Some serious strength gains after a year of 5/3/1 – My friend Pete demonstrating how effective the system is by simply following it for 12 months. Great work mate!
A Year Of 531 <——- Click Here!
A frequently asked question when it comes to chest training is ‘Are Dumbells better or worse than a Barbell?’ – There is no yes or no answer to this one, it is entirely dependant on your goals.
As you can load a barbell gradually with minor increases in weight, they are the ideal tool for building strength. To get stronger you need to progressively lift more weight over a period of time. If you can’t, something is not right – You can perform all the drop-sets/supersets/giant sets/forced reps etc etc, but if the weight is not increasing, you will not get stronger – You will plateau much quicker with Dumbbells due to the large increase in weight percentage between them. Even a well stocked gym will have the weight increases around the 2.5kg mark. This is as increase of 5kg on your lift which is going to be a challenge for most and makes progressive loading nigh impossible. If your goal is pure strength you can load significantly more onto a barbell due to its balance and stability and so is the perfect tool in this situation.
Muscular imbalance is another thing to address. Although you can try and be more aware of pushing equally or focusing on leading with the weaker side, with a Barbell imbalances can be masked. When using Dumbbells you will be much more aware of imbalances as one side will be unstable or will fatigue first, and will prevent your dominant side from growing faster than the other. Balanced body strength leads to greater performance and lowers the chance of injury.
The Barbell bench press is also harder on your joints than dumbbells. When pressing with dumbbells, your hands won’t remain completely pronated (palms forward), but will rotate slightly inwards reducing the stress on your wrists elbows and shoulders (particularly rotator cuff) and therefore reducing your chance of injury.
With regard to muscle recruitment, researchers noted that electrical activity or muscle stimulation in the arms was greatest in the triceps with a barbell, but when dumbbells are used the biceps also come into play as stabilisers. The Barbell activates more upper chest fibres and anterior deltoid due to the wide grip in the top position, however as your hands are free to move across your body with dumbbell presses there is greater lower pectoral activation. Although yes, you will use more stabilising muscles with the dumbbells, you will be limited by the weight increases as previously mentioned meaning you will plateau sooner.
In my opinion the barbell is the better option as you can handle a lot more weight doing the same exercises. More weight moved = bigger muscles. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use dumbbells, you should try and use both – Just keep the main focus on increasing the weight on the bar and use dumbbell sets to ensure you work the entire chest area, prevent imbalances and keep your joints healthy.
In a nutshell:
You don’t keep a training log.
Keeping a detailed log of your progress is one of the most important things you can do to make sure you are constantly progressing and acheiving optimal results from your training. Without this, your training is just guesswork. If you keep a log you can look back and set yourself a goal/PR to beat every session, or look back and make adjustments/changes when you hit a plateau. On top of this, how will you know you’ve improved over time? Wouldn’t you like to be able to look back and say ‘I’ve added 20kg to my Bench Press in the last 6 months!’ or ‘My 1 mile run time has dropped by over 30 seconds in the last 8 weeks’?
To build muscle you should always be striving to beat PR’s (personal records) in your training. Without your training log you will be hard pressed to remember all of your PR’s so you won’t know if your progressing or just spinning wheels, and without it, everything you do is just like driving without a map and your progress will be much slower than it could be.
This basic rule should form the basis of your entire workout plan, especially if strength is your goal. To structure your training approach, this is the most important factor. Nowadays everyone is so obsessed with all of the specific principles in the gym (such as rep ranges, grip variations, speed of reps, how many sets to perform, whioch days to train, exercise selection .. the list goes on ..) they fail to see the big picture.
Whatever your goal is, the underlying principle will always be progression.
Our bodies build muscle as an adaptive response to the environment they are exposed to. When you go to the gym, you break down your muscle fibers by lifting weights. Your body senses this as a potential threat to its survival and will react by rebuilding the damaged fibers larger and stronger in order to better enable them to cope with the threat next time. So in order to make continual gains in muscle size and strength, you must focus on progressing workout to workout in order to consistently increase that stress level and so growth.
Progression is in one of two forms – An increase in weight or an increase in reps. As long as you increase one of these every session you will give your body the incentive to grow stronger. If you ignore this and train without a logbook or a planned out session you will be ignoring the principle of growth and your gains will come to a grinding halt.
Your aim is to improve on a session by session basis, how can you do this without documenting it somehow? You need to record the lift, weight used and reps acheived so that the next time you enter the gym you can sit down, review the previous session/lifts performed and aim to smash the weight or reps you’ve recorded previously. Buy yourself a cheap diary and start writing it down!