Contents

How much dumbbell weight is normal for a beginner?

As a beginner, if you have never done weights before, the first exercise you are likely to try is the good old Bicep Curl (I’m guessing here).

As a beginner, most people if you asked would advise you to go to a gym first in order to get used to working your muscles under safe conditions, where a/ the machines control your movement, and b/ where you can ask for advice if unsure.

But this is not your question.

I first got into weights with a cheap barbell & dumbbell set, as did my son – so there is absolutely nothing wrong with this.

The only thing you are likely to be lacking is knowing the correct technique for your arms and wrists etc.

For a beginner it may not make that much difference, but as you progress, technique can have you huge impact on your muscle growth as well as injury prevention now and in the future.

As for how much is normal? Very hard to say without watching you perform various exercises. When your technique starts failing, then you know you’ve passed the weight you can comfortably lift/press for that specific exercise.

The benefit here for going to a gym is that you have access to a full range of dumbbelss of differing weights, which you are unlikely to have access to at home.

Always best to start off with a lighter weight, perfect the technique and then increase the weight gradually with each workout session.

Hope this helps 🙂

What weight Dumbbells should a Beginner use? For Men and Women

Whether you’re male or female, if you’re a beginner and starting weight training, it can be tough to know how much weight you’re actually supposed to be lifting, especially if you’re using dumbbells.

It makes it even trickier to figure out which dumbbells you need when you consider that different exercises are working different muscle groups. This means you’ll need to adjust the weight for each part of your body as different muscles require different levels of resistance in order to grow and get stronger.

But fear not, by the end of this article you’ll be fully equipped to figuring out how much weight you should be using for your dumbbell workouts.

What weight dumbbells should a beginner use? Start light and focus on perfecting your form of the movements. Your goal should be to complete 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps of each exercise with perfect technique. Once this has been achieved, gradually increase your dumbbell weight by between 2.5lb – 10lb depending on your strength and the movement pattern until completing 1 set of 10 – 15 reps is moderately challenging by the final rep.

This same technique can be applied to both men and women and will give you a good idea of where to start.

If you’re still confused or need a more specific answer it may be worth taking these tips into consideration first.

What does ‘light weight’ mean to YOU

Giving a generic answer to the question what weight dumbbells should a I use? is impossible because the numbers are going to vary from person to person. It’s going to vary depending on a huge range of factors including age, gender, height, size and experience to name a few.

Not only that, but the weights are going to change depending on the part of the body you’re targeting. For example, the side deltoids (small muscles on the sides of your shoulders) aren’t going handle the same weight as your huge quadriceps (muscles on the front of your legs).

For now, don’t worry about the weight too much. As mentioned above, make your main focus performing each movement pattern correctly and with perfect form.

You may find that you have trouble performing some of these movements correctly without any weight at all, and if you do that’s fine! If you’re new it takes time for your body to get used to this so go at your own pace.

Just work with a weight which is comfortable for you for the time being and don’t push it too hard in the early stages. As you get stronger and progress the weights will get heavier, and by taking it slow now and by getting your form perfected you’ll make more gains in the long term.

Here’s why it’s important to begin with light weights

When you first begin on your weight training journey, it can be tempting to push the weights up as fast as possible. This is especially true for guys who feel embarrassed when they’re new and feel really weak compared to everyone else.

But while weight training can be hugely beneficial to the body, it can also be dangerous if not respected. Check out my other articles on mistakes to avoid and the benefits of weight training.

Ego lifting with bad form may not cause any concerns or injuries in the short term, but over a long period of time it can cause chronic issues to your joints, tendons and ligaments.

What’s worse is the more lifting you do with bad form, the harder it is to correct as you get used to the movement patterns.

This is why I stress using light weights in the early days and mastering the form before attempting heavier weights.

The Central Nervous System and why it’s important

The Central Nervous System (CNS) Is directly responsible for the transmission of impulses to all the muscles over our entire body. It plays a huge role in our muscular strength and power. The heavier you lift, the greater the response from the CNS.

For more information on the CNS I suggest reading these articles from Livestrong.com and trainheroic.com.

So how does this apply to you?

Well in the early days, your CNS may freak out as it adjusts to the new movements and stresses you place upon it. I know it did for me! The movements like the squat or deadlift incorporate so many muscles that it can be a shock to your system if you’ve never done them before.

In the early days, you may feel sick or badly fatigued after a dumbbell workout if you push it too hard, but after a few weeks of consistent lifting your body will adapt and you’ll find it becomes easier. This is the point you can begin increasing the weights and pushing outside of your comfort zone.

CNS issues are usually associated with Powerlifting and heavy weightlifting where athletes train around their 1 Rep Max, but it also occasionally effects beginners in a similar way.

There’s huge debate around the CNS with some believing the symptoms are all a myth. There’s a huge chance this won’t even affect you, especially if you’re training light with dumbbells.

That being said, I mention this because it was something i struggled with in the beginning. Especially with the dumbbell compound lifts like the ones below in this article.

How long should I take before increasing the weight?

