Ask a Trainer: Are Dumbbells Good For Home Workouts?

Ask a Trainer: Are Dumbbells Good For Home Workouts? 2

Short answer – Yes.

Keep reading to find out why or jump to our full-body dumbbell workout or guide to the best types of dumbbells.

Challenges of Working Out with Dumbbells

Dumbbells are one of the most versatile pieces of home gym equipment but they do present some challenges.

When we understand them, we can build around them to get a better home workout.

Lower Weight

The challenge of dumbbells is that they’re less stable by themselves than a barbell. Using one hand per weight means you have to stabilize it more actively, which does two things:

  1. It reduces the amount that you can lift with dumbbells
  2. It improves the training of stabilizer muscles

These make for a different type of training than barbells.

It has pros and cons – but the main one is using less load. This means dumbbells will usually suit higher-rep and bodybuilding training rather than maximum strength.

These generally mean that we’re going to look for lower-weight exercises that challenge us elsewhere. This makes dumbbells better for things like single-leg exercises, where you probably don’t need 100s of lbs to make it work.

Limited Options

The adjustability of dumbbells can also be difficult. For most types of dumbbells, the weight is fixed on with bolts or molded plastic. 

It’s not easy to change the weight on these dumbbells, unlike a barbell which is designed to be adjusted.

Adjustable dumbbells can be a fantastic investment, but if you haven’t got them, then you need to be conscious of the weight you’re using.

Instead of changing the weight, dumbbell workouts might require you to change the reps or exercise.

You’re going to need to figure out ways around a type of exercise or weight that you might not have access to.

You can’t do heavy dumbbell deadlifts with 2kg DBs, so you’ll probably have to find what is challenging for the weight you have access to.

However, this is how home workouts tend to go, and it’s why we’re going to focus on movements – not just specific exercises – in our full body home workout with dumbbells.


Benefits of Dumbbell Workouts

dumbbell workout

Activation of Stabilizers

As mentioned, the instability of dumbbells forces you to stabilize them yourself.

This builds strength and control, and coordination in the joints. Smaller stabilizer muscles you might miss with barbells get better training with dumbbells.

Things like presses with dumbbells offer a unique challenge that builds muscle mass while also improving coordination.

Perfect for improving joint health, as well as your physique!

These pair up well with the lower-weight, single-leg type exercise mentioned above.

When we bring the weight down and increase the demand on other athletic factors – like coordination and stability – we build a wider range of benefits.

Great for 1-Arm, 1-Leg Movements

With dumbbells, you get access to a wide range of single-limb movements. These are unilateral – they only use one side – which completely changes how you perform them.

It’s a subtle change, but it also involves improving your core rotation, stability and can really help with evening-out asymmetries.

As you build up single-limb strength, you’ll get better at 2-handed or 2-legged exercises, as well as improving your whole-body strength.

This is a really important area to train – if you’re missing out single-limb exercises, you may be ignoring huge weaknesses.

Dumbbells are perfect for this since they’re lighter, they’re more maneuverable, and they require extra stability – the three key benefits of single-limb training.

Looking to build guns – then check out Barbell Curls Vs. Dumbbell Curls.

dumbbell workout

High-Variety of Exercises

Dumbbells have amazing range and scope. You can do all kinds of exercises with 1 or 2 dumbbells, which tends to make up for the reduced loading.

Dumbbells can add real variety to your training program – which helps prevent plateaus and is perfect for maintaining consistent progress.

Often, it’s a smart idea to change up your exercise selection rather than just changing your reps or load.

With home workouts, variety is a great way to keep things fresh.

Dumbbell work offers a much wider range than a barbell, for example, because they’re lighter and more maneuverable.

We can use variety and a wider range of exercises to fill out a lighter workout. It also gives access to a wide range of joint-health exercises and “prehab” that heavier implements usually cannot. 

Excellent for Conditioning

Dumbbells – with a lighter load and more stability demands – are perfect for conditioning. 

If you’re looking for a home workout for fitness, dumbbells are perfect.

They offer excellent conditioning because they are weighted, so you’re not doing low-intensity cardio, but they’re light enough that you’re going to be able to perform higher reps.

If you’re working out at home with dumbbells, you’ve got a great opportunity to maximize your conditioning and combine all the benefits. This is especially useful if you’re trying to look, feel, and perform better.

Dumbbells and their conditioning options work because intensity (weight and difficulty per rep) are traded off for complexity and repetition.

So you can pump up the volume and perform tons of reps to kick up your heart rate – especially with the variety and stability challenges we’ve already mentioned.

Convinced? Then find out which type of dumbbell is best for your home gym.

Not sure if dumbbells are best for you, then check out our head to head guides:

Key Takeaways

Dumbbells are good for home workouts. They increase the activation of stabilizing muscles and give you plenty of variation in your training.

Happy training!

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