Everything You Need to Know About Dumbbells

by Michael Duong 2 years ago in fitness

One of the easiest fitness equipment to use, and the most common, are the dumbbells.

Everything You Need to Know About Dumbbells

Have You Ever...?

Have you ever wanted to start working out but didn't know where to begin? Dumbbells are one of the best ways to both lose fat and to gain muscles. This article will provide you with all the necessary information you need to know about dumbbells, their benefits, and its risks.

What to Know Before Getting Started

Today we are going to be talking a lot about the benefits of lifting dumbbells and how to lift them properly.

We will be talking about reps and sets, but what are they? "Reps" (also known as repetitions) is the act of one repeating a movement (such as a dumbbell curl). "Sets" are a group of reps. For example if you are doing three sets of ten reps you are lifting the dumbbell ten times then taking a rest, then doing it two more times, and in total you've done 30 dumbbell curls. This can be measured by 3x10. The first number (three) is for sets, and the second number (ten) is for reps. This could also be applied to most workouts.

When you are done with one set you should begin to take a rest period. Rest periods are to help your muscles recover and gain more oxygen. Oxygen can deplete during your workout and needs 15 seconds to start re-gaining and 3-5 minutes to fully get it ready. You should rest 3-5 minutes for muscle strength, but at least two minutes between endurance and mass training.

What to Know Before Getting Started

While talking about dumbbells you might hear the term "Free Weights" a lot. Free weights are weights that aren't on machines and not connected to machines.

Free Weights are scientifically one of the most fastest ways to gain more strength and more mass. The reason behind this is that it forces you to be more coordinated and have to try harder, not like machines where they stabilizes the weights and hold them up for you. Another reason why free weights are a good choice is that it isolates muscle groups and works them unlike machines that work multiple parts but much more slower.

Free weights are more versatile and offer a wide range of motion while machines only go where it was designed to go. Benefits of having free weights versatile is that it will strengthen and tone your muscles around your joints as well as the muscles you are aiming for.

Another thing that Free Weight can do is that it is more smaller than machines and you can store it inside your living space while machines are too big and more expensive.

There are also a few cons for owning free weights just like difficulty and injury. With free weights you are more on your own then with instructions on a machine, meaning that it will be difficult for you to learn about the different techniques and different exercises if you are a starter.


Before we even get started with picking out which dumbbells are perfect for you we need to talk about it's safety and risks of injuries. You are not likely to get injured while lifting dumbbells if you know how to prevent them and if you are actually doing it.

Disc herniation is the most common injury that comes with weight lifting and the only one you should be most careful with. If you went to the doctors for pain when lifting objects they will most likely tell you it's a Disc Herniation. Disc herniation symptoms may involve pain in the spine and/or tingling from the waist down to the legs. The causes for disc Herniation is from excessive poor posture, and the most simplest and easiest way to prevent this is to lift and exercise with a straight back. By having good posture you will experience less stress on your spine leading to a lower chance to get this condition.

Lower back pain or pain anywhere on the back is also a very common injury that can come up with weight lifting. Just like disc herniations back pain can be from the bones, muscles, or just on the skin. If you frequent deadlifts, squats, or anything including weights you might hear that form is very important.

Another cause of getting injuries is that your picking up dumbbells wrong. Dumbbells, whether picking it off the ground or on a rack, can cause injuries in your back and spine if you are not getting it up correctly. The proper way to pick up dumbbells is to bend your knees and not your back while reaching for the dumbbell. Doing this will prevent a lot of injuries such as Disc Herniation.

Other says to prevent any further injuries you should always stretch for at least fiv minutes according to the workout you're about to do next. If you are going to workout arms with dumbbells you should do some bicep, tricep, and shoulder stretches before beginning any exercises.

Another thing is that when you are starting out and don't want to be injured the first time you workout you should always aim for perfect form and not the weights you lift. If you lift heavy your form will be harder to keep straight and stabilized.

Is lifting safe for teens?

Since we talk about injuries we should talk about the safety of working out for teens.

The reason I'm not talking about "If lifting safe for kids?" Is because a lot of kids have not hit puberty yet and you will not grow too much muscles or muscle strength pre-puberty because they get hormones that make their muscles grow after puberty.

According to scientists lifting can have huge impact on teens and their lives. Lifting provides physical and mental health boosts, and also provides extra fun.

