STRENGTH TRAINING WITH DUMBBELLS
Dumbbells, also called hand weights are some of the most basic and versatile pieces of exercise equipment available for strength training. I personally have been using dumbbells for strength training since I was in high school and have been teaching other women to use them for over 25 years. So, what makes dumbbells perfect for women and strength training?
Advantages to Using Dumbbells:
You can use dumbbells in a variety of positions; seated, standing, lying on the floor, on a weight bench, or on a Swiss Ball (exercise ball) to perform a variety of strength training exercises for every part of your body. You can use dumbbells at your local gym, when you travel and in your home or office. Once you know how to use dumbbells, you can workout with confidence and ease anywhere you find them.
Because there aren’t any adjustments to make, dumbbells are easy to use; you just find the appropriate weight for the exercise, pick them up and use them. Dumbbells and women are a natural fit. It doesn’t matter what your fitness level is, your age or your size. Weight machines vary from brand to brand, thus twenty pounds on one machine may feel different than twenty pounds on another machine so you must adjust the machine and weight accordingly. When using dumbbells, whether you are in Minnesota, Oregon or Vermont, a ten pound dumbbell is going to weigh ten pounds, so you will feel comfortable and confident performing each exercise.
Because of the numerous exercises that can be performed with dumbbells, you create more “muscle confusion” which is better for stimulating muscle growth and health. In addition to the physical benefits, the variety of exercises will keep you mentally stimulated. This means you are less likely to get bored and you will stick with your strength training program. Also, just by changing the grip and/or hand position, you can change how the muscle is worked. This is beneficial if you have had any injuries; sometimes a slight turn of the wrist or change of position can make an exercise less painful and/or more effective.
When you workout using exercise machines, you are often forced to use your arms or legs together to move the weight. When you strength train with dumbbells, your arms or legs work independently to lift the weight. This is beneficial if you have one side that is weaker because it will help to eliminate and correct muscle imbalances. Independent movements will help make everyday tasks such as lifting a grocery bag, your suitcase, and/or your briefcase easier.
When you are working with dumbbells, such as when you are doing stationary lunges, you are also recruiting stabilization muscles to keep your body balanced. Improved balance is especially important to prevent falls and broken bones.
You will get full range and motion with each dumbbell exercise your perform, so your flexibility will increase. Machines do not allow for this.
If you are active in other sports, performing strength training and sport specific movements with dumbbells will help improve your performance in other sports such as golf and tennis.
Dumbbells are safe to use, you don’t have to worry about having a spotter or getting trapped underneath a barbell. If you get tired, you can just stop and set the dumbbells down.
Perfect for strength training at home, dumbbells don’t take up much space and can be easily stored in a closet or on a small rack.
Dumbbells are very affordable and cost effective for building strong, healthy bones and muscles.
Types of Dumbbells
There are basically three different types of dumbbells you can use for your strength training workouts. They are fixed weight dumbbells, plate loaded dumbbells, adjustable weight dumbbells and selectorized dumbbells.
Fixed weight dumbbells are the types you are probably most familiar with. These are the kind of dumbbells you will most often find a gyms and health clubs. They are made from a solid piece of steel with a designated, unchangeable weight. These are by far the most convenient and easiest dumbbells to use for strength training, just grab and lift. You will however, if purchasing this type for your home, need multiples sets, such as pairs of 5, 8,10 and 15 pound sets. This variety will help achieve the best results for multiple exercises, yet even with multiple pairs of dumbbells, they still don’t take up much space and are very affordable. Prices will vary depending up upon if you purchase the basic steel models, which are the least expensive. Or you can purchase dumbbells that are plastic or vinyl coated or those that have rubber on the ends. The most expensive dumbbells are those made of polished chrome.
With plate loaded adjustable dumbbells, you purchase two handles and attach weight plates to both sides along with collars to hold the weight plates on the handles; basically you are making your own dumbbells. The benefit to this type is that you can make them any weight you want by adding or removing the weight plates. You will need to purchase four collars and multiple weight plates of various amounts. Storage is still good with this type of dumbbell, as they do not take up much room. The downside to these is when you are working, different exercises that require different amounts of weight, you constantly be adjusting the weights on the dumbbells and your workout will probably take longer, so they aren’t as convenient or efficient to use. Because these are made of steel, they are very durable and like the fixed weight dumbbells and they will last forever.
Selectorized adjustable dumbbells like the name says, you select the weight on these by moving a pin or dial. You can purchase one pair and they can range in weight amounts from 5 to 25 pounds. What is nice about this type of dumbbell is that you will only need to purchase one set and storage is easy. However, selectorized dumbbells are expensive. They can be noisy because of the clanking of the plates when using them. Some users may feel unstable because of how they are adjusted and because they are larger in size many women feel that they are awkward to work with.
No matter what type of dumbbell you choose, dumbbells are great tools for strength training for women. All of the dumbbell exercises can be done with any type. Use the type that you feel most comfortable with then you will be more likely to stick with your program and have great results. To learn more about exercising with dumbbells and/or to get a personally designed program contact Kari.
KARI LARSON - PERSONAL FITNESS TRAINER
Empowering, Educating and Inspiring Fitness for Life