giving dumbbells some love

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WickStick
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giving dumbbells some love

Post by WickStick » Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:40 pm

Hi folks!

Long time reader, first time poster. Props to those who have been keeping this site active and more importantly, informative and accurate.


My question is related to the comparison of total body dumbbell versus barbell workouts. Is it possible to get solid progress with dumbbells as barbells? I ask because

(1) My goal is to cut fat (5' 11". 195lbs, 24 years old, and I work out 2-3 times a week total body while following the suggested approach to nutrition on this site), rather not to gain copious amounts of muscle. So I am doing this more as a fat burning exercise. So far--lost 15 lbs and it is working for me.
(2) I have the golds gym dumbells as well as a pushup bar that can nicely fit in my room. Getting to a a proper gym does not fit with my work schedule--and it is uber convenient to just do a 30 minute workout (while boiling some beans for dinner--2 birds, one stone).

Perhaps this is a trivial question...I feel that being able to do barbell squats, cleans, squats, and bench are going to much more effective then doing a bunch of dumbell squats, lunges, pushups, rows, curls, and presses (with dumbbells).

But I have to ask--do you know of a routine, or a workout, or anything? that can shock the system as well as using barbells? Or does it matter more that it is working for me and I should stick with what is working?

Thanks a bunch!

Rob

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Re: giving dumbbells some love

Post by MikeF » Wed Mar 14, 2012 4:04 am

Nothing wrong with dumbbells. Nothing wrong with only using them exclusively, especially when you have nothing else. At least you are lifting. You said its working so there's your evidence.

I usually don't give answers because everybody knows more than me, but this one was a no brainer.

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Re: giving dumbbells some love

Post by robertscott » Wed Mar 14, 2012 6:49 am

google "dumbell complexes". That should get you where you want to go

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Re: giving dumbbells some love

Post by KenDowns » Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:11 am

When I started lifting 18 months ago I owned two adjustable 5# dumbbell handles, with a grand total of 70# of plates, so I could load the db's up to all of 40# each. This worked very well for me for a few weeks mostly because I was learning completely from scratch and i was, ahem, not strong. Why wouldn't it work for you as well? You should be just fine.

Sooner or later you may feel you've exhausted the possibilities for a pure db regime, when that time comes you may adjust budget or schedule to make room for barbells, but why worry about that now? Get on with the dumbbells and revisit the question later.
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Re: giving dumbbells some love

Post by WickStick » Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:30 am

Thanks a ton for the quick replies!

I thought I was doing the right thing. And yeah I am at the point where the dumbbell weights I have are becoming a little light. I have up to 50lbs, and I am almost maxed out on everything. I guess unless my goal is to get bigger and stronger, I should stick with my program, or alter it in a way that makes the lifts more difficult .

I will look further into the complexes--and perhaps even try and do three or four more lifts on top of what i am doing, just to increase the difficulty and generate more fat burning.

But yeah--no brainer--if it aint broke dont try and fix it:)

Rob

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Re: giving dumbbells some love

Post by Dub » Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:04 pm

The only thing that gives you something to puzzle about is growing out of the dumbells. Eventually that might happen unless you use more challenging exercises. Doing pistol squats instead of squats for instance. Or more unilateral work in general. Maybe altering rep methods or time under tension could make an exercise harder too. Take slow eccentrics as an example. Or 1.5 reps.
If possible at any point, progress to heavier weight. This kind of brainjob will only last so far.
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Re: giving dumbbells some love

Post by WickStick » Wed Mar 14, 2012 3:31 pm

Dub wrote:The only thing that gives you something to puzzle about is growing out of the dumbells. Eventually that might happen unless you use more challenging exercises. Doing pistol squats instead of squats for instance. Or more unilateral work in general. Maybe altering rep methods or time under tension could make an exercise harder too. Take slow eccentrics as an example. Or 1.5 reps.
If possible at any point, progress to heavier weight. This kind of brainjob will only last so far.

I see--that makes sense. I guess at some point I will have to put my big boy pants on and make time in my day to go to the gym. Probably sooner than I think.

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Re: giving dumbbells some love

Post by MikeF » Wed Mar 14, 2012 4:50 pm

There's some great single dumbbell lifts you can work on. I don't know what they are called but 50lb is fairly heavy for me when I do sets of them. Maybe those are the complexes? They were sometimes slightly similar to Olympic lifts, other times like combining a few lifts into one ( single dumbbell squat -> curl -> Arnold press), other times some controlled swing movements like kettle-bells... The lifts look dangerous and unusual (especially the use of momentum) but they might surprise you about how natural they end up feeling. I was very strict on form (fear helps that) and had no injuries during that time.

They felt fairly natural and when I did them my shoulders felt the best they every did. I'm sorry I don't remember where I learnt them (back about 6 years ago) but try looking for them on the net and they might extend your use of dumbbells a little longer.

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Re: giving dumbbells some love

Post by Dub » Wed Mar 14, 2012 4:55 pm

Dumbell snatches, cleans and swings are great workout exercises to say a few. If possible, and it would be very nice, do lots of pull-ups. When you want to get heavy, squeese the DB between your legs. That forces you to very strict and tight form during the whole movement. Plus it's freaking hard and gets the right muscles.
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Re: giving dumbbells some love

Post by Jungledoc » Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:34 pm

There is also a sticky about complexes, including DB complexes, at the top of this forum.
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Re: giving dumbbells some love

Post by Ironman » Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:59 am

I have a set of powerblocks at my house. I do workout in a gym too, but some workouts are at home. So I definitely do a lot of dumbbell work. They go up to 130 lbs. each. So it's hard to outgrow them for most people. Really if you get a bench, a set of power blocks, a chin bar, and maybe some bands or something like that, you should be able to do most of what you need to do.

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Re: giving dumbbells some love

Post by robertscott » Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:38 am

those powerblocks look awesome. Expensive though...

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Re: giving dumbbells some love

Post by stuward » Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:44 am

robertscott wrote:those powerblocks look awesome. Expensive though...
Cheaper than a rack of dumbbells. Takes up less space too. Plate loaded adjustables are a cost effective alternative, although less convenient.
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Re: giving dumbbells some love

Post by robertscott » Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:04 am

stuward wrote:
robertscott wrote:those powerblocks look awesome. Expensive though...
Cheaper than a rack of dumbbells. Takes up less space too. Plate loaded adjustables are a cost effective alternative, although less convenient.
oh yeah it's the convenience aspect that appeals most, and I'd definitely choose the powerblocks over a rack of dumbells.

Buying a rack of dumbells up to 130lbs would cost a fortune!

I just checked the powerblocks. To get them up to 40k from Amazon costs about [1 million dollars], whereas separate dumbells up to 25k costs about [1 million dollars]

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Re: giving dumbbells some love

Post by WickStick » Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:45 pm

Unfortunately--mine only go up to 50 lbs each. I did not have a ton of foresight on this one. Oh well--lesson learned!

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