Teens who lift or do cardio can reduce injury chances by half and make then heal faster if they do get an injury while playing sports such as broken bones playing football.

Teens should not be working out using the bulking and cutting technique, but should be toning their muscles by using smaller weights and more reps. The reason for not bulking and cutting is because teens can gain more fat or lose a lot of fat and muscles unintentionally because they do not have the required hormones until you reach young adulthood. Another way teens could exercise is to lose weight through cardiovascular exercises. In 2018 a lot more teens are overweight and if that's the case for you then there is no harm in trying.

Teens should always be supervised because teens (including myself) would try to get the most muscular body or the thinnest stomach so they would go extreme and might adapt to artificial supplements such as steroids or supplements. Supplements such as whey or C4 might be positive but dangerous if taken too much.

There are some things you need to see your doctor about because your bones don't fully develop until you get into your 20s so you might want to goto the doctors or if you're a parent you should take your kids to the doctors because heavier weights might lead to broken bones.

Why Dumbbells Are Useful

There are three main reasons to use dumbbells, muscle endurance, Muscle mass, and muscle strength.

For muscle endurance you want a lighter dumbbell but still challenging to lift for a long time. To increase endurance you should do 15 to 20 reps and three sets.

For muscle mass you should aim for heavier dumbbells that you could do for about 7 to 12 reps and three sets.

For muscle strength you would want the heaviest dumbbells that you could lift only a few times, about one to five reps of three sets.

There's many other ways to use dumbbells besides arms like, legs, chest, back, forearms, and more.

If you complete a set but still can go for more reps you didn't complete a full set. If you can go for more reps you should get a more heavier dumbbell to make the workout more challenging and not stopping just because you've done enough reps.

Another main thing about dumbbells is that it can help you lose more fat more faster. Dumbbells will mainly grow muscles but fat loss will become easier to lose when you have more bigger muscles. Combine big muscles and a right diet will boost up your metabolism and help burn fat more fast. The reason behind this is that each pound of muscles will burn up to 75-150 calories per day (while one pound of fat will burn three calories per day), so when you're resting you will burn calories without even trying. But in order to do this you'll have to get the muscles first, by using dumbbells or other sources.

How to Pick the Right Dumbbells

Often when you ask people they would say to only get two of the same sized dumbbells to hold in each hand but studies said that you should get three pairs of two of the same size dumbbells. If you want to train arms, legs, and chest you should get three sets but if you are only going to train arms you should only get about two sets.

You should get one light, medium, and heavy set. To know what size dumbbells each of these are you should pick up a pair of dumbbells and see if you can lift ten reps without it being too heavy but not too light. The Light one should be about five pounds (or 2.5 kilos) lighter. The heavier one should be five pounds (2.5 kilos) heavier. These might not always work but to test it you should pick up the lighter set and do about 12 - 20 reps without it being too light or heavy. To test the heavier set you should try to do one to five reps without it being light or heavy.

Now for the dumbbell brand I would personally recommend either Bowflex or Hex. If you want a very good, but expensive dumbbell I would recommend Bowflex. If you are going to get Bowflex you should only get one or two of them because they are adjustable, meaning that buying different weighted dumbbells are going to be useless. Hex’s dumbbells are more on the affordable side but their grip might hurt for more longer sets.

If you still have any questions about how to get the perfect dumbbells for you, you should talk to a fitness employee, a fitness trainer, or just ask online.

Rubber Coated or Iron Casted

There are two types of hex dumbbells, Rubber coated and Iron casted.

If the price of the dumbbells don't matter the you should always go with the Rubber Coated ones. Iron Casted Dumbbells will cost you about $1.05 per pound ($26.25 for 25 lbs) and Rubbers will cost around $0.70 per pound ($17.50 for 25 lbs). Generally if you are going to get one for a long time then most Rubber ones have a much more longer warranty than Iron Dumbbells ones do. Also another thing that Rubber Dumbbells has that Iron Casted ones does not is that they have a bigger and better grip. Their grip is more comfortable and larger so you can hold it better without your hand overlapping each other. Rubber Coating also looks more sleek and thicker so it may look like you're lifting more then you actually are plus they do not get damaged or chipped as much as Iron Casted dumbbells.

Dumbbell Equipment

There are many equipment you can use with or on your dumbbells.