As mentioned above, this will vary from person to person so it’ll be up to you to judge when you’re ready. Getting used to the movement patterns and being able to perform the form correctly will come quicker to some than others.

If you train 2 – 3 times a week consistently I imagine someone who takes longer to get comfortable with the movement patterns should be ready by no later than 3 weeks. This is a general answer as others may be ready after their first couple of workouts.

Learning the techniques is something which you continue to do throughout your entire weight training journey, but getting comfortable and efficient with the very basics is something which will come fairly quickly with consistent training.

That being said here’s a solid guideline which should help you find the right weight.

Establishing your strength levels

Once you’re able to perform 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps with ease, with about 30 seconds to 1 minute rest period between sets, it’s time to increase to weight.

Ideally you want to find a point at which the 10 – 15 rep becomes difficult while maintaining good form. From here you’ve found a suitable weight to which your body will start to grow and adapt which means you’ll start getting stronger and fitter.

Once the new weight you’re performing becomes easy, increase the weight again by between 2.5lbs and 5lbs and repeat.

Why do 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps on every movement?

This rep and set range is a solid foundation to start with. As you progress and get more experienced you can adjust the numbers to suit your goals and with what works best for you.

Higher reps than 10 – 15 and the muscle isn’t receiving enough tension to encourage growth. You’ll be moving into more endurance training which isn’t going to be best if your goal is to build muscle and strength.

Lower reps than 10 – 15 and the stress will be too much as a beginner. Especially if you’re new to the movements, you’ll leave yourself open to injury and won’t get the best results as a beginner.

10 – 15 rep of 3 sets is a good amount of volume to get used to the movements while at the same time encouraging hypertrophy (muscle growth).

While working at this rep and set range, you’ll start to gain a better understanding of how muscles respond differently depending on the weight you’re using and the movement you’re performing. Ultimately this will result in you getting a better idea of your strength levels and also get an idea of the ‘feel’ of each muscle group.

Speed of reps

A rep is comprised of 2 movements. The eccentric and concentric. This basically describes the ‘up’ and ‘down’ movement of the weight. For example, a bicep curl involves the curling of the dumbbell (eccentric) and the lowering of the dumbbell back to the start position (concentric). Every weight training movement follows this pattern.

Your job is the control both parts of the movement. This will be for maximum hypertrophy and injury prevention.

Each rep should take 2 – 3 seconds to lift the weight, then 2 – 3 seconds to lower the weight. Slow and controlled.

It may seem harder than performing the rep really quickly but that’s the idea! Time under tension is what will encourage your muscles to grow, and by controlling the weight in this manner you’ll learn about how your muscles work and learn the techniques much faster.

Here’s why the number on the weights DON’T actually matter

As mentioned above, slow and controlled will be harder than quick reps, and so you’ll have to use lighter weights. In fact, more experienced bodybuilders with amazing technique will be able to use tiny weights for maximum effect to encourage muscle growth.

As you progress and get stronger, the numbers on the dumbbells will go up, and it’ll feel good to physically see yourself getting stronger and fitter, but don’t rush it or get obsessed by it.

Your body doesn’t know what the number on the weights are, it just responds to time under tension, and so that should be your focus with great technique.

A far more valuable number to track is the number of times you train per week. Nothing will help your dumbbell workouts more than consistent training 2 – 4 times a week on a regular basis.

Dumbbell workouts

Give a man a pair of dumbbells, and he can crank out a few sets of curls and bulk up his biceps. But give a man a pair of dumbbells and a plan, and he can change his entire body in a month.

When it comes to the dumbbells, all we can offer is assistance in picking out the best set possible – our comprehensive round-up of the best dumbbells available caters to all budgets and has options for all types of dumbbells, although our top recommendation is a pair of BodyPower Rubber Hex. When it comes to the plan, however, we can offer a lot more.

This four-week, four-workouts-a-week training plan is guaranteed to get results if you follow it to the letter. And we really do mean to the letter, because the plan goes into great detail on not only the exercises, sets and reps you should do, but also the tempo at which you should work to ensure you maximise your results.

The workouts in the plan are made up of supersets, where you do pairs of exercises back to back to keep your muscles under tension for as long as possible. This is one of the most effective ways to use dumbbells in your training, helping to strip away fat as well as building lean muscle. Supersets are a tough way to train, but one month from now, when you’re sporting a broader chest, bulging biceps, titanic triceps and a set of abs that will make your washing machine redundant, it will all have been worth it.

Once you’ve selected your weights, check out the guide below, which explains how to follow this training plan and how it has been structured to be as effective as possible, then get ready to take on the plan itself.

How The Plan Works

Here’s the theory behind your four-week muscle plan

1. Body part splits

This four-week plan includes four workouts a week. Each of the four hits a different body part. Workout 1 each week targets your chest and back; workout 2 your arms (biceps and triceps); workout 3 your legs and abs; and workout 4 your shoulders.

The body-part workouts have been selected to help you add muscle mass and transform your torso as quickly as possible.

The first three workouts each week hit two different muscle groups, so that while one body part is working, the other recovers, allowing you to keep the intensity level high and lift the heaviest weight possible with good form to stimulate the maximum amount of muscle growth.

