How to Determine the Right Dumbbell Weight for Your Home Workouts
Maybe you have read some of my previous articles or landed here after coming to the conclusion yourself that cardio alone isn’t going to cut it when it comes to reaching your fitness, weight loss or health goals.
Many women fear that lifting heavy weights will make them bulky, but in reality, it can lead to so many health benefits. So bravo!!! It’s a big step for many women to make the switch and I am just happy that you are here. Lifting weights as a woman should feel empowering and my goal is to equip you with the knowledge to make informed choices tailored to your strength and fitness goals.
More and more research is surfacing to highlight the importance of building and maintaining muscle mass for health, longevity and to be able to keep your metabolism fired up so you find it easier to maintain a lean body of health. Starting your resistance training journey will help you tostrengthen and tone muscles, improve bone density, and increase metabolism.
Unlike machines, dumbbells require the activation of stabilizing muscles, contributing to improved balance and coordination. Furthermore, they allow for a natural range of motion, mimicking real-life movements and promoting functional strength with compound movements. The versatility of dumbbells enables the execution of compound exercises, engaging multiple muscle groups simultaneously, leading to efficient and effective workouts and ones that in my opinion are far more fun too. I don’t believe that it’s downhill after 40, and you shouldn’t either.
I get that not everyone wants to hit the gym, in fact, as an introvert myself I like to have space and alone time during my workouts and so I have always been a big lover of working out at home.
The good news is that you don’t need an expensive gym membership or fancy equipment to feel fitter, stronger and maintain a happy healthy body. There is lots that you can do with just bodyweight alone and resistance bands when you are starting out. But it can be really beneficial to have a simple set of dumbbells to help the effectiveness of your workouts and get more from your training. So having a few dumbbells at home can help you take your fitness to that next level.
The costs can add up if you aren’t sure what weight to buy, and to be truthful your weight needs will (and should) change over time. So it’s a good idea to get started with the basics and you can add to your collection over time.
So how exactly do you determine the right weight to maximise your gains without compromising your form or overspending in the beginning? Well, that is exactly why I wrote this article, so I can guide you through the process of finding the perfect dumbbell weight for your home workouts.
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned fitness enthusiast, getting it right from the start will help you get the best results as well as being friendlier on your pocket. Whether you are working out from your living room floor, creating your own space in a spare room or converting your garage into your very own home gym (home gym is life goals if you ask me and I absolutely love mine) this guide will help you get started on the right tracks even if you are only working within a small space.
Choosing weights that are too light may not provide enough resistance to challenge your muscles, while using weights that are too heavy can lead to poor form and potential injuries and get left as being an overpriced doorstop that just gathers dust.
I’ll cover various factors to consider when determining the ideal dumbbell weight, including your current fitness level, the type of exercise you’ll be doing, and your personal goals.
Assessing Your Fitness Level
The first step in determining the right dumbbell weight is to assess your current fitness level. This will help you gauge your strength and endurance, allowing you to choose weights that are appropriate for your abilities and help you keep good form as a priority in your workouts.
To assess your fitness level, consider the exercises you can currently perform with ease. If you find that you can easily complete multiple sets and repetitions of an exercise such as squats, lunges or push ups without feeling fatigued, it may be time to increase the weight.
On the other hand, if you struggle to complete a few repetitions with proper form, it’s a sign that you should start with lighter weights.
So bust out a few squats now, if you can get to 15 and feel like you could have kept going then you are ready to start picking up some weights!
Understanding Rep Ranges and Goals
When it comes to selecting the right dumbbell weight, it’s important to understand rep ranges and your own goals. Rep ranges refer to the number of repetitions you aim to complete for each exercise. Different rep ranges target different muscle fibres and serve different purposes.
- Building strength aim for a rep range of 6-8 repetitions. This requires using heavy dumbbells that challenge your muscles to their maximum capacity.
- Muscle building, we look between 8-12 reps so this is where a different weight of the dumbbells can come in useful.
- Muscular endurance looks going for a higher number of reps of 12-15 repetitions. This will require using lighter weights that allow you to perform more repetitions with proper form, and this is the best place to start if this is your first time picking up some dumbbells.
Determining Your Exercises and Movements
The specific exercises and movements you plan to incorporate into your home workouts will also play a role in determining the right dumbbell weight. Different exercises target different muscle groups and require varying levels of resistance.
For compound exercises that involve multiple muscle groups, such as squats and lunges, you may need to choose a heavier weight that challenges your larger muscle groups, such as your legs and glutes. For isolation exercises that target specific muscle groups, such as bicep curls and tricep extensions, you can use lighter weights to focus on the smaller muscles.
Of course, we always want to strength train with a full body approach and so you can expect to be working both isolation, compound movements that target lower-body exercises and upper-body exercises.
Starting With Lighter Weights For Proper Form
Regardless of your fitness level and goals, it’s always a good idea to start with a lower weight when introducing new exercises or movements into your routine. This allows you to focus on proper form and technique before increasing the weight.
