There are many resistance options you can train with. Find out the benefits that dumbbells offer to see whether they are right for you.
These positive points range from the more important benefits of strength training to more specific aspects you often don’t get from dumbbell alternatives.
1. Dumbbells can help you grow muscles
There is a reason so many of those people going to the gym have bigger muscles than usual.
To grow and strengthen muscles you have to work them with enough weight (and repetitions).
Bodyweight exercises can help a nice amount with this too. Especially for weaker muscles.
However, as you get stronger, you will need to start using external resistance to keep seeing progress in certain muscles. This is where dumbbells can benefit you a lot.
By holding dumbbells, you can make a variety of upper body and even lower body muscles work harder. In turn, this can increase the amount and speed of your resistance training results.
2. Dumbbells can benefit weight loss
Losing weight requires you to use up more energy than is coming in from food sources. There are many ways to approach this but dumbbells can help in a few ways.
First of all, increasing the weight your body has to move in certain exercises will increase your energy consumption per repetition.
Additionally, by using dumbbells at the right points of your training journey, you can build more muscle mass.
This benefits weight loss because how much you weigh plays a big role in how many calories you burn.
By building muscle mass with dumbbells, you burn more calories not only during your workouts but the rest of your day too.
You can likely hit your weight loss goals with other weights too but consistently using this toning fitness equipment option in the right ways does make a positive difference in your results.
One thing to note is that lifestyle habits like your diet are still important. If you do not see results from dumbbell workouts you may need to take another look at these.
3. Dumbbells work more stabilization muscles
In certain types of resistance training, for example chest gym machines like a machine chest press, your arms go through a fixed range of motion.
This is not necessarily always bad but it does reduce to what extent you work a variety of smaller stabilization muscles around your shoulders.
On the other hand, since they are one-handed weights, dumbbells work these stabilization muscles a lot. Even more than something like a barbell.
This can be beneficial in the sense that training these stabilization muscles tends to be helpful for reducing injury risk.
At the same time, it is worth mentioning that this can also be a disadvantage of dumbbells for people who only want to work their biggest muscle groups.
4. Dumbbells can be safer to use alone
This next benefit mostly applies to the comparison between dumbbell and barbell chest exercises but it is worth briefly mentioning.
The bench press is a popular exercise where you raise and lower weights above your chest. This movement is typically done with a barbell.
However, a potential issue with the barbell bench press is if you fatigue your muscles, you do not really have a way of getting out from under the bar.
For this reason, you often ask the help of a spotter in your heavy bench press sets.
On the flip side, you don’t really have this issue with dumbbell bench presses. It is a lot easier to just sit up with the dumbbells in your hands or even drop the weights beside you if needed.
5. Dumbbells can improve your bone density
Similar to many other body parts your bones can actually adapt themselves to the way you work them.
More specifically, pressuring your bones with exercises and heavy weights can improve their density (1, 2, 3).
Doing this can reduce your risk of breaking your bones.
Younger individuals likely do not worry too much about this yet. However, it can still be worth paying attention to right now because it tends to be harder to improve bone density later in life.
Dumbbells are definitely not the only pieces of fitness equipment that help with this. However, it is still a valuable benefit of these tools.
6. Dumbbells allow you to twist your wrists
Two details that are relatively unique to dumbbells are that they are relatively compact and that their weight distribution is symmetrical.
First of all, this opens the door to more unique exercises like the Zottman curl where you twist your wrists throughout the movement.
There are not many other equipment options you can use for this exercise.
Secondly, the details above allow you to keep your wrists in more comfortable angles during certain exercises.
For example, dumbbell tricep exercises like tricep extensions tend to be more pleasant to do than the barbell version.
Not everyone will care equally about these things but for some workout routines, the differences can be valuable.
7. Dumbbells last a long time
Certain pieces of fitness equipment like resistance bands can break down over time. This influences how often you have to spend time and money on new workout tools.
On the other hand, dumbbells tend to last a very long time. Potentially even decades.
Additionally, they tend to keep their value which means you can sell them at a good price if you decide you don’t need the dumbbells anymore.
One disadvantage of dumbbells is that they do require a good initial investment. Especially if you get an entire set instead of an adjustable model.
8. Dumbbells make your workouts more time-efficient
Resistance training workouts can be relatively time-efficient in the sense that you just have to work your muscles enough to start repair and growth processes.
You still have to spend some time doing exercises but this can go relatively quickly. Especially with the extra weight from a good pair of dumbbells.
For example, a workout of dumbbell shoulder exercises like a shoulder press can only take 3 sets of 12 repetitions with 2 minutes of rest in between each set.
9. Dumbbells help you avoid muscle asymmetries
When working two sides at the same time like in many barbell exercises and gym machines, it is possible to use the muscles on one side more than the other.
If you do this, you also train these muscles to different extents which can lead to muscle imbalances.
In turn, these muscle imbalances can lead to injuries and visuals that look off.
Luckily, you can avoid this in many upper body exercises by using dumbbells instead of two-handed weights.
This benefit also makes dumbbells a good equipment option for resolving certain muscle imbalances.
10. Dumbbells can increase your range of motion
Your range of motion in an exercise is basically how far your body parts can move.
This is a relevant detail because working your muscles in a larger range of motion is typically more effective for muscle growth and strength progress.
Other equipment options like for example barbells tend to limit your range of motion slightly in exercises like the bench presses and bent-over rows.
On the flip side, the dumbbell versions of these exercises allow you to move just a bit farther. This can offer slightly more results.
11. Dumbbells are versatile
The next benefit definitely applies to many dumbbell alternatives too but it is worth mentioning that you can use this piece of equipment for a variety of exercises.
This is mainly useful for people who are choosing the next piece of fitness equipment for their home gyms. Investing in something like a pair of adjustable dumbbells opens the door to working many muscles.
One thing to note is that you can benefit from lifting straps or pads in certain heavy dumbbell compound exercises.
Without these, your forearm grip muscles may fatigue before the main target muscles of the movements.
Frequently asked questions
Is it OK to use dumbbells every day?
If your goal is to build more and stronger muscles it is OK to use dumbbells every day as long as you target different muscle groups on different days. After a good dumbbell workout, the muscle group you targeted likely needs a day or more of rest to repair.
Are dumbbells effective?
Dumbbells can be extremely effective for goals like building muscle, losing weight, and getting healthier when you use them right. Do not forget to supplement any dumbbell workout program with the right nutrition and enough sleep.
Do dumbbells burn belly fat?
The order of areas where you lose fat is generally not that easy to influence. Dumbbells can help you burn belly fat but only because they can help you lose body fat in general.
Can dumbbells build muscle?
Dumbbells of the right weight in combination with the right exercises, good nutrition, and other good lifestyle habits can definitely help you build muscle.