One of the biggest benefits of working out with dumbbells is that you can’t “cheat” your workout by having your dominant side take over when you’re struggling. Dumbbells force the lifter to apply equal effort from both sides of the body. While switching to dumbbells for most of your workouts will increase your symmetry and functional strength results, we have explored options for further functionality and balance.
Use dumbbells of different weights (a difference of five to ten pounds at most) and perform workouts on an unstable surface such as a Bosu ball or workout ball. We perform at least two of the three of the reps with the heavier weight in the non-dominant side.
Not only does this increase the strength of our non-dominant muscles, but the unbalanced surface and weight differences require intense concentration and balance. This results in a tremendous amount of core muscle activation and a number of other “stabilizer” muscles being brought to the party.
If this feels unnatural at first, start with a smaller weight difference between dumbbells, and begin on a flat surface. Work your way up to a ten pound difference and the unbalanced surface.