2. Workout structure

All four weekly sessions comprise six exercises divided into three supersets, labelled 1A and 1B, 2A and 2B, and 3A and 3B. In a superset you pair two exercises and perform them back to back, only resting after doing all the reps of the second move. Once all the sets and reps of the first superset are completed, you move on to the second superset and so on.

This approach is fantastic for building muscle faster because supersets maximise both the intensity and the quality of your sets. And the harder you can push your muscles in the gym, the more damage gets done to muscle tissue, which is then rebuilt bigger and stronger when you recover.

3. Workout variables

The only way to keep making fast progress when you’re aiming to add lean muscle mass is to follow a progressive training plan that keeps challenging your body in new ways each week. That’s the key to keeping your muscles out of their comfort zone and working as hard as possible so your body has no choice but to keep building back your damaged muscle fibres bigger and stronger.

At the top of each exercise breakdown for the first week are details about each move, including sets, rest, tempo and rest (for weeks two, three and four this information is listed in tables). Tempo 2010 = 2sec to lower, 0sec pause at the bottom, 1sec to lift, 0sec pause at the top.

It is imperative you stick exactly to these workout variables because this plan has been designed to provide a progressively challenging workout so you can add the maximum amount of muscle tissue in four weeks.

For example, in week one you’ll do four sets of ten reps per move, which increases to four sets of 12 in week two. In weeks three and four you’ll do five sets of ten and 12 reps respectively, so every week is harder than the previous week. What’s more, in weeks three and four the tempo (the time it takes to do the lifting and lowering for each rep) changes to make the exercises more challenging, so your target muscles experience more time under tension and workload.

What Next?

Ready to take your training to the next level? Our friends at the New Body Plan can help. Their training and nutrition plans can transform your body in just eight weeks.

Start today | £69, use code coach20 for an exclusive £20 discount

Workout 1: Chest And Back (Week 1)

1A Floor press

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 0sec Tempo 2010

How Lie flat on the floor, holding a dumbbell in each hand above your chest with straight arms. Lower the weights towards your chest, then press them back up powerfully to return to the start.

Why Lying on the floor puts you in a stable position so you can attempt to go quite heavy with this move. The range of motion is shorter than a bench press, so focus on contracting the chest muscles being targeted.

1B Hammer bent-over row

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 60sec Tempo 2010

How Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing each other. Bend forward, hingeing at the hips, then row the weights up to your sides, leading with your elbows. Lower the weights back to the start under control.

Why This move hits the major muscles of your upper back, while your lower back gets worked to keep your torso upright. Using a hammer grip also hits your forearms and improves grip strength.

2A Dumbbell press-up

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 0sec Tempo 2010

How Get into position with your feet together and hands holding dumbbells shoulder-width apart. Brace your core so your body is straight from head to heels. Bend your elbows to lower your chest, then press back up powerfully.

Why You might think press-ups are easy, but they are still a useful chest-building move – especially when you factor in the instability of the weights to work your chest, as well as your core, harder.

2B Reverse flye

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 60sec Tempo 2010

How Bend forwards from the hips with a light dumbbell in each hand, palms facing. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, raise the weights out to shoulder height, then lower them back to the start.

Why This move looks a lot harder than it is, and it works wonders for your upper back and rear shoulders. Start with light weights and master the movement pattern to maximise muscle gain and minimise the risk of injury.

3A Wide dumbbell press-up

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 0sec Tempo 2010

How Get into position with your feet together and hands holding dumbbells wide apart. Brace your core so your body is straight from head to heels. Bend your elbows to lower your chest, then press back up powerfully.

Why Placing your hands in a wider position reduces the involvement of your triceps and shoulders, so your chest has to do more of the hard work to lift and lower your torso.

3B Renegade row

Sets 4 Reps 10 each side Rest 60sec Tempo 2010

How Get into position with your feet together and hands holding dumbbells shoulder-width apart. Brace your core so your body is straight from head to heels. Row the weight up, leading with your elbow. Alternate arms.

Why It works your upper back one side at a time so you can fully engage each of the muscles, as well as recruiting your core and shoulder joints to keep your body stable.

Week 2

Exercise Sets Reps Rest Tempo
1A Floor press 4 12 0sec 2010
1B Hammer bent-over row 4 12 60sec 2010
2A Dumbbell press-up 4 12 0sec 2010
2B Reverse flye 4 12 60sec 2010
3A Wide dumbbell press-up 4 12 0sec 2010
3B Renegade row 4 12 each side 60sec 2010

Week 3

Exercise Sets Reps Rest Tempo
1A Floor press 5 10 0sec 2010
1B Hammer bent-over row 5 10 60sec 2011
2A Dumbbell press-up 5 10 0sec 3010
2B Reverse flye 5 10 60sec 2011
3A Wide dumbbell press-up 5 10 0sec 3010
3B Renegade row 5 10 each side 60sec 2011

Week 4

Exercise Sets Reps Rest Tempo
1A Floor press 5 12 0sec 2010
1B Hammer bent-over row 5 12 60sec 2011
2A Dumbbell press-up 5 12 0sec 3010
2B Reverse flye 5 12 60sec 2011
3A Wide dumbbell press-up 5 12 0sec 3010
3B Renegade row 5 12 each side 60sec 2011

Workout 2: Arms (Week 1)

1A Biceps curl

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 0sec Tempo 2010

How Stand with dumbbells by your sides and palms facing forwards. Keeping your elbows tucked in to your sides, curl the weights up, squeezing your biceps at the top. Lower them back to the start.

