.
Using dumbbells for full-body, multiplanar movements, however, can provide a variety of different strength outcomes.
It also offers many benefits for cardiorespiratory fitness and flexibility.
To help you select the best equipment for your needs, here are seven benefits of using dumbbells:
1. Dumbbells can provide the two types of overload that lead to muscle growth: mechanic and metabolic
Mechanic overload is the result of damaged caused by muscle contractions, which stimulates the repair process and leads to an increase in muscle size.
Metabolic overload occurs when a muscle is worked to fatigue. Which leads to the adaptation of muscle cells being able to store more glycogen which can cause muscles to increase in size.
Heavy dumbbells can generate mechanical overload, while moderate-weight dumbbells combined with high reps (to fatigue) can produce metabolic overload.
2. Dumbbell exercises can create both inter- and intramuscular coordination, leading to greater levels of muscle activation.
Intermuscular coordination is the ability of a number of different muscles to work together to produce and stabilize joint motion.
Intramuscular coordination is the amount of muscle motor units and their attached muscle fibers that are activated within a specific muscle.
Using lighter dumbbells for compound, multijoint or multiplanar movement patterns improves coordination between different body segments.
Using heavier dumbbells can increase the number of muscle fibers activated within a specific muscle.
3. Dumbbells can benefit both the contractile element and elastic component of muscle tissue.
The contractile element is the specific actin-myosin muscle proteins responsible for sliding across one another to create concentric shortening actions or control eccentric lengthening.
The elastic component is the fascia and connective tissue that attaches each individual muscle fiber and groups of fibers to one another.
The elastic component stores mechanic energy as it is lengthened, which is then released during a rapid muscle-shortening action.
Traditional exercises with heavy dumbbells can increase the force production capacity of the contractile element.
While multiplanar movement patterns with light dumbbells can enhance the resiliency and strength of the elastic component.
4. Dumbbells can be used for a variety of exercises.
Machines allow one motion in one specific movement pattern to place load on one muscle or muscle group.
Due to their length, standard barbells are best used for compound movements in one specific plane of motion.
Due to their size and the fact they can be held in each hand. Dumbbells can be used to create a variety of different movement patterns to develop task- or movement-specific strength.
5. Some exercises are safer when performed with dumbbells.
For example, if you’re doing reverse lunges with dumbbells and lose your balance, you can easily toss the dumbbells.
If, however, you were lunging with a barbell on your back and lost your balance, you could risk getting injured. (Note: this is the reason I recommend trainees perform barbell work inside a power rack with supports.
This way if you lose balance or something happens, you don’t get crushed by a barbell because the supports will catch it. But if you don’t have a power rack, this is an advantage for using dumbbells).
No exercise is entirely fool-proof. I’ve seen people injure themselves with dumbbell exercises too; this usually happens when someone uses too much weight or bad form.
However, if you train solo and don’t have the luxury of a power rack, you may want to use more dumbbell exercises.
6. Dumbbells let you focus more on a single body part
Dumbbells allow the user to focus on one arm or leg at a time, which is one way to initiate strength gains by using a heavy overload.
A single dumbbell can be used for exercises such as a one-arm overhead press or a split-leg goblet squat to create overload in one limb at a time.
7. Great for home-trainees who have limited space and equipment.
Dumbbells are fantastic for home trainers, you do not have to have the clutter of tons and tons of weights and bars everywhere.
You can still achieve an amazing workout, gain muscle and love the process.
With dumbbells you can set it up in your living room, garage or even get out in the garden and have an amazing outdoor workout.
What ever way you choose to workout make sure that dumbbells will be a vital part of your routine.