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The case for using dumbbell exercises as part of your strength training program is well-established. Better balance, greater contribution from support muscles, the ability to train unilaterally and to self-spot – the list goes on. But to this, we add some real-world examples.
Dumbbells are all too often ignored in the acquisition of limit strength, or the amount of force you can exert in one go. By no means is this a slam against barbell training. The bottom line is that to maximize strength and the development of hypertrophy, dumbbell training, in some form, must be part of your repertoire.
Pat Casey, the first man to bench press 600 pounds in 1967, built a large part of his strength with extremely heavy dumbbell press variations. In the 47 years since then, only a handful of men have duplicated this feat. Chuck Ahrens, half-man, half-legend, built what many iron game historians believe to be the widest shoulders of all-time with primarily dumbbell exercises. Ronnie Coleman, the greatest bodybuilder of all-time and with world-class strength levels to match, loved him some heavy dumbbell work.
If it was good enough for these men, perhaps it’s good enough for the rest of us. Here are five key moves that can help you start building your own strength legend.
Josh Bryant, MFS, CSCS, PES, is the owner of JoshStrength.com and co-author of The Complete Guide to Dumbbell Training: A Scientific Approach. His other titles, Jailhouse Strong and Built to the Hilt, are now available at Amazon and EliteFTS. He is a strength coach at Metroflex Gym in Arlington, Texas, and holds 12 world records in powerlifting. You can connect with him on Twitter and Facebook or visit his website at www.joshstrength.com.
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