Unbalanced Dumbbells – Do Dumbbells Have to Be Balanced?
Dumbbells are a low-cost investment that you can make into your workout journey that will have massive benefits. They open you up to a whole world of new exercises, strength training, and fat-burning possibilities.
If you’ve bought a set of dumbbells before, then you might have a couple of different pairs at different weights in the set.
Common sense says that you should use the same weight in each hand, and never use unbalanced dumbbells…but you might be surprised to find out that isn’t necessarily true.
In this article we’ll be asking questions such as do dumbbells have to be balanced, what are the benefits of unbalanced dumbbells, examples of exercises, and more.
Unbalanced Dumbbells – What You Should Know?
When you’re looking into buying a set of dumbbells, it’s a good idea to try and pick up a set that comes with a variety of different weights. Most sets of dumbbells will have pairs ranging from 1kg up to 10kg. Even if you’re not buying a set for yourself, then any reputable commercial gym will have dumbbells free for your use.
With dumbbells, the possibilities for how you can use them in your existing workouts or create new workouts with them are endless. This especially includes some unconventional and creative ways that people have come up with, such as the idea of using unbalanced dumbbells.
The idea of unbalanced dumbbells is to put more pressure on one side of your body over the other. This can help to train this specific part, such as the left or right arm over the other. Unbalanced dumbbells can also simulate training arms and muscles in isolation.
The difference between, for example, single-arm isolation curls and unbalanced dumbbells is that using unbalanced dumbbells still allows you to work out your whole body, even the side you’re not focusing on.
It can also feel a lot more natural to have a dumbbell in both hands and help to preserve the rhythm of the workout.
Do Dumbbells Have to be Balanced?
The great thing about working out is that it’s a personal experience, and nobody can tell you exactly how to do it. There is still advice you should follow to make sure you stay safe and your workouts are effective.
There’s no absolute yes or no answer to whether dumbbells have to be balanced or not. In the interests of keeping things simple, you’ll probably find that common advice is that dumbbells should be even.
Common advice and recommendations such as these help to keep things consistent for beginners, as those are the people who most often ask questions such as this. For those at an intermediate and average level of using dumbbells, unbalanced dumbbells become more of an interesting discussion.
Risks of Lifting Uneven Weights
As with every exercise, there are risks involved when you make adaptations and try to add your twist on things. This is especially true when lifting uneven weights.
Dumbbells are made of metal, most often iron or steel. They are up to 10kg of condensed metal that even just dropping them on the floor can do some damage…to the floor. Imagine the result of dropping it on a part of your body that isn’t prepared for that much weight, and it’s easy to shudder at.
When it comes to lifting uneven dumbbells, you add a few more risks to those existing issues. The main factor to be aware of is that using uneven dumbbells skews your body towards the heavier side. It encourages your body to match its movements to where the weight is concentrated.
If you plan to use uneven dumbbells for long periods, you run some more serious risks such as muscle atrophy. This is where a muscle decays due to not being in use. Because of the high weights involved with dumbbell training, the process of muscle atrophy can be accelerated if you only focus on one half of your body for a while.
Asymmetrical Weight Training
Now that you know the risks, there has to be a benefit to asymmetrical weight training doesn’t there? You’re in luck – when done safely, with caution, and in moderation, asymmetrical weight training is a great way to augment your lifting.
One of the benefits of asymmetrical weight training is that it can help to train your core. When you have an uneven distribution of weight, your body will naturally want to correct this by using your core muscles to shift you into a position that mitigates the uneven weight.
You can do any dumbbell exercise you can think of, but use unbalanced weights or it instead, and you’ll instantly add the benefit of core training to the workout even if it wasn’t designed to do this.
Something important to be aware of: you shouldn’t have a drastic imbalance of weights on each side. You can’t do 1kg in your left arm and then 10kg in your right arm. Your core can only compensate for so much imbalance, and with this large of a gap, you’re likely to cause some serious injury.
Dumbbells Weight on Each Side Should Be The Same
“Dumbbells weight on each side should be the same”…you’ve probably heard that said before if you’ve asked about uneven dumbbells, either online or to someone you know. It’s common sense after all, right?
The thing is if you’re getting an answer like that you’re probably not asking in the right place for advice on uneven dumbbells. People who use dumbbells casually, or don’t even use them at all, will probably think that dumbbells need to be even.
It’s because it challenges expectations.
Makers of dumbbells and other fitness products want you to use them the same way that everyone else does. This is to protect them from liability – because as we mentioned, uneven dumbbells do come with slightly increased risk.
If you’re smart, and if you know what you’re doing, then this advice is just that – advice. You know your own body best at the end of the day, so you’ll know if asymmetrical weight training is right for you.
Unbalanced Dumbbells – Closing Thoughts
So, to conclude, unbalanced dumbbells aren’t a common way to use dumbbells or to do dumbbell exercises. But finding new and interesting ways to use dumbbells is a great way to increase your enthusiasm for using them and help you find new exercises.
Looking for more ways to use dumbbells? We’ve got you covered with dumbbell exercises, routines, WODs, tips, and more to help.