The good ol’ Dumbbell has always been undervalued in most CrossFit programming structures. Many athletes, unfortunately, associate it with bicep curls and other bodybuilding movements. That changed when Dave Castro included a pair of dumbbells in the Open Workouts both last year and this year. These WODs included a healthy dose of DB movements from the squats and lunges to snatches and clean and jerks.
Still, even with its resurgence, the dumbbell still often gets ignored, as most athletes would prefer working on their power and Olympic lifts using a barbell. But there are so many benefits of the dumbbell that can benefit not only bodybuilders but CrossFit athletes as well. Here are few:
- Dumbbells are perfect for those with home gyms and those with very limited training spaces.
Let’s face it—not everyone has the budget to join a CrossFit affiliate. Or if they do, the nearest one is probably a few hours away. As an alternative, a lot of these athletes work out in their garage or mini home gyms. For those who train in a limited space (so much so that they can’t even fit an Olympic bar), give them a pair of dumbbells, a kettlebell and a medicine ball, and they’re good to go! I, for one, train at my home gym using only these equipment and that hasn’t stopped me from improving my fitness.
- All barbell movements have their dumbbell counterparts.
Some people may think that simply having a pair of DBs would heavily limit the number or variety of workouts they can do. On the contrary, you can use dumbbells to do deadlifts, lunges, cleans and snatches and achieve the same benefit. Yes, you heard that right! You can do FRAN even with a pair of 35# DBs, or Grace with a couple of 50’s.
- You’ll improve your symmetrical strength.
Speaking of Fran, I can tell you first hand that doing dumbbell thrusters is even more challenging compared to barbell thrusters. Why? Because with a barbell, you can always compensate with your stronger side and still lift the weight up. With a pair of DBs, you have to stabilize each side accordingly, and that does wonders to your coordination and injury resilience. Talk about symmetrical strength development!
- Dumbbell movements are great preparatory movements for Olympic lifting.
If you’re just starting out in your functional fitness journey or if you’re a bootcamper who wants to progress to Oly lifts, then you can’t go wrong with a pair of DBs. As mentioned above, you will improve your coordination and symmetrical strength with a dumbbell, and these are must-haves when you’re trying to learn these highly technical movements.
So there you have it! Remember, dumbbells aren’t just for bicep curls (and I won’t blame you if you still do them). Search up a few CrossFit workouts that incorporate a dumbbell and do these WODs yourself or with a friend. You’ll be surprised how a pair of DBs can do wonders for your fitness!