Starting with lighter weights not only reduces the risk of injury but also helps you establish a mind-muscle connection. This connection is crucial for engaging the targeted muscle groups and maximizing your gains. Once you have mastered the correct form, you can gradually increase the weight to challenge your muscles further.
Going lighter doesn’t have to mean only getting small dumbells. You can always start out using one dumbbell for your exercises and progress to using two over time.
Gradually Increasing Weight For Progressive Overload
Progressive overload is a key principle of strength training, and it involves gradually increasing the weight or resistance over time. This constant progression stimulates muscle growth and prevents plateaus and helps you get fitter and stronger.
To implement progressive overload with dumbbells, start by deciding how much weight allows you to complete the desired number of repetitions with proper form. Once you can comfortably perform the prescribed reps, it’s time to increase the weight by a small increment, such as 5-10%.
Listening To Your Body and Avoiding Injury
While it’s important to challenge yourself and push your limits, it’s equally important to listen to your body and avoid pushing too hard, too soon. Overtraining or using weights that are too heavy can lead to injuries and setbacks in your fitness journey.
Pay attention to how your body feels during and after your workouts, especially as you are working out from home. This is your invitation to really develop the connection you have with your own body. If you experience excessive fatigue, joint pain, or muscle soreness that persists for days, it may be a sign that you need to decrease the weight or take a rest day.
Remember, progress takes time, and it’s better to make steady gains than to risk injury for the sake of quick results.
Adjusting Weights For Different Muscle Groups
Different muscle groups have different strength levels, and it’s important to adjust the dumbbell weight accordingly. For example, your leg muscles may be stronger than your arm muscles, so you will likely need to use heavier weights for leg exercises and lighter weights for arm exercises.
Don’t be afraid to use different weights for different exercises within the same workout. This allows you to target each muscle group effectively and optimise your workout for maximum results and why I recommend getting at least two different pairs of dumbbell sizes.
Incorporating Variations and Intensity Techniques
To keep your workouts challenging and prevent boredom, consider incorporating variations and intensity techniques into your routine. This can involve using different grips, angles, tempo’s or movement patterns to target your muscles from different angles.
You can also incorporate intensity techniques such as drop sets, supersets, or pyramids to increase the intensity of your workouts without necessarily increasing the weight. These techniques can help you break through plateaus and push your muscles to new limits.
Empowering Females To Embrace Strength Training With The Right Dumbbell Weight
- Beginners– starting with a set of light dumbbells, typically ranging from 5 to 10 pounds (or 2kg – 5kg), is ideal. These weights allow beginners to focus on mastering proper form and technique while gradually building strength and confidence.
- As you progress to the intermediate level, incorporating moderate-weight dumbbells, ranging from 10lb (5kg) to 20lb (10kg), can provide a more challenging yet manageable resistance for continued progress. These weights enable intermediate lifters to gradually increase their strength and endurance while expanding their exercise repertoire.
- For advanced lifters, heavier dumbbells, typically ranging from 20 pounds (10kg) and above, offer the necessary resistance to further challenge and stimulate muscle growth. Advanced lifters can use these heavier weights to push their limits and continuously progress in their strength training journey.
It’s also important to consider that you may want to purchase at the heavier end of your capability to avoid a smaller set becoming too light too soon. You can always adapt movements so that you start using just one dumbbell and progress to using two over time.
There are a lot of different types of dumbbells and it can feel confusing and overwhelming to the beginner and if it’s your first time using dumbbells it can feel like a lot. Please keep in mind that you will come to have your own personal preference, but a weight is a weight no matter the price or style.
Below I have compiled a list of the best dumbbells for different price ranges. From hex dumbbells to neoprene dumbbells as well as the best adjustable dumbbells and sets to give you a good starting place when looking at making your purchase.
I personally prefer the Hex dumbbells, as they are good for balancing hands on in certain exercises, though I do also have some neoprene ones as they are often kinder to your home flooring and often a little comfier on the hands too.
As I have readers from the USA and the UK (as well as across the world) I have compiled separate lists as our US friends do have a slightly better selection. Amazon links will like you to your own country.
What/Where To Buy Dumbbells
Before you go purchasing anything it’s always a good idea to ask around friends and family. Someone you know may have some lying around that they don’t use that they may give or sell to you. Facebook marketplace, car boot sales or even charity shops often have a lot of fitness equipment that you can get on the cheap.
Bowflex Adjustable Dumbells £249.99. I have had a pair of these in the past and Bowflex were the origional brand for adjustable dumbbells. They are great space savers but I personally found them too big, bulky and were a bit of. afaff changing sizes, especially for the type of workout that I enjoy doing.
This is a luxury choice but would be my go-to if you are serious about investing in a top piece of kit. If I didn’t have a full home gym I would opt for this. You can get 10% off using my code EMMACN at checkout
Home Dumbbells Workouts
Here is as selection of home workouts from my YouTube channel to help get you started with some of my favourite dumbbell exercises and home workout formats.