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John de la Garza 04-19-2007 08:40 PM

I know there are advantages to using dumbells. What are the advantages of doing say overhead press with a barbell over dumbells?

I'm trying to set up a basic workout for my dad. I want the least amount of equipment but with out compromising the quality of his workout at all.

Bill Ripley 04-20-2007 05:12 AM

No advantages IMO, just different animals. DB workouts are great for people who want a minimum of equipment to fool with.

Leah Turner 04-20-2007 05:18 AM

But if one tends to go weaker w/ their left arm, for example w/ the chest press, then using dumbbells won't allow that, as one can cheat w/ a barbell.

Graham Tidey 04-20-2007 07:12 AM

Yeah, you get a little more wobble with dumbells, which mean the stabiliser muscles kick in.

Also, it's one more thing to potentially hit you in the head.

Cal Jones 04-20-2007 08:24 AM

On the plus side, you can't get stuck under 'em. :-)

William Hunter 04-20-2007 08:48 AM

A major advantage of the BB is that you can use more weight, and stimulate more muscle tissue.

If there is a history of shoulder problems he may benefit from the unilateral aspect of DB's.

Matt DeMinico 04-20-2007 01:34 PM

The PT I regularly see (who is REALLY good by the way) is very leery about barbell workouts if they can be subbed with dumbbells. Basically, barbell workouts prohibit the natural rotation in your shoulders and back when you go to do a movement.

Try this: Try doing a 45-lb (barbell) press. Now, do the same thing, except take two 20-lb dumbbells, and press them one at a time. Notice the difference in how you move your shoulders and back, there should be some natural shifting of weight, rotating, etc.

I've run into shoulder issues doing barbell exercises, and she suggested just using dumbbells. Now, maybe you can get away with using a barbell, or even using two dumbbells at the same time, but for me, I try to avoid those, and do them sparingly, and make SURE as heck that I do them with the proper movement (keeping my shoulders pressed BACK) to prevent the rotator cuff and tendons from being injured.

John de la Garza 04-20-2007 03:49 PM

I value not get hurt over functional fitness, but in real life I come across times where I lift things that represent a barbell more than dumbells.

It also, seems that doing a press with a barbell uses my triceps more.

Blair Robert Lowe 04-20-2007 07:34 PM

Dumbbell OHS squat with DB at OHS bar distance really suck. It's cake with a bar holding it up there.
I say go DB. Every exercise is tougher with DB than a BB.

Thomas Grippo 04-21-2007 02:22 PM

....if you're a "motor moron" the bb (closed chain-fixed distally) may be a better option.I think Matt also makes a good point.

Wayne Nelson 04-25-2007 09:54 AM

For most people, we move and lift with our hands and arms in different positions from each other or single handed. The barbell represents a situation most people perform only rarely. If you want to get better at lifting barbells then lift barbells. If your goal is more functionally oriented then replicate those movements.

Using DBs requires more dynamic stabilization, decreases compensation for strength imbalances, and alows you to create exercises that tend to be more multi-planar in nature. Using DBs one-sided (one hand) increases the core requirements, which can be increased more by performing the same exercise standing on one leg or a labile surface like a rockerboard or BOSU.

BTW: Closed chain is where the hands are fixed and the body moves above as in push-ups and pull-ups. Open chain is where the hands (or feet) are free to move as in lifts, and kicking a ball. The upper body functions mainly in open chain movements and the lower body in closed chain.

Franklin Shogie 04-25-2007 10:46 AM

what is the scaling ratio between dumbbells and barbells?

if you press, say, 135lb with a barbell what would be the comparable dumbbell weight?

I know that it is not 135/2= 67lb

Tim McFarland 04-25-2007 12:54 PM

Don't forget about 1-handed barbell moves; get-ups are MUCH harder this way.

Just sayin'.

Cal Jones 04-26-2007 02:07 AM

Well, unless you have a spotter, dumbells are a lot harder for things like shoulder or bench/incline bench press since you have to get them off the floor rather than lift them off a rack.
I blew my own rotator cuff out doing too many heavy benches in my early 20s, so have to stick to inclines or declines now. I usually use dumbells. Although I can press 20kgs dumbells, I find them difficult to get into position initially, so tend to use 18kgs.
For Linda, I did use a barbell on the incline bench within the squat rack. A 40kg bar was a fair bit easier to shift than two 18kg dumbells, even though I kept bashing the rack pins with the bar.
Just give it a try and see how it goes.

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