Barbell and Dumbbell Workouts for Beginners

This post is brought to you by Raphael Konforti, the Fitness Education Coordinator for Youfit.

Visiting any gym for your first time can be a daunting task, especially if you’re just starting out on your fitness journey. With a gym full of equipment you don’t know how to use and people who know what they’re doing, it’s no surprise that you may feel reluctant to venture outside your comfort zone.

Strength training is one of the most beneficial types of training because it burns calories and fat, tones your muscles and increases your strength. If you want to be in the best shape you can be, get familiar with the weights at the gym.

We have compiled a beginner’s guide to dumbbells and barbells, our most basic weights, in hopes that our members can gain confidence when it comes to strength training.

If you are just starting out on your fitness journey and want to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of weightlifting, take a look at our guide below:


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Dumbbells are great for creating balance in the body. Since the weight is distributed equally side to side, you know that one dominant arm or leg won’t take over the exercise. An added benefit of this is that the exercise can be done in many ways. For example, rather than using both arms at once, with dumbbells you can alternate between the left and right to really focus on each arm. Since the weights are separated, it also requires additional stability. Although dumbbells are more challenging to balance than barbells, they help activate small stabilizer muscles that are important for joint health.  

Here are few great dumbbell workouts for beginners:


Dumbbell Row: Works the back and biceps


Seated Overhead Press: Works the shoulders and triceps


Dumbbell Lunge: Works the the thighs and glutes



Barbells are the big movers in the gym. They’re great for building a strong foundation in the body. Barbells require less coordination and stability than dumbbells, making them user-friendly.  Since they’re easier to stabilize, you’ll also be able to lift more weight with barbells than dumbbells.

Barbells come in a few different shapes, sizes and weights. The biggest barbells, which weigh 45 pounds by themselves, can be found in the squat racks. If it’s your first experience with barbells, it’s best to start with smaller barbells that are easier to handle. Youfit has premade barbells found on towers, starting at 20 pounds. These racks also contain barbells that aren’t straight. No, these weren’t bent by some macho man. They’re built this way to make exercises like curls and tricep extensions more comfortable on the wrists. They’re called EZ bars. The name is intuitive because they’re “easier” on the wrists.  

Here are a few of the most effective barbell workouts for beginners:     


Barbell Squat: Works the legs


Bench Press: Works the chest, shoulders and triceps


Deadlift: Works the back, glutes and hamstrings

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Raphael Konforti is the Fitness Education Coordinator for Youfit.  He has a Masters of Exercise Science and has worked in many different areas of fitness including collegiate recreation, international resorts and fitness publishing.  Aside from the gym, he loves spending his time active and outdoors going surfing, diving, hiking, practicing yoga or pushing cars down the street.