Why CrossFitters Should Use Dumbbells

Dumbbells can provide more stimulus, coordination, and skill transfer for the modern CrossFit athlete.

Look, I’ll be the first to say the barbell is the single greatest strength tool known to man. But about a year ago, some words from Greg Glassman got me thinking. His recommendations for the modern CrossFit athlete? Glassman urged CrossFit enthusiasts to get a bigger deadlift, mature their handstand and use more dumbbells.


I find the request for bigger deadlifts a likely rebuttal to the spike in higher skill expression of strength in the clean-and-jerk and snatch. The handstand was a call, in my opinion, to return to the fundamentals. The dumbbell recommendation seemed more deeply rooted, and the wheels started turning in my brain. 

Glassman spoke about the increased demand of dealing with two independent loads (like dumbbells) as a worthy departure from the barbell to the extent of variance. While dumbbells are more expensive and difficult to store than barbells and plates, Glassman has a wonderful point.

If we’re chronically going overhead with a barbell (power cleaning, squatting, etc.), the willingness to use dumbbells might propose a justified use beyond variance. It will promote left and right balance, increased stabilization and intramuscular coordination.

Look back on your program. You’ll likely find a bias toward the barbell and plenty of opportunities to get dumbbells in your hands. If you don’t take my word for it, take Coach’s.