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Dumbbells vs Barbells

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  • Dumbbells vs Barbells

    I just started weightlighting this year. I have lost a significant amount of weight (about 60 pounds in 6 months) and I'm at a comfortable weight. So my focus now is to increase muscle mass.

    I lift 4 times a week working a different body part every day (chest, back, shoulders, arms). I use mainly dumbbells and machines for my excercises and have not done any full body lifts using barbells (squats, deadlifts, bench presses) mainly because I don't know the proper form and I'm afraid of injury.

    I know to build up muscle mass quicker, full body exercises with barbells would be more effective. I certaibly have much more definition and am seeing muscles I've never seen before. But people think I'm too skinny now and I would like to increase not only muscle definition, but muscle mass.

    Do I really need to incorporate full body lifts with a barbell or can I achieve similar results doing the routine I'm doing and making sure I get enough protein?

  • #2
    I'd say you need to have some type of lower-body lift instead of upper-body 4 days a week. Otherwise you'll look like an upside-down triangle! I guess you could do lunge variations with the dumbbells, but really, I think it would pay off to learn proper squat and deadlift form. There are some instructional videos on youtube. I think as long as you start light and progress slowly, you should be fine.

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    • #3
      I should really do legs one day, but my legs are already fairly musclular and I usually run 2 miles 3 days a week with some sprints mixed in. My focus is continuing to define and build muscle mass in my upper body. I know there are videos on proper technique but I'm still concerned I won't have proper form.

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      • #4
        Look in the mirror when you do the exercice. Notice how it feels like when you do it right, and then when you add weights remember your form (or continue to look in a mirror)

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        • #5
          barbell vs dumbell vs machine vs bodyweight means little
          doing a decent full body routine of heavy compounds would help a lot
          what you're doing is half of a lousy bodybuilding program(at least for drug free beginners)

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          • #6
            Doesn't Starting Strength have form instructions?

            Do some research on jailhouse muscle. Some big muscles have been built without barbells. Not functional muscles, but they look good.

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            • #7
              5x5

              Compounds are the way to go for strength/size. Although, a lot of size comes from diet. I disagree with the "barbell, dumbbell, machine wight" no difference comment. Using free weight forces your body to stabilize the weight i.e. squat with a smith machine and then squat with a barbell; you'll notice the difference. Machines balance the weight for you.

              Start with just the bar at first (squat, deadlift, bench, rows, overhead press) and concentrate on form. Form is the most important. Nail that down and then add weight slowly.

              Check out this website for a great starting 5x5 routine. It's based on Rippetoe's Starting Strength. If you sign up for free, you can D/L a nice excel spreadsheet to track your progress.

              StrongLifts.com: Gain Strength And Muscle While Losing Fat
              "The problem with quoting someone on the Internet is, you never know if it's legit" - Abraham Lincoln

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              • #8
                Work with what you've got. Gymnasts have amazing physiques and strength, but it definitely takes dedication to progress at the same pace as with weights. It's hard to hit the same leverage with bodyweight exercises each time you do your workouts; not so much with weights.

                I've worked with dumbbells for a few years. They're good for balancing out muscle, but there's no doubt that for especially leg work, barbells are superior.
                DBs also have the disadvantage of being hard to micro manage load wise; the DBs I have access to have jumps in the 2-3kg weight difference, which is quite a lot. Take benching; I can do 2 reps at 25kg, but 6 reps at 22kg. I'd prefer to be able to do 3-5 reps, but I can't adjust the DBs.

                A good thing about DBs is they're easier to handle; sorta. With heavy loads, you don't risk as much damage if you fail. Say you fail to squat X kg at bottom position of a squat; DBs are way easier to "get rid of" without risking having the load fall over you.

                And 1-arm DB snatches just rock. My problem now is that they don't have DBs going higher than 30kg, which is where I'm at now... May have to switch to a BB...

                I'm blabbering, but in the end, resistance is resistance, whether is comes from iron or your own bodyweight. That's pretty much a quote from Ross Enamait - and that dude's a BEAST!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mick812 View Post
                  I should really do legs one day, but my legs are already fairly musclular and I usually run 2 miles 3 days a week with some sprints mixed in. My focus is continuing to define and build muscle mass in my upper body. I know there are videos on proper technique but I'm still concerned I won't have proper form.
                  Even if you're set on upper body only and no barbells a 4-way split on upper is almost certainly mostly wasted effort.

                  Sample:
                  chest press machine
                  db press
                  tricep pressdown or dip

                  pulldown
                  db 1-arm row
                  db curl or chin

                  for 3*8 or so. progressively upping the weights
                  3 times a week until it feels like overtraining
                  then twice/wk or split it and alterante on 3 days/wk

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by RezH View Post
                    Doesn't Starting Strength have form instructions?
                    Ok I didn’t read every post. But RezH is correct that Starting Strength “the book” is a great tutorial for the main lifts (Squat, Bench, Press, Power Clean & Dead lift). You don’t need to follow the program if you don’t want but the book is a great way to learn.
                    Last edited by kepo; 07-28-2011, 01:08 PM. Reason: error

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