Plates for adjustable dumbbells are always the way to go if you want just two dumbbell handles. the standard if you are getting plates to get are:

2 x 2.5 lbs (2 x 1 kg)

2 x 5 lbs (4 x 2.5 kg)

2 x 10 lbs (2 x 5 kg)

2 x 25 lbs (2 x 10 kg)

2 x 35 lbs (2 x 15 kg)

2 x 45 lbs (2 x 20 kg)

The smaller weighted plates are for if you want to go for the weights in between the heavier weights (ex. if you want to go 2 x 30 lbs put one 10 lbs and 5 lbs for each side of the dumbbell to make a 30 lb dumbbell).

The Olympic plates are recommended for people who will workout with adjustable dumbbells because they're the most durable for long time use. Olympic plates are made out of very dense and hard rubber that will not be damaged when falling to the ground. The colors of the plates are corresponding to different weighted plates.

White - 1.25 lbs. (.57 kg)

Green - 2.5 lbs. (1.13 kg)

Blue - 5 lbs. (2.27 kg)

White - 10 lbs. (4.54 kg)

Green - 25 lbs. (11.34 kg)

Yellow - 35 lbs. (15.88 kg)

Blue - 45 lbs. (20.44 kg)

Red - 55 lbs. (24.9 kg)

Some olympic plates are repeated twice and the thicker the plate is the heavier the weight is for its color.

Dumbbell racks are not required in order to store your dumbbells and/or to store your dumbbell plates but is highly suggested. When buying Dumbbell Racks you should always try to find the weight capacity and dimensions of the rack.

How to Lift Properly

You don't have to be a professional bodybuilder or an athlete to lift with proper form and to get more gains with it. Proper form is very important for maximizing gains and prevent you from any injuries. Other benefits of lifting with proper form is that you will boost how fast you lose weight, tone muscles, and strengthen bones. If you do not lift with proper form it will take away these benefits and may even cause more pain then gain Including sprains and fractures. If you are going to lift dumbbells at the gym you should watch professionals lift just to get an idea but if you see someone who might be doing it wrong, it probably is. Another thing to do at the gym is to talk to a trainer or physical therapist about proper form.

Another thing people get wrong is working out to much in a short period of time. People often tend to workout the same muscle groups two days in a row without resting in between days. You should only train the same muscle groups 2-3 times per week, excluding cardio witch could be done anytime you want.

One of the many things you should do is to warm up. I already discussed this but it is very important to warm up and not that much people are doing it. You should warm up for at least five minutes of stretching or taking a mild walk.

Though there are things you should be doing, there are many things that you shouldn't be doing.

For both at home and at the gym you are going to be tempted to hold your breath as you lift, but, you should really start breathing out as you lift up and breath in when you start to lower your dumbbell.

Protein Supplement

Not every protein supplement is the same. Some brands such as Whey, C4, or Creatine react differently with things that it goes to and when you drink it.

Most protein supplements do not just have protein in them. They have other nutrients such as amino acids that help when combined with protein.

A few benefits of Protein Supplements (mainly whey) can include: muscle gain, weight loss, anti-cancer, cholesterol levels, asthma, and blood levels.

A few dangers of protein supplements include: headaches, cramps, stomach aches, fatigue, and nausea. Though you can only get these non-benefits if you are allergic to milk or take very high doses then recommended.

Protein Supplements with resistance training (such as dumbbells) can result in huge growth in lean muscles.

When talking about whey protein there are three types of whey with all different uses.

Whey protein concentrate (WPC) is the most common form of protein were only 60-80% pure protein. WPC is also low in fat and cholesterol. WPC is most commonly used to increase dairy intake

Whey protein isolate (WPI) is the most pure form of protein in powdered form. WPI contains over 90% of pure protein and completely fat free, cholesterol free, carb free, and lactose free (unless added milk to mix). WPI also contains high level amounts of amino acids. WPI is very common with bodybuilders and athletes because WPI can be digested faster than any other protein and can help build muscles and help recover from a long workout.

Whey protein hydro (WPH) WPH is the fastest delivering protein. WPH can supply your muscles with the most nutrients and amino acids.

Michael Duong
Michael Duong
Read next: Best Running Shoes for Women
Michael Duong

Writer, not reader.

See all posts by Michael Duong