Why It’s the classic biceps lift for good reason: performing this move perfectly is one of the fastest ways to add size to your biceps. Just keep your reps controlled to avoid swinging the dumbbells up and down.

1B Triceps extension

Sets 4 Reps 10 each side Rest 60sec Tempo 2010

How Stand tall, holding a dumbbell over your head with one hand and arm straight. Keeping your chest up, lower the weight behind your head, then raise it back to the start. Do all the reps with one arm and then switch and repeat.

Why Working one arm at a time allows you to focus on making your triceps work hard to keep the dumbbell under complete control throughout the lift and lower, while your core must be engaged to keep your torso upright.

2A Hammer curl

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 0sec Tempo 2010

How Stand with dumbbells by your sides and palms facing each other. Keeping your elbows tucked in to your sides, curl the weights up, squeezing your biceps at the top. Lower them back to the start.

Why Adjusting your wrist position so that your palms face each other for the entirety of the set shifts the workload to a different part of your biceps muscles, as well as recruiting your forearms.

2B Triceps kick-back

Sets 4 Reps 10 each side Rest 60sec Tempo 2010

How Lean forward from your hips, keeping your back straight and arm bent holding a dumbbell. Raise the weight behind you until your arm is straight, then lower back to the start. Do all the reps on one side, then repeat with the other arm.

Why The key to making this an effective triceps-building move is to make sure you fully contract the working muscle as you straighten your arm, and then to lower the dumbbell back to the start position under full control.

3A Spider curl

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 0sec Tempo 2010

How Bend down and rest your elbows on your thighs, holding a dumbbell in each hand with arms straight. Curl the weights up, squeeze your biceps at the top, then lower back to the start under control.

Why It may raise a few eyebrows in the gym, but this exercise works your biceps through a full range of motion so you hit them from a slightly different angle, meaning even more muscle fibres are recruited.

3B Narrow dumbbell press-up

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 60sec Tempo 2010

How Get into position with your feet together and hands holding dumbbells that are touching. Brace your core so your body is straight from head to heels. Bend your elbows to lower your chest, then press back up powerfully.

Why Bringing your hands close together reduces the involvement of your chest and shoulders so your triceps muscles have to do a lot more of the hard work to lift and lower your torso.

Exercise Sets Reps Rest Tempo
1A Biceps curl 4 12 0sec 2010
1B Triceps extension 4 12 each side 60sec 2010
2A Hammer curl 4 12 0sec 2010
2B Triceps kick-back 4 12 each side 60sec 2010
3A Spider curl 4 12 0sec 2010
3B Narrow dumbbell press-up 4 12 60sec 2010
Exercise Sets Reps Rest Tempo
1A Biceps curl 5 10 0sec 2011
1B Triceps extension 5 10 each side 60sec 2011
2A Hammer curl 5 10 0sec 2011
2B Triceps kick-back 5 10 each side 60sec 2011
3A Spider curl 5 10 0sec 2011
3B Narrow dumbbell press-up 5 10 60sec 2010
Exercise Sets Reps Rest Tempo
1A Biceps curl 5 12 0sec 2011
1B Triceps extension 5 12 each side 60sec 2011
2A Hammer curl 5 12 0sec 2011
2B Triceps kick-back 5 12 each side 60sec 2011
3A Spider curl 5 12 0sec 2011
3B Narrow dumbbell press-up 5 12 60sec 2010

Workout 3: Legs And Abs (Week 1)

1A Squat

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 0sec Tempo 2010

How Stand tall holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your chest up and core braced, squat down as deep as you can. Push back up through your heels to return to the start position.

Why It’s the classic lift for building bigger and stronger legs and because it’s a big compound lift that recruits multiple muscle groups, it’s also effective at torching belly fat too.

1B Woodchop

Sets 4 Reps 10 each side Rest 60sec Tempo 2010

How Stand holding a dumbbell in both hands to one side. Squat down then stand back up while raising the weight up and across your body until it’s above your shoulder. Reverse the movement. Do all the reps then switch sides.

Why It’s not as well known as other abs exercises, but do it right and you will build muscle across your entire core, as well as working your shoulders and lower back.

2A Lunge

Sets 4 Reps 10 each side Rest 0sec Tempo 2010

How Stand with a dumbbell in each hand. With your chest up and core braced, take a big step forward with one foot until both knees are bent 90°, then push off your front foot to return to the start. Do all the reps with one leg, then switch.

Why The lunge provides many of the same benefits as the squat but with even more core-sculpting advantages because your abs must work overtime to keep your body stable as you lower and raise.

