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What Exactly are Dumbbells?

Dumbbells, also called hand weights, are small weights that look something like mini barbells. They come in different weights, and can be used in a variety of different ways. Every home gym shoudl have a set of vary weights, which allows you to do different exercises to tone and strengthen muscles.

Why Use Them?

Dumbbells can be used for different exercise purposes depending on the weight you use and repetition. So they can be useful for cardiovascular work and building muscle. Typical exercises for the lower body would include, for calves-calf raises with dumbbells, for quads, squats with dumbbells, hamstrings can benefit from dumbbell lunges and for abs, dumbbell oblique rotation.

For the upper body try them for triceps, shoulders can be worked with shoulder press with dumbbell weights, the back with upright rows and biceps will benefit from bicep curls.

What are the Advantages of Dumbbells?

In a nutshell theyt are a relatively cheap set of weights that you can use to workout with. When compared to other gym equipment they are also versatile and easy to use and for the home, most importantly they are easy to store. When buying dumbells you have quite a few choices to make and budget is one of them. Chrome dumbbells don't come cheap, but then are they a feature or a piece of kit you throw in a cupboard?

Uses of dumbbells

You are probably picturing someone lying on a weights bench pumping 2 dumbbells up and down, or someone doing lunges? These are two common ways to use dumbbells, but there's plenty more.

Cardiovascular Work

Using some of the lighter weights during a cardio workout can help to take your heart rate into the aerobic zone.

Muscle Building

Using heavier weighted dumbbells can build muscle and also tone muscle.

Targeted Muscle Building

Dumbbells are good for working on very specific muscle groups.

Buying Options

When you buy dumbbells you can either buy different pairs of dumbbells in different weights e.g. one set of 5 kg weights, a set of 6 kg weights and so on. Or you could buy an adjustable dumbbell kit where you change the weight plates at either end with a clip or screw type mechanism.

Some people like fixed weight dumbbells whilst others prefer adjustable ones. If you are buying adjustable you will find that some are easier to adjust than others, really check out the adjustment before you purchase as if it is too fiddly you will end up getting frustrated.

Choice of Material

The weight in a dumbbell is usually a metal which is then covered in plastic or rubber. The plastic ones are usually cheaper but some people find the metal ones which are often chromed look better. They all perform the same way, so what you buy will depend on what look you prefer. The bar itself is made from metal or moulded plastic. For a good grip you will find that many are gnarled.


A dumbbell rack can be a great idea as it is safe and keeps your free weights organised.

Dumbbell Designs

There are many different designs on the market place for both fixed weight and adjustable dumbbells. Some bars are curvy or angled which is meant to reduce repetitive stress. Some weights are hexagonal in shape to prevent the dumbbells rolling along the floor. Some dumbbells now even come in a range of funky colours.