I’m not a big fan of barbells.

I’m not a fan, because they effectively lock your arms into a fixed position. When you lock your wrists, elbows, and shoulders into a fixed position (see photo on left), you put more stress on your muscles, tendons, and joints. It is my personal experience and belief that long term use of barbells will result in more wear and tear, eventually resulting in strains, sprains, and tissue tearing.

The good thing is, barbell lifting isn’t the only way to lift weights. You have alternatives. If you’re like me, you still want to walk over to the weight rack and pick up some weights. Your alternative to barbells is…wait for it…wait for it; dumbbells.

But wait! Isn’t a dumbbell a barbell? Technically yes. A dumbbell has a bar with weights affixed to it. But there is a big difference between a barbell and a dumbbell. Barbells requite you to place both hands on a single bar to push the weight (see photo to left), while dumbbells allow you to place your hands on individual (shorter) bars (see photo on right).

Dumbbell lifting is, in my opinion, a much better free weight experience on your arms. It’s better, because when you have a separate weight in each hand, you can adjust the angle and position of your arms to move in natural, more functional motions.

Our muscles are uniquely designed to assist each other, and the arms (the muscles from your hands to your shoulders) are supposed to work as a chain.

In clinical terminology, it’s called a kinetic chain. Kinetic refers to movement. So, the muscles of the hands, forearms, upper arms and shoulders work best when they are contracting together¬†

When the muscles work as a chain, they assist each other. Each individual muscle does not need to contract with as much intensity, because some of the energy used to lift the weight is coming from other muscles along the chain. This is safer on the tissues, and you actually are stronger with a particular weight lifting movement.

But I digress. Read the following article. It only relates to what I am talking about to a small degree, but it inspired me to write my article and it has good information never the less.

This is good article on barbell lifting vs other forms of weight lifting.