Dumbbell Squat vs Barbell Squat

The squat is an excellent exercise if you are looking to build strength in your core, legs and bum. However, with so many different squat varieties out there, it can be hard to know which is the most effective. Here we have compared the dumbbell squat with the barbell squat, and have considered what factors affect the effectiveness of each exercise. If you are looking for the right equipment, check out the what we have recommended as the best squat rack for small space.

Please note that when you complete any type of squat you should make sure that you keep your upper back tight and look up. Also remember to focus on progression by adding reps or weight slowly over time as you become stronger.


Barbell Squats

Barbell squats are a classic exercise for building strength and mass in the lower body, as well as developing core strength and stability, and even improving posture and reducing injury risk in the knees. Barbell squats enable you to use heavy weights, which is essential if you are looking to make some serious gains. When compared to dumbbell squats, barbell squats win in terms of greater strength development.

Barbell squats enable strength development that is more easily converted into sports performance increases. So, if you are looking to make improvements in your sport, then incorporating barbell squats is something you should consider. Although there are not loads of varieties of barbell squat out there, there are two great options, namely the front and back squat. Both varieties are great to incorporate into your strength routine as they help develop muscles in slightly different areas.

  • The back squat is considered the original squat exercise, and it enables the greatest amount of weight to be moved. When done with good technique, the back squat is one of the best lifts that can be completed in order to improve total body strength.
  • The front squat involves resting the barbell on the upper arms, and is considered more of a whole body movement than back squats. Front squats also require more in the way of mobility and strength in the core and upper body, so are often considered a progression from the back squat.


Dumbbell squats

Dumbbell squats are an alternative squat exercise to the barbell squat. Dumbbell squats do not allow as much weight to be moved and so strength gains will unlikely be gained as quickly, however there are many different variations of dumbbell squat out there, and so what they lack in weight, they make up for in variety.

  • For example one option of dumbbell squat is the goblet squat which a similar action to a front squat, but is easier to carry out since there is little need to wrist and shoulder mobility.
  • An additional example is a standard dumbbell front squat which is done by resting the dumbbells on the shoulders or by hanging the dumbbell down by the legs. Both are similar to the action of a barbell front squat, but when the weights hang the exercise brings with it the benefits of a trap bar dead lift too.

What is more, dumbbell squats can help those learning how to squat properly as they are safer than barbell squats, can be modified around injuries, and will reduce the possibility of muscle imbalances



To conclude, both dumbbell and barbell squats are great exercises to incorporate into your routine. They both have different benefits and weaknesses. Dumbbell squats offer a number of different variations so that you won’t get bored, and your muscles will be constantly challenged. Whilst barbell squats may lack in variety, they do allow you to go really heavy, which can help build power and strength quickly. As a result, for maximum effectiveness, and the biggest gains in terms of fitness and strength, why not incorporate both types of squat into your fitness program?