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Gaining muscle with only dumbbells?

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Scrawny, vegan, weight lifting newbie here.


I inherited these Bowflex SelectTech Adjustable Dumbbells that go up to 52.5 lbs each


So my question is... Is it difficult to gain muscle with only dumbbells and no barbells?

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There are a million exercises you can do with a set of dumbbells actually. Trying googling or youtubing dumbbell exercises or training or techniques. You will likely get a lot of results. I do about 8 regularly. Although a friend of mine showed me many new ones just the other day. 52.5 each is pretty good. I only way 155-160lbs and I use 30 lb dumbbells regularly. One thing you can try that is really good is getting a yoga ball. Use that in place of a weight bench. put it under your upper back and use your back, stomach and leg muscles to keep your back straight and parallel to the floor. Then do bench presses with your dumb bells. This works your back, core, and legs at the same time as your arms. It also teaches your arm muscles to coordinate with each other more because there is no bar keeping both sides together. It also allows you to extend down further than if you have a weight bench under you.



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CoBu were we helpful? How is it going so far with the dumb bell training?


Yes, very encouraging! It's been a battle...


I've been on and off with it for a while now. Progress seems to happen quite slowly even when I am consistent with it, but I'm beginning to wonder if I'm not eating enough. Also maybe not focusing on compound exercises enough. My routine looks something like this:


Day 1

Bench Press - 3 sets x 8 reps

Triceps Extension - 2 sets x 8 reps

Curls - 2 sets x 8 reps

Lateral Raises - 1 set x 8 reps

Shoulder Press - 2 sets x 8 reps

Ab Exercise (don't know what it's called) - 3 sets x 8 reps


Day 2

One Arm Row - 3 sets x 8 reps

Wide Row - 3 sets x 8 reps

Deadlift - 3 sets x 8 reps

Calf Raises - 1 set x 8 reps

Squats - 3 sets x 8 reps, although like I said, I haven't figured out how to comfortably get a heavy lift with dumbbells


When I'm motivated, I alternate from day to day, but lately I've been skipping a lot of days. Is this a well balanced workout regime? Is it too much or not enough?


I'm now just kind of realizing that I'm not gonna change overnight, so I have to learn to be happy with small, gradual improvements. Sometimes I get discouraged and say to myself that even if I work out consistently, it'll still be a years before I'm anywhere near where I wanna be. Hopefully joining this message board will keep me positive and inspired!

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Dumbbells are better than machines, barbells are better than dumbbells.


You'll gain/make progress for sure but dumbbell are something to use after barbell work...for me. 


Dumbbells will serve you well with a well

Thought out plan but stuff like dumbbell squats aren't amazing & dumbbell deadlifts end up looking like a squat.

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from my experience, i have recieved my best body using dumbbells. using machines tends to give me a body with less volume. u still get fit with machines, but when i use dumbbells there is no question that i break my ass in the gym


sent using tapatalk on my crappy optimus s

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  • 2 weeks later...
According to me, yeah it is difficult. You can't build your muscle with the help of only dumbbells. Using many types of gym machines can be of great help in building a good looking physique.


That's actually quite backward for most people experience. You can get a far better and more effective workout with a quality range of different weight dumbbells than a range of isolation-based machines that won't mimic the real feel of a lift in comparison to free weights.


Saying you can't build muscle with dumbbells only is quite false, definitely not accurate. Plenty of people have done well with dumbbells only, so if you can't build muscle with using them by themselves, it's not the dumbbells, but how you're training and eating that's the issue!

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