- Choose one lighter set of weights for upper body and one heavier for lower body
Although it may be intimidating to go into a sports products store and see the walls and walls of dumbbells they have, it doesn’t have to be. Many sports stores carry several different dumbbells – primarily because people like different styles: there are dumbbells covered with rubber to help your grip and your hands, there are dumbbells that are metal that are used by most gyms, there are even adjustable dumbbells! That said, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed: all you need is one set of slightly lighter weights for your upper body movements and one set of slightly heavier weights for your lower body movements. Beyond that, you can pick anything you like! Pick up a few different styles of weights in the store to see what suits you best.
- Lift weight that allows you to feel fatigued after the prescribed number of reps
Most books, articles and videos that prescribe dumbbell routines well give you a number of reps to do: for example, 8-10 squats or 10-12 tricep kickbacks. What this means is that you should be feeling fatigued when you hit that top number. Most beginners don’t realize that you shouldn’t be doing 8-10 reps and feeling like you can do much more after 10 – if you do feel that way, you are lifting a weight that’s too light! Aim to make sure your muscles feel tired after doing the prescribed reps – that’s how your body will change and grow!
- Choose total-body exercises at first
When you first begin working out with dumbbells, pick exercises that work out multiple muscle groups. Things like squats, deadlifts and push-ups with the weights. These activities will help you get stronger overall and aren’t that difficult for beginners to learn to do! As you build your strength over time, you can begin to increase the amount of weight you are lifting. You can also move on to isolation exercises, which we discuss below.
- Move on to isolation exercises as you get stronger
Total body exercises are great, and you should keep doing them, but adding in isolation exercises with dumbbells is a great way to build muscle. Things like bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, and lateral raises are all great exercises to do to focus on smaller muscle groups. You will likely be lifting slightly lighter weight for these than you are used to, but don’t worry: the strength will come!
- Be consistent
Most important to any exercise routine, be consistent! Dumbbell weight training is a fun, effective and cheap way to stay in shape that you can do from the comfort of your own home! Keep at it, and you’ll be sure to see results!