Getting fit: the dumbbell
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This series is dedicated to an overview of the equipment you can use in the comfort of your home to shape the body of your dreams.

Series entries:

Second on our list:

The dumbbell

A dumbbell is a compact version of the barbell and is much lighter in comparison. They are small enough to hold easily with one hand (depending on the weight, obviously). They may be used in pairs to work both sides of the body simultaneously, or can be used individually to target a specific muscle.  

Notable dumbbell types

Adjustable dumbbells

These are essentially miniature barbells. They are short metal rods to which you add weight plates on both ends. The same plates may also fit on a standard  barbell. This is great if you already have a barbell and plates and want to expand your equipment arsenal.  However, do not just assume this, check to make sure.

Welded dumbbells

These look similar to adjustable dumbbells, but the weight plates are welded onto the bar and cannot be adjusted.

Vinyl dumbbells

These are dumbbells that are completely covered in plastic or rubber for better grip.  They are mostly only available in lighter weight ranges.

Hex dumbbells

These weights have six sides (a hexagon shape) instead of being round. This allows the weight to be placed flat on the floor, which helps with balance in many exercises. Some variations have rubber on the weights to create even more stability.

Advantages of dumbbell training

Dumbbell exercises allow for a wider range of motions and greater variety of exercises than machine or barbell training, making them ideal to target obscure muscles you may neglect.  

Dumbbells can also be used for full body exercises to target multiple muscle groups, but you will not be able to lift as much weight as with barbells.

Dumbbells are great for people with limited space at home. They are portable, making it a breeze to take them with you as you travel.

Dumbbells are perfect to incorporate into HIIT workouts.  HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts are intense bursts of exercise within a small amount of time. Research has shown that HIIT workouts may be just as effective as prolonged workout sessions.  This is awesome news for people who do not have a lot of time during the day. With HIIT it is possible to create a good daily workout that only takes about 10 minutes! It may be worth your while to read up on HIIT workouts if this sounds appealing to you.

Disadvantages of dumbbell training

With a wider range of motion comes a higher risk of injury. Beginners need to be careful when trying a new movement; start with light weight and ensure your form is correct.

If you have a wide variety of dumbbells, they may be a hassle to store. You should consider getting a storage rack if this is the case.

Dumbbells may prove a challenge to those who have muscle imbalances.

For the best results you need to get 2 dumbbells of the same weight (a set). You may require more than one set of dumbbells for different muscles, as some muscles can lift heavier weights more easily than others. Dumbbells are not ideal for lifting very heavy weight (power training), but at a beginner stage this will not be an issue.


People tend to overestimate themselves when it comes to weightlifting; this may lead to injuries and developing a negative perception of exercise. Leave your ego at the door. Start of with a low weight and perfect your form first.

Final word

Dumbbells are an ideal solution for people with limited space and time to work out. Try to get some adjustable dumbbells to start with. Once you’ve learned what weight range works for specific exercises, it may be worth it to get hex or vinyl sets.

Next up: The kettlebell!