2B Halo

Sets 4 Reps 10 each side Rest 60sec Tempo 2010

How Stand tall holding a dumbbell in both hands in front of your face. Raise it and move it around your head in a clockwise direction. Do all the reps, then repeat in an anti-clockwise direction.

Why It will work your abs, which must be fully braced and engaged to keep your torso stable and upright, and it will improve the strength and mobility of your delicate shoulder joints for added injury-prevention benefits.

3A Goblet squat

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 0sec Tempo 2010

How Stand tall holding one end of a dumbbell with both hands. Squat down, keeping your back straight and core braced, until the weight almost touches the group. Stand back up to return to the start.

Why At this point of the session your legs will already be close to fatigue but this move, with a single dumbbell as resistance, will tax a few more muscle fibres for growth and keep your heart rate high for fat-loss benefits.

3B Crunch

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 60sec Tempo 2010

How Lie flat on the floor, holding a dumbbell across your chest. Engage your abs, then raise your torso off the floor. Squeeze your abs at the top, then lower yourself slowly and under control.

Why The crunch is great for developing your upper abs, but only if you do it right. And the added resistance of the dumbbell will force those muscles to up their game to lift and lower your torso without help from momentum.

Exercise Sets Reps Rest Tempo
1A Squat 4 12 0sec 2010
1B Woodchop 4 12 each side 60sec 2010
2A Lunge 4 12 each side 0sec 2010
2B Halo 4 12 each side 60sec 2010
3A Goblet squat 4 12 each side 0sec 2010
3B Crunch 4 12 60sec 2010
Exercise Sets Reps Rest Tempo
1A Squat 5 10 0sec 3010
1B Woodchop 5 10 each side 60sec 1111
2A Lunge 5 10 each side 0sec 3010
2B Halo 5 10 each side 60sec 1111
3A Goblet squat 5 10 each side 0sec 3010
3B Crunch 5 10 60sec 2011
Exercise Sets Reps Rest Tempo
1A Squat 5 12 0sec 3010
1B Woodchop 5 12 each side 60sec 1111
2A Lunge 5 12 each side 0sec 3010
2B Halo 5 12 each side 60sec 1111
3A Goblet squat 5 12 each side 0sec 3010
3B Crunch 5 12 60sec 2011

Workout 4: Shoulders (Week 1)

1A Overhead press

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 0sec Tempo 2010

How Stand tall holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height. Keeping your chest up, press the weights directly overhead until your arms are straight, then lower them back to the start.

Why The key to building bigger, wider shoulders is to make these muscles work through their full range of motion, so make sure you lower the dumbbells all the way back to the start position at the end of each rep.

1B Lateral raise

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 60sec Tempo 2010

How Stand with dumbbells by your sides and palms facing each other. Lean forward slightly, then raise the weights to the sides, leading with your elbows. Slowly lower them back to the start under control.

Why This is a fantastic move for hitting your side delts – the section of the shoulder muscles that, when developed, creates a strong and wide upper body to help create the coveted V-shaped torso.

2A Arnold press

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 0sec Tempo 2010

How Stand tall with a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height with palms facing you. Press the weights directly overhead, rotating your wrists as you lift, until your arms are straight, then lower them back to the start.

Why It’s a similar lift to the straight overhead press, except your wrists rotate as you move the weights – and it’s this added movement that will fire up even more muscle fibres.

2B Upright row

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 60sec Tempo 2010

How Stand tall holding a pair of dumbbells in front of your body with straight arms. Keeping your chest up and leading with your elbows, row the weights up until your hands reach chin height. Lower back to the start.

Why Building bigger shoulders means you also need to work your traps, which is what this lift does brilliantly. Don’t go too heavy at first – it’s better to perform quality reps than max-weight ones – and never jerk the weights up and down.

3A Front raise

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 0sec Tempo 2010

How Stand tall holding a pair of dumbbells in front of your body with straight arms. Keeping your chest up and arms straight, raise the weights in front of you to shoulder hit. Lower back to the start.

Why This lift hits the front of your shoulders predominantly and, as with all shoulder moves, make sure you are controlling the weight at all times – it should never be controlling you. You can’t add muscle if you’re injured.

3B Shrug

Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 60sec Tempo 2010

How Stand tall holding a dumbbell in each hand with straight arms. Keeping your chest up, core braced and arms straight, shrug your shoulders. Pause at the top, then lower the weights back to the start.

Why It’s another great move for bigger traps, and the best thing about this move is that you can go heavy because its range of motion is so short. Keep everything tight and shrug the weights up powerfully to make it more effective.

Exercise Sets Reps Rest Tempo
1A Overheard press 4 12 0sec 2010
1B Lateral raise 4 12 60sec 2010
2A Arnold press 4 12 0sec 2010
2B Upright row 4 12 60sec 2010
3A Front raise 4 12 0sec 2010
3B Shrug 4 12 60sec 2010
Exercise Sets Reps Rest Tempo
1A Overheard press 5 10 0sec 3010
1B Lateral raise 5 10 60sec 2011
2A Arnold press 5 10 0sec 3010
2B Upright row 5 10 60sec 2011
3A Front raise 5 10 0sec 2011
3B Shrug 5 10 60sec 2111
Exercise Sets Reps Rest Tempo
1A Overheard press 5 12 0sec 3010
1B Lateral raise 5 12 60sec 2011
2A Arnold press 5 12 0sec 3010
2B Upright row 5 12 60sec 2011
3A Front raise 5 12 0sec 2011
3B Shrug 5 12 60sec 2111

Photography: Danny Bird. Model: Shaun Stafford.

