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Dumbbell Training: There's More Going On Than You Think

Dec 12, 2007
Dumbbell training is one of the most productive forms of exercise you can do. And no, I'm not talking about those light weight "isolation" exercises targeting small muscles. I'm talking about using dumbbells in unison, one limb at a time and in an alternating fashion. These movement patterns more closely resemble movements you encounter in the real world, and therefore are extra beneficial.

But there are a couple of things going one with dumbbell training below the surface that don't get talked about a lot, and this is what I want to talk about today. For example, what is the relationship between the brain and your muscles when exercising with dumbbells? This is a very important aspect of training that doesn't get talked about a lot.

I always like to think of the body as a whole. This is very different than bodybuilding style training where they like to split the body into parts and train them separately. And when I say "whole" I mean WHOLE. I think of how each exercises stimulates the muscles needed to perform the movement, how the heart and lungs support the movement and how the brain facilitates the movement. As you can see, this is a little more complicated than "Biceps curl makes biceps big".

So, let's look at some of the brain-muscle connection when using dumbbells.

Did you know that if you train one limb exclusively, the other limb will also get a little stronger? This is called "cross education". You see, strength is not only about the size of the muscle, but the efficiency of the brains ability to send the message to perform the movement with strength. When you train one side of your body, your brain applies the training to the other side as well. The strength gains are not equal, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a little something extra going on behind the scenes of your dumbbell workouts.

Did you know that the sum of your single limb efforts is often greater than the total amount you can do with both limbs? There are many reasons for this. One is the fact that your body recruits more muscle fibers when performing single limb lifts for stabilization purposes. More muscle fibers means you can lift heavier weights. Another reason is because often one limb is stronger than the other, allowing you to lift more with that limb. But when you lift with both limbs at the same time, the brain reduces the force of the stronger limb for a more balanced effort. This means your two limb strength is less than the sum of each limb separately.

As you can see, there is a connection between the brain and your body that influences how you perform and how much strength you can command.

If you are currently neglecting your dumbbell training, you should add unilateral training into your overall fitness program. It will not only allow you to build a more balanced body, but it will teach the brain to recruit more muscle for common, everyday movements. This means you build a more symmetrical body with more strength. Often, it is what goes on behind the scenes that produces the most benefits.
About the Author
Coach Eddie Lomax is giving away a valuable Special Report called, "Why Dumbbells Are My Secret Weapon For Building Six-Pack Abs You Can See In The Shortest Time Possible!" Get yours today, while it's still free.
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