Dumbbells are some of the popular weighted-resistance workout tools on the market. They’re versatile, easy to find, and easy to use, and you can train just about anywhere. They’re a type of “free weight,” which means they’re not attached to any type of machine or apparatus, so you can move freely with them for a variety of workout routines.
Barbells are also a type of free weight, but unlike barbells, dumbbells can be used to train and condition just one side of the body at a time. This is important for helping to even out any of your body’s strength imbalances that have occurred because of injury, surgery, or over-training. When you train with dumbbells, you can also move each limb independently if you wish, which means your core has to work harder (and that’s a good thing!) to keep your body from tipping to one side.
SPRI offers durable, easy-to-hold dumbbells coated in rubber or vinyl that come in weights ranging from 1 pound each to 50 pounds each.
Q: This is my first time using dumbbells of any kind. Which weight should I start with?
A: For beginning dumbbell users, it’s especially important to choose a suitable weight to begin training with. If you want to tone your muscles and increase your endurance (as opposed to increasing muscle mass), you should select dumbbell weights that allow you to complete 12-20 repetitions of a chosen exercise before your muscles are too tired to continue. But if your goal is to build muscle mass and definition, choose dumbbell weights that you’re only able to use for about 8 repetitions of a chosen exercise before you feel too tired to continue. You can always move to heavier weights when your muscles become accustomed to the challenge. Before purchasing dumbbells for home use, try several sets at your gym or fitness center to see what works best for you, or ask the advice of your trainer.
Q: How many dumbbell repetitions should beginning users do for each exercise?
A: Beginning dumbbell users should only complete as many repetitions as they can comfortably complete before their muscles get tired; 12-20 is a good amount to start with. However, beginning users of dumbbells and other free weights should pay even more attention to form, rather than rushing through repetitions. Slow movements are just as helpful in building muscle and giving the body a good workout, because the muscles are forced to stabilize themselves to support the weight. Also, try not to overcompensate with another part of your body. For instance, during biceps curls, stand upright to maintain good posture, otherwise the hard work will transfer to your back and your back could get sore or strained. Try practicing proper dumbbell form by working out in front of a mirror. You can also ask a trainer at the gym to demonstrate proper form.
Q: Won’t training with dumbbells make my muscles look unnaturally bulked up?
A: Training with dumbbells will only make you look bulked up if you specifically choose higher-weight dumbbells for that purpose. See the first question above.
Q: I get bored just being in the gym doing biceps curls and other exercise with dumbbells. Are there other workouts I can do that utilize dumbbells?
A: Yes, dumbbells can be used for more than just single-arm exercises at the gym. They can be incorporated into a number of other workouts for a cross-training type experience. For instance, try carrying lightweight dumbbells during long walks; the added weight can help you burn more calories. (However, it’s crucial to know the proper form for walking with weights in hand, because swinging them incorrectly could cause injury to the shoulder joints. Ask an expert or watch an online video to learn proper walking form while using dumbbells.) Some people also add free weights to their yoga practice; this can increase muscle awareness and help boost flexibility and lean muscle mass.