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Is it better to use a barbell or dumbbells when training biceps?

Your goals and individual anatomical structure should dictate whether to use a barbell or dumbbells when training the biceps. Using a barbell for your biceps exercises will usually allow you to use heavier loads when compared to dumbbells because of the increased stability that the barbell provides.  Depending on your goals, this might benefit you because lifting heavier weights will stimulate and overload more muscle fibers, potentially causing greater gains in strength and muscle size.  However, barbells can create more stress on the elbow, wrist, and shoulder joints because you have to adjust your hands and arms to the fixed bar position, creating less freedom for your joints to move.  This is not an issue when using dumbbells because they move independently of each other and will adjust to your individual anatomical structure.  Also, because they are not fixed, dumbbells create a greater challenge to stability, which can be beneficial for activating the often overlooked muscles that stabilize and protect the joints from injury.  Therefore, if using the barbell causes hand/wrist, elbow, and shoulder discomfort or pain, then it is wise to switch to dumbbells- which in addition to working the biceps will also challenge stabilizing muscles. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.