Dumbbells vs Barbells | What's better?

The most effective way to build both strength and muscle is to do training with free weights. Now, to be very clear, when people say ‘free weights’, they are usually considering both barbell and dumbbell exercises. But, are dumbbells better than barbells, or probably a little of both is more effective?

The dumbbells vs. barbells debate has been around for years. Lots of guys prefer one over another and that is completely fine. Every type of equipment has its role to take you nearer to your fitness goals.

Whether you exercise at home or a gym, eventually, you will possibly need to decide training with barbells or dumbbells. Perhaps, it is a chest day, or it is an arm day, and you have to choose between dumbbells and barbells. You have overheard every debate around this topic so without any delay let's have another debate!

Range of motion (ROM)

When it comes to body-building, range of motion is one of the crucial factors. Range of motion refers to the overall distance traveled by the weight from the beginning to the ending position. Previously, the accord was that the range of motion should be restricted to 90 degrees for workouts like the shoulder press, bench press, squats, dips etc. But today, we all know that this is just not the matter, as exercising in a complete range of motion will not only save you from injury but it is also considerably more effective for building size and strength. As long as wounds are concerned, training to 90 degrees can be riskier.

Barbells by default allow for less ROM (range of motion) and dumbbells allow for a deeper contraction and stretch for many exercises. Dumbbells will not only assure a deeper ROM on the way down, but you can also take the dumbbells combined at the top which provides you a better contraction. As the dumbbells become heavier and heavier, they also get voluminous and blockier which may limit the ROM. This point goes for dumbbells.

Maximum weight

According to tested statistics, the majority of people become 20% stronger when they are using barbells for the same exercise and many people find barbells easier to progress rather than dumbbells. Barbells allow you to lift hefty weights because you do not need to be concerned about the stability of weight as you are using 2 hands to move one weight.

Muscle gain is closely linked to strength gain. The stronger you become on an exercise, the faster your muscles will get bigger. Lifting volume is surely important, but becoming stronger must be your first goal when you are exercising for size. Finally, 1RM attempts with dumbbells are nearly not possible and imprudent. You are a lot more comfortable using a barbell and a spotter to be safe while testing your strength. So this point goes for barbells.


You will see various exercises i.e. power cleans, snatches, even deadlifts and squats can not probably be done with dumbbells because they need a definite explosiveness that cannot be obtained with dumbbells. It is possible to carry out dumbbell squats, but normally it is not recommended because you will not be proficient to handle any considerate amount of weight or to produce a very explosive force. Thus, this is the positive point for barbells

Easier on the joints

If you have any issue related to joint mobility or you have any recent injuries, then dumbbells are more superior than barbells and they are the key to the prevention of injury. So this point goes for dumbbells.

Less chance of injury

Everything in life can be harmful if it is not done properly. When it comes to body-building, the person who remains free of any harm generally finishes with more gains. If you get injured, you can not exercise so you need to avoid them from ever happening.

For advanced lifters, dumbbells can be more safer, because beginners usually handle quite lighter weights and they can effortlessly drop the dumbbells to the ground when they get blocked, but you cannot do it with a barbell. Because getting trapped under a barbell can be pretty dangerous especially when there is no one around you to help.

Final Ruling - Which is better?

Are you expecting a straight answer? Sorry, but here, you are not going to get one! In the combat between dumbbells vs. barbells, it is secure to say both of these fitness tools are productive.

If you want more functionality and strength, possibly barbells will be your best mate, but if your focus is towards building size and mass, then dumbbells are normally best.

Overall, you need both in your lifting program. Whatever fitness equipment you choose, and whichever exercise you decide to do, before you start lifting, you always need to pause for a minute or two to get your mind right.