Although the origin of the word “Dumbbell” is unclear, we do know that this humble piece of exercise equipment- a short bar with two weighted heads on either side- can trace its origins to both the ancient Greeks and Romans. Even Benjamin Franklin was a known advocate of Dumbbell training; though judging his likeness on the $100 bill, perhaps he should have worked out more often.
Every gym has a Dumbbell rack. They’re usually propped up against a mirror and are arranged in long lines of dark black hand-weights of ascending order. They can be as light as 5lbs to as heavy as 100lbs, but most people use them on the lighter to moderate end of the scale.
In any case, Dumbbells are numerous advantages and benefits to an active lifestyle, and anyone aspiring to a strong physique should incorporate them into their workouts.
The primary use of the Dumbbells is for joint isolation when performing strength training exercises. Probably the classic Bicep Curl is what comes to mind to most people.
What most sets Dumbbells apart from the larger Barbell is that Dumbbells help the body compensate for muscle imbalances. A Shoulder press performed with Dumbbells means that if the left hand is weaker than the right, the left hand will still have to work just as hard to lift the weight without any assistance from the other side of the body.
But because they are so versatile, particularly with their range of movement, Dumbbells can be applied to all sorts of fantastic exercises that target anywhere from the shoulders, to the core, to legs. The variations are almost infinite.
Plus, since they’re small and lightweight, you don’t need a lot of space to keep them in your house for home workouts, nor do you need any other specialized equipment such as a power rack or bench press.
If you’re new to free weight training, start off with some simpler movements like the Chest Press and the Bicep Curl with lighter Dumbbells to build up your strength.
Joel Runyon is the founder of IMPOSSIBLE® - performance lifestyle brand encompassing performance apparel & formulas, IMPOSSIBLE Fitness® programs, and a philanthropy arm. An endurance athlete and entrepreneur - he's also the creator of MoveWellApp and owns Ultimate Meal Plans. Find out what next challenge Joel is crossing off his impossible list here.