Barbell or dumbell setup?

Giving up on ever getting into a gym this year and was going to add some more capability to my home setup. I need the ability to do squats/deadlifts to about 160-180lb - i know the barbell/plates would be best, but also the most $ - can i get a similar workout with dumbbells and single leg work or should i just spend the coin for a bar/plates/rack and do it right?

I personally prefer single leg work…we use single leg application on the bike (of course we use both at the same time symbiotically, but not doing the same movement at the same time), helps to discover and work on imbalances, less weight needed, generally safer from injury, helps me with stabilizing and balance as well. I’m sure there is science that shows pros and cons of both.

I like the simplicity of a bar and rack. I do plenty of single leg exercises as well, but for time efficiency and high weight/low rep work I think the bar is the best option.

Not cheap, but I justified it to myself on the basis that secondhand costs seemed to be almost as much as new (this year at least!), and it’s not like this is tech that’s going to get outdated. So if I ever decide I don’t need it any more I can get a good chunk of my money back.

1 Like

I have a 40 lb dumbbell and kettlebell. So 80 lb total for single leg stuff. Works very well.

Plus the dumbbell and kettlebell allow me to do every other exercise in my routine. With these 2 weights and rock rings for pull-ups, I have all the equipment for my home gym in a very efficient setup.

If this were Jan 2020 and you were asking I would say barbell and plates, but given COVID and supply constraints you might not get what you want.

The other thing you didn’t mention is available space. Bar/plates/rack are great but they need space. If you dont have space going to something like kettlebell might be a good alternative.

Need more info

I’m partial to a hex/trap bar for deadlifts and a dumbbell for front squats. No need for a rack.

I don’t do back squats at the moment. Not a big deal for me because like many cyclists, weight training is a secondary priority. I plan on getting a rack later since I can use it for a lot of stuff in addition to back squats, like bench press, pullups, and TRX exercises, but that can wait.

As for single legged exercises, the benefits are fairly obvious, but they require better technique and ~2X the amount of time to complete. For more bang-for-your-buck (timewise) strength gains, I think barbells win.

1 Like

I would go barbell and rack if you have the space and the £
Easier to go heavy with a barbell than dumbells, and you can still do single leg exercises with a barbell if you want to.

1 Like

Single leg is more functional and you need less weight. It doesn’t take twice as long, either, because you don’t rest between each leg. If you alternate a set with another exercise like a row or a push-up and don’t take dedicated zero exercise recovery, it takes no more time at all.

All of my home gym work is single leg. Split squats or pistols with goblet hold KB or dumbbell, single leg deadlift with kettlebells.

1 Like

I’d go with kettlebells first then dumbbells as a second option.

The kettlebells offer lots of options that are not easily accessible to dbs. I do several variations of deadlifts with the kettlebells and it doesn’t take that much weight to make front squats taxing. I have an attachment to swings for posterior work and get-ups for functional work (lots of core). I think Kettlebell Kings has a lot of product available right now. Just bought a 28k to fill a gap I had.

1 Like

Two things I find easier with dumbbells are:

  • Plank row. The extra “height” of the kettlebell makes these difficult. Much easier with a dumbbell
  • Turkish getups: the kettlebell resting against my forearm hurts :cry:
1 Like

I was going to say this same thing.

Single leg squats are a more functional movement, and you only need (approximately) half the weight. You can do a split squat or a rear foot elevated split squat (aka Bulgarian).

I like kettlebells, but dumbbells can do the same.

You can hold one in each hand (doesn’t even have to be the same weight) or hold one at your chest (a sumo squat).

@DaveWh I agree on the plank rows. I’m just progressing from my Powerblocks to Kbs. On the get-ups I find it about not letting my wrist flex, pressing the bell up to keep my wrist neutral. This keeps some of the pressure off the back of the wrist. So far it’s working with the 20k.

1 Like

Simpler solution: don’t do getups! :laughing: Great exercise… just the bane of my existence.

1 Like

i would recommend buying new , second hand pricing is almost double the cost of new

https://www.dickssportinggoods.com/p/fitness-gear-300-lbolympic-weight-set-16fgeu300lbstwth7brb/16fgeu300lbstwth7brb

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Progear-1600-Ultra-Strength-800lb-Weight-Capacity-Power-Rack-Cage-with-Lock-in-J-Hooks/429573691?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId

i have the above weight set and this rack
well worth the 500 $