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Bodybuilding: How To Build Muscles With Dumbbells

Updated on October 31, 2011

Dumbbells can be an effective way to build muscle. While you usually can not go as heavy when using dumbbells like you can with barbells, they have their own unique benefits. Dumbbells are generally easier to handle and take up less space than barbells. You can actually buy adjustable dumbbells that let you choose how much weight you want to put on them.

How To Build Muscle With Dumbbells

There are many exercises where dumbbells can be utilized. You can perform dumbbell shoulder presses, dumbbell bench press, dumbbell bicep curls, dumbbell rows, dumbbell squats, and much more. The nice thing about using dumbbells is that you don't have to worry about getting stuck underneath the weight. For example, if you are bench pressing with a barbell and can not press the weight up, then you are stuck. If you are performing a dumbbell bench press, you do not have to worry about getting stuck because you can simply drop the dumbbells on the floor.

Here are some compound exercises that can be done to build muscle using Dumbbells

  • Dumbbell Bench Press for chest muscles
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Presses for developing strong shoulder muscles
  • Dumbbell Squats for legs (mainly focuses on quad muscles)
  • Dumbbell Stiff-legged Deadlifts for lower back and hamstring muscles

Changing exercise routine (Essential For Bodybuilding)

Sometimes it is important to use dumbbells instead of barbells because dumbbells work on the stabilizing muscles more. For instance, some people have a stronger right or left side when doing bench press or other pressing exercises. Switching to dumbbells will help build stabilizer muscles and may even help you become stronger when you switch back to barbells.

Dumbbells also generally place less stress on shoulders so changing your exercise regimen may be a good idea to keep shoulders in good condition. The main reason why dumbbells place less stress on the shoulders is because you have free movement with each arm. Unlike barbells where you are in a more "fixed position."

Building Muscle With Dumbbells

Dumbbells are also useful for isolation exercises. An isolation exercise targets specific muscle groups better than compound movements. Dumbbells are absolutely essential if you want to build up the smaller muscles of the body.

Examples of Isolation exercises you can do with Dumbbells:

  • Bicep Curls
  • Rear Delt Flys
  • Dumbbell Preacher Curls (focuses on biceps more than standard curls)
  • Lateral Raises
  • Tricep Extensions (One hand or Two Hand)

Dumbbells are great for bodybuilding and anyone who just wants to stay fit. Incorporating dumbbell exercises into your workouts may help you break through muscle plateaus or correct muscle imbalances, such as the right arm being stronger than the left or vice-versa.


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    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 6 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Great hub David. It's great to mix up your workouts and dumbbells offer more flexibility and range of movement for many exercises. They also seem to better for development of many core stabilising muscles which has a great impact on sporting performance