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Barbells vs. Dumbbells vs. Machines: Which Is Best For Muscle Growth?

Walking into the gym for the first time, beginners are blown away and often quite unsure where to start. There are bench presses, squat racks, cable machines, dumbbell sections, pin machines, kettlebells, and more — the question is, which of these can we utilize best in order to build the most muscle possible, as efficiently as possible? With the help of our Alpha Bulk Stack 1 (or our v2 with Anadrol) and Alpha Pharm‘s specialized weight training tips, muscle growth will be easier than ever. With so many options inside your gym, it can be hard to decide which type of free-weight or machine to use, so today we’re gonna outline the pros and cons of each, and which is best for muscle growth.


Barbells are long metal bars inside the gym, that can be found on squat racks, bench presses, t-bar rows, and more, that can often be found with weighted plates and collars (A.K.A clips/clamps) on each end. Strength training is one of the most specialized forms of training when it comes to barbell usage. To further induce greater strength gains, try out our highly-sought after NPP! Barbells weigh about 45 pounds (or 20kg) and are great tools for progressive overload, strength training, and muscle hypertrophy when used correctly, but what are some of the pros and cons?


  • Targets muscles, ligaments, and joints heavily
  • Able to lift more weight on barbells than on dumbbells or machines, therefore allowing for greater progressive overload
  • Better for overall strength gain, olympic lifting, and heavy compound movements


  • Can cause muscle imbalances and limit development on weaker muscles
  • Can potentially decrease range of motion
  • More suitable towards strength gains and power gains, as opposed to muscle gain, due to the fact that muscles, limbs and joints used in the movement are fixed to a specific bar path and aren’t allowed complete free motion (as your hands can’t move along the barbell when in motion)
  • Can be difficult to completely isolate certain muscles such as hamstrings, quadriceps, chest, and others



Also in the free-weight department, are dumbbells. Dumbbells in gyms are often found sitting on the dumbbell rack by the mirrors, ranging from 5 pounds all the way up to 150 pound sets. These weights will have a metal grip, with two weights on each end, totalling up to the weight listed on them. These weights are tremendous when it comes to muscle hypertrophy especially, and can provide unreal muscle growth with some of our products such as Testosterone or Dianabol. As suggested by many top bodybuilders including Jay Cutler, dumbbells are potentially the best for muscle growth. Let us tell you why…



  • Paramount for hypertrophy, due to the complete free range of motion (front, back, left, right, down) and no fixed hand positioning or plane of movement
  • Can be an easier alternative to targeting muscles since you can move and really “feel” the muscle during the movement, by choosing a bar path that works best for you
  • Involves supporting muscle groups as well for stability and control (such as your upper back during pressing movements, or your core during RDL’s)
  • Can heal and prevent imbalances between muscles


  • Weights used will be lighter than barbells, limiting progressive overload to a certain extent
  • Weights jump by 5 pounds per dumbbell (as opposed to adding a 2.5 pound plate to a barbell), which can make it harder to progress to further weights on isolation movements such as dumbbell curls or lateral raises
  • Requires good focus on form and balance as differences in form/movement can occur between arm



Generally, beginners will go to machines first out of all equipment, and for good reason — machines are the easiest pieces to use, due to their fixed movement, simple to select weight options, and simplicity. Machines are incomparable to dumbbells and barbells in regards to muscle-mind connection because the movement is already completely done for you by the machine. It’s great to burn your muscles out on these after an intense workout, and recover with ease with the help of some of our recovery anabolic steroids or cannabis products. On machines, all you have to do is extend and contract the muscle, and complete the pre-designed movement with perfection. Therefore, you can perfect your form with ease.


  • Fixed movement makes it easier to isolate and target muscles
  • Allows for a better squeeze and contraction
  • Easy to select weight and progressively overload
  • Simple for beginners
  • Perfect when trying to either warmup the muscle before you start your workout, focus on it mid-workout, or burn it out at the end of your workout


  • Doesn’t effectively target supporting muscle groups, joints, or ligaments as well as dumbbells or barbells
  • Won’t translate well from movement to movement (i.e. when doing a machine shoulder press, it won’t help much in terms of progression on machine chest press, when compared to how much a military press would compliment strength gains on a bench press)
  • Limited range of motion & fixed movement plane limits potential muscle growth


And the winner…

Well, all of these pieces of equipment are efficient for muscle growth, as variety is a key factor to providing your muscles with different stimuli and growth. Barbells provide the ultimate progressive overload which your muscles need for growth, dumbbells specialize in range of motion and mind-muscle connection, and machines can also help with mind-muscle connection and muscle breakdown. All pieces of equipment in the gym will provide the same benefits (progressive overload, range of motion, mind-muscle connection, etc.), but it’s a matter of which provides which, better. With that, it’s important to incorporate all of these types of equipment into your workout regime for maximum muscle growth. For more tips on how to grow muscle efficiently, check out some of our other Alpha Pharm Canada blogs and our product pages for injectables, tablets, and more.

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