I hear barbells engage more of the upper body muscles as a whole as oppose to dumbbells where they focus more on biceps… Any truth to this? I rather buy these than a gym membership at this point.
Pros and Cons of Barbells:
- Best for heavy weight training
- Can add more weight to the bar
- Ideal if your goal is strength and mass
- Fixed range of motion
- Only way to progress is to add weight to the bar
- Lifting heavy weights dangerously compresses the joints
- Greater chance of injury
Pros and Cons of Dumbbell Training
- Cheaper to purchase then barbells
- Offers portability
- Greater versatility of workouts
- Difficult to add weight (unless dumbbells are adjustable)
- Still a chance of injury
Personally, I prefer dumbbells for home workouts. Even though you may not be able to build as much strength as you would with barbells, the versatility and the total number of exercises one can perform with dumbbells makes the a much better option.
There are, however other home resistance implements you should consider:
Bands are an underrated tool. If you purchase a set with adjustable handles, you will get up to 150 lbs of resistance.
In the package that I have, there is a 50lbs, 40lbs, 30lbs, 20lbs, and 10lbs weight. If you were to combine all 5 bands , attaching them to handles you would get 150 lbs of resistance.
What’s more, resistance bands are very cheap, running you $5-$15 per band, compared to a dumbbell which usually runs you a $1 per pound of weight. So if you were to purchase a 50lbs weight, then it will cost you $50.
Basic Bodyweight Training
Basic, old-school calisthenics can get you quite far in terms of improving your health, fitness, and strength levels. If done right, you can even build a decent amount of mass.
There are a number of great articles on this site which will help you:
Weight vs Stress
One thing that must be understood with any implement you choose is the idea of stress. Your body does not actually know how much weight is being lifted, but instead only feels the stress of the weight.
There are many ways of manipulating stress:
Extending a set means that you go beyond the normal set/rep scheme. In a typical workout you would perform the repetitions necessary, then rest. After the rest period you begin your next set.
For example, lets say the workout demands 10 repetitions of pushups, 3 total sets with 60 seconds of rest in between each set.
You would instead try to extend the set, by either adding another variation of the pushup, or adding a completely different exercise.
And extended set modification would then look something like this:
- Pushups x10 reps
- Incline Pushups x10 reps
- Rest 1 minute
You’ve just made your basic pushup workout harder.