Guide to Buying Dumbbells

Dumbbells are undoubtedly one of the most popular pieces of fitness equipment ever made. They are one of the basic tools of the strength training trade and form part of millions of people’s workouts around the world on a regular basis.

We’ve created this dumbbell buying guide to simplify the process and set out the basic factors you should consider whether you’re buying for your home gym or commercial facility.

To help explain every available dumbbell type that is currently available on the market, we’ve split dumbbells into 3 top level categories; fixed dumbbells, adjustable dumbbells and studio dumbbells.

A fixed dumbbell is probably the most common type of dumbbell found in a commercial facility. Fixed dumbbells are normally the kind you would see on a horizontal or upright rack. They are usually sold in pairs and weigh anything from 1kg to 100kg each.

It really depends on the client base or individuals strength, but small gyms or home users will typically look at a 2.5kg-30kg fixed dumbbell sets. Larger more commercial gyms with a wide member base might look at 2.5kg-50kg but the higher end of 50kg-100kg will probably only be relevant for facilities that cater for serious weight lifters and bodybuilders.

There are a wide variety of fixed dumbbell styles that we could touch on, but we’ve narrowed it down to the ones our fitness advisors are most frequently asked about:

Fixed Rubber Dumbbells

Fixed Rubber dumbbells tend to best meet the needs of someone looking for a hard wearing, robust dumbbell for their commercial gym which will withstand the daily abuse of a busy facility. They would also make a great addition to a premium home gym because the quality and feel you get from these dumbbells is exceptional.

One of the main benefits of a rubber dumbbell over bare chrome or cast iron is that the rubber offers a protective outer coating that protects both the dumbbell, the storage stand and the surrounding lifting area. Scratches, chips and dents are easily noticeable on metal weights, but are far less common on rubber dumbbells. Rubber dumbbells also help to reduce noise when they are dropped by the user.

Rubber dumbbells tend to have more attractive, colourful designs and clearer numbering of weight denominations. They are also readily customisable so you can display a company or team logo on each end.

Fixed Urethane Dumbbells

Fixed urethane dumbbells are another very popular, more premium commercial equipment option. Although, to the naked eye urethane (technically polyurethane or PU) doesn’t exhibit a huge difference to rubber dumbbells there are numerous performance benefits which command it’s slightly more premium price tag.

Firstly, urethane products are stronger than rubber. It’s much harder to cause cosmetic damage to these products because the outer layers are much tougher and resistant to the scratches, chips and marks that can occasionally occur on rubber weights products. PU dumbbells also have the benefit of being non-marking, which is often sited as an issue with new rubber dumbbells when they are dropped on a new wooden or vinyl floor. Another benefit of PU over rubber dumbbells and other fitness products is that urethane doesn’t produce the signature odour rubber is known for.

Fixed Hex Dumbbells

Hex Dumbbells are named after their unique shape. Thanks to their many facets, the dumbbells will not roll around once placed on the floor. This is a great advantage if you are switching between weights or exercises and are constantly picking them up and putting them down. They are also excellent for floor based circuits, such as dumbbell push-ups because of their added stability.

The Hex Dumbbell usually comes cheaper than a standard rubber or urethane dumbbell which makes it a great budget option. Next to this, the facets make them easy to store if you happen to be missing a rack.

Fixed Chrome Dumbbells

Metal dumbbells have been popular in the past and are often a cheaper alternative to more modern rubber or urethane dumbbells. Cast iron weights are often found in older, more old school gyms and are readily available for great value second hand. These also come in classic and ‘hex’ shapes and are strong, solid products which stand up to a heavy lifting environments, the risk of chips and scratches is still there.

You will see many gyms using steel, chrome plated dumbbells which are very stylish products. They are all made with toughened metals and anti chip chrome but they are not as robust as dumbbells coated in rubber or urethane. Having said that, for home gyms and facilities which don’t see enormous footfall through their free weights area chrome dumbbells can look great and deliver their function perfectly well.

Adjustable Dumbbells

Adjustable dumbbells are a great product for buyers who want a variety of weights but either don’t have the space, storage or budget for a full set of fixed dumbbells. The technology behind this type of dumbbells has been developing quickly and one of the current market leaders, Power Block boasts that some of their products replace the need for up to 34 pairs of dumbbells with just 2.

In addition to Power Block, various brands such as Bowflex offer similar adjustable dumbbell solutions but with different, shapes, sizes and designs. Bowflex dumbbells work more like a traditional dumbbell bar and plate set, where the weight increases as additional discs and combinations of discs are selected from the storage unit. Power Block products work by inserting a pin which selects the number of weighted cases you pick up, not dissimilar to a weight stack on a fixed resistance machine.

