Can I Build Muscle With Dumbbells?
As a trusted supplier of training equipment, aside from just supplying you with the tools for your fitness journey, we at Sporteq also take pride in providing the answers to questions you may have about fitness.
The process of building muscle is a heavily disputed topic, with people swearing by their method of “making gains”. But the reality is, everybody’s body is different, what may work for you, may not work for someone else.
There are many factors that can influence your muscle growth, some of the key factors being diet, equipment and workout regimens.
Within this blog, we will be addressing a question that relates to anyone on their fitness journey. Can you build muscle with dumbbells?
For the uninitiated, let us explain what a dumbbell is.
What is a dumbbell?
A dumbbell is a small metal rod with plated weights attached to the side. The weights on the side can be adjustable, in terms of adding more weight. Alternatively, they can come as one singular weight. This totally depends on the brand you purchase.
As opposed to barbells, dumbbells, due to their smaller size and variety of weight, makes them more accessible to people of any strength level. Barbells are slightly less accessible as some people may really struggle to manoeuvre the weight of the bar itself.
In regards to weight options, dumbbells can range from 1-100kg. It entirely depends on the gym or the set you purchase. This variety of weight works well for somebody who may have different levels of strength in one muscle group (shoulders, for example, the front deltoids may be stronger than the rear deltoids, so using a lighter weight for the rear deltoids might be more beneficial.)
Due to most dumbbells being set at weights that can’t be readjusted – such as Hex Dumbbells – you won’t have to spend time during your workout looking for, removing and adding weights which can be a common occurrence for a traditional barbell. That being said, adjustable dumbbells have their own qualities such as being close-packed and thus not taking much room for storage.
But are dumbbells a good option when it comes to building muscle? Well, first let’s take a look at the factors (exercise-wise) that build muscles.
Building muscle regardless of experience is down to one factor when exercising. That factor is time under tension.
Time under tension is something we experience in everyday life, it is the factor that helps our muscles grow stronger. A baby crawls before it stands, it gradually builds strength in its arms and legs by getting used to using the muscles required to crawl and eventually stand and walk.
If we live a sedentary lifestyle, we aren’t pushing our bodies to grow any more than they need to, this can be a factor in people not having muscular physiques. This is why facilities like the gym exist, to help us exercise our bodies and refine them, whether that be through weightlifting or sports classes.
Experience, natural strength and balance levels will determine who needs more time under tension than the other. Here is an example:
Two people do press-ups beside each other, both at the same speed.
Person A has done press-ups all of their life
Person B has never done a press-up
Person A performs the press-ups for a longer period before feeling any muscular aches that make them stop.
Person B performs fewer press-ups and gets muscular aches rather quickly.
Person B is not used to this motion and tension in their body, hence why they burn out so quickly.
Person A is used to this tension, so their body had grown in accordance to accommodate this tension it had become used to. However, if person A was not consistent with doing press-ups they would not do as well.
In terms of building muscle through exercise, here is a very simple equation:
W + TUT x C = Muscle growth*
Weights + Time under tension x Consistency = Muscle growth
Can you build muscle with dumbbells?
The answer, very simply, is yes.
Regardless of your experience or strength levels, you are able to build muscle with dumbbells. The difference comes in your execution.
There is a myriad of routines and exercises overpopulating the internet, so instead of adding to that long list, we are just going to share some simple tips for beginners and experienced lifters looking to gain muscle.
If you are a beginner:
- Do not be afraid to start with a lightweight if that is the level of your strength, an injury is not worth it.
- Try and train with an experienced training partner or coach
- Ask people if you need a spot, gym communities are always happy to help
- Sometimes you may be able to lift a weight with no problem, but you shake when holding it. This is a reflection of your core and balance, even if the weight is easy to lift, please make sure your balance developed alongside your strength before going to a heavier weight.
- Be patient with yourself, everybody grows at different rates.
- Try to keep a level of consistency, especially if you want to grow muscle. Training for one day and then not training again for another 2 weeks, will be of no benefit.
- You will ache, be sure to stretch and massage the area you train after you work out. Everyone aches, regardless of experience, don’t let it deter you.
- If you can do 12 reps with a weight with no issue or ache, that is a sign your body has grown stronger, so you can move up in weight.
- Focus on the eccentric movement as much as the concentric movement. These movements vary between exercises, but an example would be a bench press. Take your time as the weight comes down as well as when it goes back up. This ensures the development of refined and balanced muscle.
If you are experienced:
- Try new movements, especially if you’ve been doing the same routine for months on end
- Remember to increase weights if you can do 12 or more reps
- Dumbells give you more options in terms of exercises, be sure to explore those options
- Occasionally change your routine if you find your workout too easy, or you aren’t gaining muscle.
- Listen to your body. Once you have acclimated to consistent workouts, you will be able to recognise the difference between workout aches, and actual pain. If you are feeling actual pain, take some rest days and consult a doctor.
It is important to note that, for anybody training, a poor diet will severely hamper your muscle growth, if you are not consuming the right foods and fluids your body needs to grow.
This does not mean just having supplements. Supplements are made to be taken along with a balanced diet. Think of it like this, you can’t run a car without fuel, and it can’t just be any fuel, it has to be right for the car. You are the car, so what are you fuelling yourself with?
The benefits of gaining muscle
Here are some benefits of gaining muscle, whether it be through dumbbells, barbels or bodyweight exercises etc.
- Gaining muscle can help reinforce a positive body image.
- The consistency needed and challenges faced when trying to gain muscle can create mental resilience to difficulties we encounter in life.
- From lifting weights to gaining muscle, you also gain an understanding of the value of the work you put in and how it can benefit your life.
- Your bones and tendons will be stronger.
- Having larger muscles can increase your strength output.
- The process of gaining muscle via weightlifting can release and reduce stress.
- A muscular physique can be seen as attractive and aesthetic
- Bigger and stronger muscles can help you take part in other activities where strength is needed, such as rock climbing or gymnastics
- You understand your body a lot better than you would if you didn’t train at all.
- It will benefit your mental health, as you become the evidence of the hard work you put in, seeing the change you made in yourself, for yourself can be inspiring for people.
- Bigger and stronger muscles can come in handy if ever there is an emergency and you need to help yourself or somebody else.
Begin your muscle-building journey today
Weightlifting is a vital component in overall physical health and a challenging yet rewarding journey if you choose to begin it, whether that is at home, or in a gym
In this blog, we hope to have shown you how you can build muscle with dumbbells whilst also sharing valuable tips to help you flourish on your weightlifting/fitness journey. The team at Sporteq is always here to help. If you would like to contact us via email, click the link here.
You can call us at 0161 354 2579
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