When it comes to weight training, there really is only one question you need to answer: Dumbbells or Barbells? Yes, resistance can come in the form of many different things -- kettlebells, bands, body weight, etc. -- but not every gym has kettlebells and resistance bands, nor does every gym offer a variety of body weight workout stations (e.g. rings, pull-up bars, etc.). But, the two things you will most certainly find in any weight room are sets of dumbbells and several barbells. Thus, the question remains, which do you use?

The answer: Both, for each presents its own unique benefits and costs, says Cameron McGarr, C.S.C.S., writing for Men's Fitness magazine.

Starting first with dumbbells, they help to even out any strength imbalances you may have (especially for beginners). With a barbell, you can sometimes cheat and favor your more dominant side; dumbbells make sure that you're working your body evenly. Another benefit of dumbbells is that they're usually safer to use than barbells, especially when lifting heavy weights.

If, for example, you're unable to complete another rep of dumbbell bench press, you can simply drop the set of dumbbells to the sides of the bench. But, if you're under an iron-loaded barbell and you can't squeeze out that last rep, you may be in for a world of hurt (note: this is one reason why working out with a spotter is a good idea).

So far I've made dumbbells seem like the superior choice over barbells. Time to even the score a bit.

Barbells allow you to lift heavier, which will stimulate better overall muscle growth. This is especially true of many popular exercises for legs, such as squats and, to some degree, deadlifts. As you become stronger, your body will require more resistance in order to continue growing. This may be a perfectly OK arrangement for your legs, but not so much for your grip. So, rather than laboring to keep your fingers wrapped around a set of heavy dumbbells while you perform squats, you'll get more out of placing a barbell across your upper back and doing them that way.

Who is the clear winner? Neither ... and both. As stated, barbells and dumbbells each have their own use and value, just as they each have their own drawbacks. Get the best of both worlds by mixing and matching their use by customizing your workout to achieve maximum results from each.