The difficulty with adjustable dumbbells is that they are normally quite bulky because of the ways in which the weight needs to be segmented. It can also make life quite difficult if you are trying to do drop sets where you need to be able to change weights very quickly.

Adjustable dumbbells do make great products for home use and are exceptional value compared to buying a full set of fixed dumbbells, especially if you are looking to save space and don’t have a need for multiple sets.

Dumbbell Plate Sets

Another popular dumbbell solution for home users is a dumbbell set, consisting of small bar with plates which attach on either end. These are a very cost effective option for people looking for a range of weights and to save on space.

Plate sets will normally utilise a spinlock collar, which isn’t always the most secure method of fastening plates to the bar, but it is quick and easy to fasten and remove. Plate sets allow you to adjust the weight of the dumbbell by adding or removing weight plates to the bar, which normally come in weights between 0.5kg to 2.5kg. This kind of plate can’t normally be used on a barbell and is predominantly a home solution. It’s highly unusual for a commercial gym to use these as fixed dumbbells are a more convenient alternative. However, you can get Olympic sized dumbbell handles, which use larger collars and weights. The only issue with this is the handles are wide and restrict some movements. Fixed dumbbells allow you to be far more dynamic.

Studio Dumbbells

Many popular studio classes use light resistance work as part of their programme of activity. These are cheap to buy in large quantities and normally include a studio storage unit. They also tend to be colour coded by weight for easy identification during classes.

Studio dumbbells are fully coated; meaning the whole dumbbell (including the handle) is covered in a layer of textured rubber or neoprene to protect the product against the regular use and abuse it will be subject to. The full coating makes the dumbbells easier to grip especially during cardio-heavy group exercise classes. Studio dumbbells have an anti-roll shape, to ensure that during classes, equipment on the floor doesn’t cause a hazard.

Studio dumbbells are usually sold in pairs and are a perfectly good home dumbbell solution if you are looking for very low weight denominations. Studio dumbbells typically range from 0.5kg – 10kg and for commercial purposes can normally be purchased in sets of between 40-50 pairs.

Dumbbell Racks & Storage

A sure fire way to irritate a gym manager is to leave the weights room with dumbbells and plates strewn across the floor, so to avoid this it’s important to have adequate storage and dumbbell rack facilities. Rubber, Urethane and cast iron dumbbells are normally racked on either horizontal or vertical stands. Horizontal racks will normally be able to hold 10-12 pairs of dumbbells over either two or three tiers and upright racks can often hold a similar number. Studio dumbbell racks hold pairs of dumbbells in separate vertical slots for each weight.

Whether you’re starting a strength routine to build muscle, become a better runner, lose weight, or anything in between, choosing the right weights for strength training is a major key to getting the benefits you’re after.

“If we want results, we’ve got to challenge ourselves—that means using a weight that is heavy enough to force our muscles to have to adapt and grow stronger. However, you don’t want to choose a weight that is so heavy that you compromise your form and start engaging muscles that shouldn’t be working,” says Cori Lefkowith, Orange County-based personal trainer and founder of Redefining Strength.

Although there’s no exact weight range for every person, there are some general rules you can follow to make sure your weight isn’t too light or too heavy, but justtt right. Here’s what you need to know about choosing the correct weights for your strength workout.

1. Your weight should make you work for those last few reps (without compromising your form).

Think of this as a fitness experiment—it may take a few sets to find your sweet spot, but then you’ll know what pair of weights to pick up next time. “You know the weight is heavy enough if you struggle to complete the last few reps and would have liked to end a few reps before you planned to,” says Lefkowith. So, if you planned on doing 12 reps, you should want to give it a rest around the eighth rep, says Lefkowith. You should be able to keep the correct form right up until your last rep (but not much longer).

“A weight is too heavy if you struggle to maintain proper form or can’t hit the number of repetitions set out in the workout,” says Lefkowith. With a weight that’s too heavy, you risk injuring yourself or unintentionally using muscles you don’t mean to work to compensate.For example, using momentum or your back muscles to bring the weight up during a bicep curl instead of, well, your biceps.

2. But your weight is too light if you don’t start to struggle during those last few reps.

“A weight is too light if you easily cruise through the all of your reps—and could even do extra,” says Lefkowith. “Though you may feel things working and even feel a ‘burn,’ that doesn’t mean the weight is challenging.” You should start to feel the work from the very first rep, she adds—if you feel like you’ll have no problem getting to the end, it’s too light.

3. The exercise you’re doing can help determine what weight you use.

The weight you use should correspond to the strength of the muscles you’re working. For example, your glutes are very powerful, explains Lefkowith, so you can probably go pretty heavy with a weighted squat or deadlift. “However, if you are working the back of your shoulders with a posterior fly, you may need to go lighter because it is a smaller, weaker muscle group,” says Lefkowith. “Consider the muscle group that you’re working and make sure you choose a weight that challenges the muscles without compromising form.” Sense a theme here? Form above everything!

