You’re able to life 17% more weight with a barbell than with dumbbells

A new study from Norway has determined that the barbell bench press activates your triceps significantly more than the dumbbell bench does.That’s because the barbell is more stable, the scientists say. If you want to hit your triceps even harder, use a shoulder-width grip and try to tear the bar apart as you push it up from your chest.

That’s not to say that you should skip the dumbbell entirely. Straight from our told-you-so file, scientists in Japan found that men built more muscle by doing three sets of 10 dumbbell curls than by doing just one set. What makes the study unique? Twice a week, the lifters did the three-set routine with one arm and the one-set routine with the other. So genetic differences among lifters weren’t a factor.

Here’s how much those two extra sets helped.

Muscle gain 8% – 13%
Strength gain 20% – 32%