Ever been in the gym and asked, “can you build muscle with only dumbbells?” Sure, dumbells have a lot of benefits. Can training with them alone create a good physique?

How often should you incorporate dumbbells into your training? Read below to find out.

Can You Build Muscle With Only Dumbbells?

Yes, dumbbells have many advantages over barbells and machine. However, if you want to break down the most muscle fibres possible, it is best to use all types of equipment.

Dumbells have many advantages over barbells and machines. Dumbells allow for a full range of motion, where a barbell would stop as it hits your legs or your chest. By training with one dumbell at a time, you can help balance out muscle groups. If you not that you’re left bicep is lacking and not as strong as the right one, you can train just your left with one dumbell. They also help build stabilizer muscles and strengthen the joints.

There is less chance of injury since dumbells aren’t as heavy as barbells. This isn’t to say they’re completely safe, just a little easier on your body and joints. Dumbbells also tend to place less strain on the wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Dumbells are also a lot more cost effective than any other equipment. So you can have a few pairs at your house and they don’t require you to go a gym. This can save a lot of time and money.

Even More Dumbbell Benefits

As far as safety, dumbbells are one of the safest ways to train. If you cannot get them up during your set, you can just drop them without hurting yourself. With a barebell you need a spotter to ensure that you don’t drop the bar on yourself. Dumbbells ensure safety while training alone, which is great if you train at home.

By having various weights of dumbbells, you can ensure both mechanical and metabolic overload of the muscles. When muscles are damaged by contracting, they then rebuild and grow bigger. This is called mechanical overload and is mainly accomplished with heavy weights.. Metabolic is when a muscle is worked to fatigue, which then allows them to store more glycogen, resulting in an increase in muscle size. This mainly occurs with light to moderately heavy weights as they allow more reps, leading to more muscle fatigue.

Dumbbells provide high levels of muscular activation as they cause intermuscular and intamuscular coordination. A number of different muscles working together to stabliize the joints is known as intermuscular coordination. Lighter dumbbells achieve this as they help stabilize joints. The amount of muscle motor units and their attached muscle fibres in a specific muscle is intramuscular. Heavier dumbbells will assist with this as they breakdown a lot of muscle fibers at once.

What Muscle Groups Can You Train With Dumbbells?

You can complete a full body workout with dumbells. Your chest can be trained by lying on a bench and doing dumbell press at varying inclines to hit different areas of the chest. You should bring them together and squeeze your chest at the top of the movement to fully contract your chest. When you lower back down, you should slowly let them go just outside your chest for a full stretch. Slowing your movement down and focusing on the contraction will always help with building muscle.

You biceps and triceps can be trained by standing and doing different types of curls. Dumbell skullcrushes or behind the head extensions are used to train triceps. Overhead dumbell presses, front raises, and side lateral raises can be done to train your shoulders. Use a weight that is light enough for you to use full range of motion and squeeze the targeted muscle group properly. If you are swinging the weights up using other body parts, you should reduce the weight of the dumbbells.

By bending over, your back can also be trained. You can either lay with your chest on a bench or have your back unsupported. Make sure your keep your chest out and squeeze your lats back when you row. Squeeze your shoulders back and brace your core. Keep your elbow close to your body while rowing. Ensure the weight light enough that you are not swinging or using momentum to prevent injury. Perform dumbbell shrugs with heavier dumbbells to target your traps.

You can also effectively train your legs using dumbbells. Many different variations of squats and lunges can be done. If the weight isn’t heavy enough compared to barbell squats, then try pause squats and increase the reps. Deadlifts using heavier dumbbells are also a great way to target the legs. In order to hit your calves you can do seated calf raises where you place the dumbbells on your knees. Make sure to squeeze your calves on the way up and do full range of motion. By pointing your toes inwards or outwards, you can hit different areas of the calf muscle. Want to increase the intensity of your ab training? Do your normal ab routine but with a dumbbell in your hands. This will leave your abs very sore and result in abodminal muscle growth. This can also help give your abs more of a blocky appearance.

Dumbbells can even provide a great forearm workout. If you want vasculuar looking forearms then try out some of these exercises. You can do standing or seated wrists curls. You just hold the dumbell in your hand and curl your wrists up toward your arm. This can be done with a pronated grip to target the top of your forearms or a supinated grip to target the bottoms.

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Remember to start with very low weight as your forearms are not very strong and do not need heavy weight to be worked. This can results in wrist injury. It’s more important to do high reps and squeeze the muscle properly.

Are Dumbbells All You Need?

While dumbbells provide many great benefits for your workout, it is always helpful to incorporate different training styles. Sure you can get a great workout that trains the entire muscle group, but why not add variety. Barbells allow you to add a lot of weight to compound exercises, training multiple body parts at once. Cables allow you to hit muscle fibres from different angles and keep constant tension on the targeted muscle group. If dumbbells are all you have access to, then you certainly can achieve your fitness goals by using them. However, if you have access to other equipment I would suggest using all of it. You may find that a certain machine hits your tricep in a way that the dumbbells just can’t.

Dumbells are usually great for isolating certain body parts after you’ve trained your compound movements. This allows you to further target and breakdown your muscles. What is your preffered way of training? How often do you add in dumbells? Let me know if you learned anything or have any suggestions!

4 Replies to “Can You Build Muscle With Only Dumbbells”

  1. I’ve been training with dumbbells for 40 years.
    I haven’t read anything like that in a long time, so it’s welcome.
    I first had small 2 Kg dumbbells. Then many, many years I trained with a 10 Kg dumbbell.
    Now every morning I do some exercises with a 10 Kg dumbbell.
    There is a lot of valuable information that I need to put into practice.
    Combine with gymnastics, knee bends, easy running and gymnastics.

    1. That’s awesome to hear. Very impressive that you have been training for that long, I’m sure you’ve noticed many benefits. Glad that this information was helpful to you and will give you some things to work on! Keep it up and good luck with your training.

  2. Personally, I prefer to work out with dumbbells because as you stated there is a lot more control with them and you can even up your sides. I started with very light dumbbells about 10 years ago and they have helped to keep my arms very strong and looking even. There are so many ways to exercise with them in total control.

    A great article, thanks.

    1. Yes, they definitely have a lot of benefits. That’s awesome how long you’ve been using them. I’m glad you’ve noticed a lot of benefits. Glad to help!

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