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Barbells Vs Dumbbells: Which is Better for Muscle Growth and Strength

In this article we are going to discuss the difference between barbell and dumbbell as an workout equipment. Free weights exercises play a major role in maximizing muscle growth and strength. And it further comes down to two forms of free weights; barbell and dumbbells.

Barbell Benefits


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There are three main mechanisms involved in muscle growth: Mechanical tension, Metabolic Stress, and Muscle Damage. Of the three, mechanical tension is believed to be the primary driver of muscle growth, This mechanical tension can be maximized by performing heavy compound exercises and increasing the strength over time.

Best barbell set 2019Barbells maximize mechanical tension to a larger extent when compared to dumbbells. This is because, more weight can be lifted with barbells when compared to dumbbells, as it requires less stabilization than dumbbells.

Also, progressive overload with barbells is more efficient than with dumbbells. As barbell is supported by two hands, the stabilization of the weight becomes easy. Barbell exercises generate more explosiveness when compared to dumbbells. Many of the compound movements like squats, power cleans, snatches, deadlifts, military press, etc, are suggested to perform using a bar, rather than dumbbells, as they can be more explosive when done with a bar.

For example, it literally makes no sense to squat with heavy weight dumbbells on your shoulders. Lifters are stronger when they are lifting with a barbell rather than dumbbells because of the stabilizing factor. All the 1RMs (one rep max) are tested with barbells.

Dumbbells Benefits

Best adjustable dumbbells reviews 2019Using dumbbells can help in increased target muscle activation, which helps in muscle growth. Dumbbells helps to move the weights in a natural path, which is comfortable for the individual, depending on the body structure, which is not possible in case of barbell exercises, as they have a restricted path to be followed.

Dumbbells helps in minimizing muscle imbalances. Everyone has a dominant side and the weaker side can be strengthened and improved with the help of unilateral exercises, which is possible with dumbbells.

Best dumbbells Reviews 2019Dumbbells have a good range of motion, which barbells lack. They don’t force your joints to move in the unnatural path. In case of injuries or joint mobility issues, dumbbells exercises are safer and effective than barbells.

When it comes to the experience of the lifter, dumbbells are beneficial and safer for beginners, as they can start with light weights, and the weights can be easily dropped on the floor easily when they cannot take the load, which is not possible with a bar. Advanced lifters find barbells beneficial, as they are more efficient than dumbbells in progressive overloading.

Barbells Vs Dumbbells: Which is Better for Muscle Growth and Strength

Considering all the above factors, neither of them can be considered superior to the other. A mix of both barbell and dumbbells exercises will optimize muscle growth and helps in increasing strength.

Dumbbells helps in muscle growth by prioritizing the target muscle activation and barbell exercises help in increasing the strength by helping in producing mechanical tension and by stabilizing the joints during progressive overload.

Incorporating heavyweight compound movements with the barbell first, with low rep range and then adding dumbbells exercises with high rep range can actually improve the workout quality.