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Heavy dumbbells can help build muscle and burn calories.
Weightlifting, in general, is not a major calorie burner but its effects on your body during and after your workout can have a considerable influence on your waistline. When it comes to lifting weights, it's not the type of weight that's important, but how you use it.
Up the Intensity, Up the Burn
The intensity of your weight lifting workout is one of the primary factors in how many calories you burn. As an example, Harvard Health Publications reports that a 155-pound person lifting weights at a comfortable pace will burn about 112 calories in 30 minutes but if that same person works at a vigorous pace, the calorie burn will be doubled to 223 calories. One way to increase the intensity of your workout is to complete one exercise directly after the other. Because dumbbells are more versatile than barbells, they are more effective for this type of workout. When working with a barbell, you have to readjust the bar after every exercise. But with heavy dumbbells you can move smoothly from one exercise to the next, decreasing your rest periods and increasing your calorie burn.
Build Muscle to Burn Calories
The actual act of lifting weights is not where the majority of the calories are used. The big calorie burn comes as your body repairs and builds muscle. When you lift weights, you create tiny tears in the muscle tissue. Your body then must repair these tears, making the muscle stronger and bigger. Heavier weights cause greater damage and build bigger muscles. While you can use heavy dumbbells, they cannot match the potential weight of a loaded barbell. In this aspect, a barbell is more beneficial. Adding muscle to your body comes with the additional perk of giving your metabolism a boost so that you burn more total calories throughout the day.
Move More to Burn More
Heavy dumbbells or a barbell can be used to work nearly every single muscle in your body. The more muscle groups you work at one time, the more calories you will burn. As far as weight selection goes, you can move more weight in the form of a barbell than heavy dumbbells. For example, performing a 100-pound barbell squat is a relatively simple task for an experienced lifter. Holding a 50-pound dumbbell in each hand to perform a squat will pose much more of a challenge and chances are your grip will give out long before your leg muscles fatigue. In order to build more muscle and burn more calories, barbells are the way to go.
If you're a beginner you may be better off using dumbbells -- they are easier to control than a barbell and make learning new exercises a bit easier than their large, cumbersome counterpart. Always consult with your health care provider before beginning a new exercise program. Strength training is an intense activity and may exacerbate any underlying health problems so be sure to advise your health care provider of any existing health problems.