Dumbbel: How heavy
Most people will work with dumbbells between 5 to 20kg depending on the exercise. If you make it into the 20 to 50kg range you can consider yourself strong.
What is your goal
The most important thing for exercise selection for your routines is that you are focused on the goals you want to achieve. Most of the times this is easier said than done. Many beginners want everything and nothing:
I want to look like a model, but eat well
I want to be strong, but not look bulky
I want to run fast, but I don’t like cardio
These are just some examples of goal sets of beginners. It is completely normal to be timid or unsure about what you want to achieve and can achieve. It always helps to prioritize first what is important to you. The fields usually are:
You can categorize it in a million different ways, but to keep it simple prioritize these five for yourself.
Looks are all about what you see in movies, on Instagram and the magazine covers. While these are highly artificial, fabricated images of people, their impact on social life is very real. If you look for fame or financial success based on your looks you can achieve this, just be aware that the choices you will make to get there are not necessarily healthy, make you enduring, strong or well-performing in sports. Eating disorders and steroids might provide an outstanding look, but don’t help you to be strong or have healthy sperm.
If your main focus is health you will mainly choose moderate diets and exercise regimen. You won’t go crazy on diets or schedules as this means too much stress. This will keep you healthy but probably never get you to the pinnacles is endurance, strength, looks or endurance. But that is ok as long as you are fertile and happy.
Performance is usually sports-related. This means that endurance and strength training is still important, but play a secondary role to skill practice in the relevant sport you pursue. It is of not of a lot of use to be strong like a bull but not being able to skate if you play ice hockey. The good news about sports is that looks don’t matter that much. If you are a blob that can lift a fire truck in a very truck lifting competition, nobody cares that you are not ripped or have shining white teeth. Even though that might help to attract sponsors.
If you are mainly into strength you can park all efforts and time on endurance and skill practice. You can fully focus on lifting barbells, stones, and other heavy objects. You might even toss them in the general direction of people in the gym who get on your nerves.
If you are mainly about endurance you can spent your time on your long runs, swims and cycles around the country and maybe never look at a rack. Yes, you might not be the strongest or most buff, but who cares when you cycle the Ardennes with a smile.
Prioritizing these five areas for yourself will help to make it a lot clearer to you, your GP and your personal trainer which exercises to pick and at which intensity to perform. This will determine which rack is the best for you or whether you need one at all.
How to use your dumbbell
A dumbbell is basically a short version of a barbell. You have a handle with weights on each end. Depending on the weight the handle can be a little thicker or thinner. The heavier the dumbbell the thicker the handle usually is.
Place your hand on the handle and grip it in the middle. Depending on which exercise you will be doing get into your starting position. In some exceptions like Goblet squats, you will hold on to the weight rather than the handle to control it with both hands. Start with light weights and slow movements. Speed and strength will come in time. When you are done with your exercises out the dumbbells back into the rack from where you got them.
How many sets to do with a dumbbell
This can have many answers based on your goals, diet and current fitness level. There are some common tendencies in strength training independently of whether you use a barbell, machines or dumbbells to reach your goals.
More than 10 sets
This is usually the cardio or circuit training ( read CrossFit) area. Go with low weights and little rest between sets. The purpose is to get your heart pumping and sweat.
5 - 10 sets
This is usually the muscle-building are depending ok how many repetitions you do per set. Programs with 5 - 10 sets are commonly used in bodybuilding or mass-building phases of powerlifting and weightlifting programs.
3- 5 sets
This is the area that usually is used in powerlifting or weightlifting programs to focus on strength. The repetitions per set are usually lower than in the first two options. The rest between sets is longer.
The beat Programmes usually weave muscle bulking and strength phases into each other over a longer Persia’s of time. These cycles range anywhere from a month to three months. Jim Stoppanis shortcut time strength is a good example of this.
How many reps to do with a dumbbell
This again depends on your training goals, fitness level, and diet. The rules are similar to what to do with a barbell or machines.
Above 15 repetitions
You are in the cardio or circuit training area. Use lower weights and focus on good form with speed to keep the heart pumping. This is usually better for weight loss and less effective for building strength.
10 - 15 repetitions
This is usually the area of repetitions per set in which bodybuilders chase the pump. Give or take a rep or two.
5 - 10 reps
This is usually the range of repetitions per set in which bodybuilders go heavier for strength and to mix their training up or powerlifters and weightlifters go for muscle growth.
3 -5 repetitions
The area in which strength athletes mostly work in training
Which weight to use with a dumbbell
It depends on your build and fitness level. Many people can start with 5 or 10kg and move their way up from there. In terms of repetitions per set, you should be able to finish most of the sets and maybe in the last two sets not yet all of the repetitions. Once you can do all it is time to move up in weight.
Pros of dumbbell training
Training with a dumbbell saves space compared to barbells and machines. You also have more freedom to move as the bigger equipment usually limits range of motion based on sheer size.
Cons of dumbbell training
Dumbbells can get very awkward to maneuver when they get heavy. They lack the stability of a barbell or machine to handle the big weights. They are also not as modular apart from some new developments like the loadable dumbbell from Rogue.
Alternatives to dumbbell training
You can also use
Dumbbells how heavy
Most weekend warriors will be somewhere between 5 to 20kg. Anyone above has a lot of experience under their belt.