4. And the type of weight you use matters, too.

There are many different types of weights you can use in a strength workout (including dumbbells, barbells, sandbags, and kettlebells), and that may determine how heavy you go for any given exercise. “You may find you need to go lighter with more functional, unstable weights,” says Lefkowith. Unstable weights refer to how the weight is distributed in the equipment. So, while your dumbbell is evenly loaded on both sides, making for a stable and symmetrical piece of equipment, the sand in a sandbag will shift as you move it around. That will cause your muscles to work a little harder to make sure you stay balanced.

If you do not have time going to the gym, a set of dumbbells for women are your best friends to workout at home. Hand weights are without a doubt the most versatile pieces of exercise equipment.

You can use them for strength training to build and shape your muscles. But, you can also perform dumbbell exercises for weight loss. Plus, they need only a little space.

How to buy the right women’s dumbbell weight set for you?

I always recommend buying a dumbbell set because you will need different types of weights for your different muscle groups. For example, in most of the cases, you can use a heavier weight for biceps curls than dumbbell lateral raise. Hence, you will need about 3-4 pairs of dumbbells.

A set is also better since you will get a rack that allows you to store the dumbbells quickly, so they will not be around you everywhere.

What weight dumbbells should you use?

Well, that is hard to tell since that depends on your fitness level and your goals. But, let’s say you are a total beginner who wants to have weight training at home with dumbbells to tone your body.

Note: I know women who do not lift weights because they are afraid of being bulky like female bodybuilders. Just do it! To get such a physique, you need to use massive weights. Weight training has a lot of benefits. For example, it helps to increase your metabolism.

Typically, women need to have more reps to shape their muscles than man. While for men, 8-12 reps are OK, for women 15-20 reps are recommended. But, with that, ladies need to use less amount of weights.

There so many types of dumbbell exercise that it would be hard to list each. But here is a quick list.

Dumbbell weight chart | Credit: popsugar.com

Tip: If you have not used a dumbbell before, fill various bottles with water, weight them and perform a few exercises. Try to do 10-15 reps. If the last 2-3, are hard to achieve that amount is suitable for you. This way you will know which weight dumbbells to buy.

Keep in mind that it is crucial to perform the exercises correctly to get the best results and avoid injuries. Hence, look for tutorials online and do the practices slowly and in a focused way without momentum. Therefore, use light hand weights first, and as you develop, you can gradually increase the resistance.

Top 5 Dumbbells for Women

You can buy equipment individually, but I recommend you to get a set with a rack. This way you will have the most suitable load for each exercise, and you can store them easily.

Alternatively, you can get adjustable dumbbells that lets you to quickly change the amount of weight you would like to use with the help of a dial or pin. Plus, they are heavier so you can train those larger muscle groups such as your chest.

Related: Best adjustable dumbbell reviews

1. AmazonBasics Neoprene Dumbbells – Very popular

This set is perfect for both indoor and outdoor use. Thanks to the neoprene cover they provide comfortable and safe grip.

You can choose from 2 weight sets. A 20 pound one with 2,3,5 pound dumbbells, or a 32 pound one with 3,5,8 lbs weights.

For this price, you will get an excellent value.

2. j/fit Dumbbell Sets – Wade range of sets to choose from

J/Fit provides the most extensive collection of heavy-duty hand weight sets for women, for both beginners and advanced trainees, from 18 lbs to 76 lbs. Each product comes with a robust rack and 3 pairs. Each pair is in different in colors for quick selection.

3. Gold’s Gym Weights Set – Flat Rack

The tray is flat so that you can store them simply, for example, under your bed. Unfortunately, the rack is made of plastic so you should do not drop the weights into it.

As you see, the handles of dumbbells are rounded. Therefore they are very comfortable to use. They fit into palms well.

That set contains 3,5 and 8 lbs pairs, so they are perfect for beginners.

4. Fitness Republic 5 Tier Rack & Dumbbells – If you need more weights

If you need more than 3 pairs, this products is a better choice for you. It comes with 3, 5, 8, 10 and 12 lbs weights so that you can choose the most suitable load for your goals and exercises. The rack requires a bit of assembly and tools, though.

5. Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells – 15 sets of weights into one / Great choice for PRO girls

I put this home workout equipment on this list because it is the most versatile and compact. With the help of a dial, you can quickly choose the amount of weight you would like to use from 5 – 45 lbs. This way, it is suitable for pro girls who want to work out with heavy loads.

Keep in mind that the minimum weight is 5 lbs, and you can increase the resistance by 2.5 lb. For someone, mainly for beginners, that is too much. The pair comes with trays for quick storage and other workout materials.

To sum up

While there are many types of exercise equipment you can choose from, dumbbells for women are the best choice. Thanks to their versatility they help you to build and tone your muscles and burn fat if you do dumbbell cardio workouts.

Get one above and start shaping your body at home. Need a workout? Check out the following sources:

  • Arm workouts with dumbbells for women
  • Women’s beginner dumbbell workout for shoulders
  • Exercises for arms and shoulders at home

Did you like this guide to dumbbells for women? Share with your friends.

Sharing is caring!

Best dumbbells for women

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *