Dumbbell Specific Exercises? Which Better Than Barbell Equivalent?

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    Dumbbell Specific Exercises? Which Better Than Barbell Equivalent?

    If we made a list of every possible exercise that existed and the “tool” used (DB, Barbell, machine, etc)

    Which exercises that are dumbbell based that outperform barbell or perhaps are only available with DB with no barbell equivalent?

    For example chest flies with DBs seems to lack a barbell equivalent based on the way you move your arm to perform the fly, I don’t think you can connect A bar between weights and have it work.

    Lateral raises with a barbell doesn’t seem possible. At least the side lateral raises.

    Chest Press versus Bench press. When I was younger people told me DB chest press is superior because it requires stabilizing the weights. But now it seems like people prefer bench press way more. Perhaps because people feel good about moving as much weight as possible, and you can load 400# on a barbell for bench press but probably can’t find big enough DBs to simulate that and would need a rack with custom DB stands to get in position probably.

    So which DB-based exercises are better than a barbell and which have no bar equivalent that you have to use DBs to do them?

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    My personal experience with dumbbells is they are better for at home use. They are also more versatile because you can do a massive amount of different types of exercises. They require your stabilization muscles to work more too. That being said...it all depends on your goals. If you are training to get massive, then you need a barbell thrown in there too. If you are fortunate enough to have both barbells and dumbbells, then that is awesome and probably best. I only have dumbbells and my disposal, so that is what I use.


      I think of hammer curls and dumbbell punches.


        Probably most of dumbbell exercises are better than it's machine or barbell alternative, but they also lack progression effectiveness on strength oriented routines. I will give you 3 personal examples. I'm on the 3rd week of a strength-only oriented program, that consists on 3 fullbody days.

        Example 1. I have lateral shoulder raises with dumbbells on day 1 and militar press with barbell on day 2. I have progressed on weight every week with the barbell exercise, but not a single Kg on the dumbbells one.
        Example 2. I have alternative biceps curl on day 1 and barbell biceps curl on day 3. Same result.
        Example 3. I have chest flies on day 1 and bench press on both days 2 and 3. Exact same thing.

        The reason is pretty simple, dumbbell exercises are a lot more isolated, and barbell exercises tend to use a lot more muscles than the one you are aiming for. Bench press uses back and shoulders instead of only chest, militar press uses the core and triceps instead of only shoulders...

        So.. are dumbbell exercises better than barbell exercises? Probably yes, but it highly depends and what you want. Isolated exercises will give you more strength on that isolated muscle, but the progression will be VERY slow. Also, if you don't do exercises that activates multiple muscles, you won't get real strength. Imagine biceps for example. If you do isolated dumbbell exercises you can grow your biceps a lot, but is that even going to be useful for anything at all? If you punch, the work is also on the hip and the shoulder, if you carry some bags, you are also using your core, triceps and forearm... and we could make an infinite list.

        If you want to work with dumbbells only, you need to design a routine that targets everything, but on the other hand, doing multiple-muscle exercises will get you further quicker. The isolated exercises are a "gym-lie". The human body works as a complete machine, and you won't ever do a single move that would use a single muscle.


          kutowoke ... hello, and Welcome to The Hive , the social side of DareBee.
          Sorry if you don't find a lot of weight-lifting expertise, here. That isn't our focus.
          But Cowtownbaldie made one excellent point when he said of dumbbells:
          they require your stabilization muscles to work more
          ​​​​​​​And JMed made a different - and relevant - point when he pointed out that:
          barbell exercises tend to use a lot more muscles than the one you are aiming for
          In essence, if you can only go with one, choose the dumbbells. But a mixture may be far better.

          Best of luck. ​​​​​​​