Get Your Home Workout On With Dumbbells

Dumbbells are classic, safe, effective exercise tools. Having a set at home makes it easy to stay in shape when you can't get to the gym. You can use dumbbells to do just about any exercise that's possible on a machine. Follow an expert's recommendations, or craft your own workout from scratch. Before snagging standalone dumbbells or an entire weight set, here are a few questions, answers, and tips worth noting.

Which type of dumbbells should you use at home?

You can use any type of dumbbells at home. The three main types are:

  • Adjustable: Adjustable models like Bowflex SelectTech are a single pair whose weight you can adjust independently to create optimal resistance. Adjustable models come in handy if space is at a premium in your home or office. Other adjustable models consist of small bars and plates that you can unscrew and disconnect to change plates or add more plates.
  • Fixed Weight: Fixed weights come in poundage increments from 2.5 pounds to hundreds. The plates don't unscrew and disconnect, so you have to grab another set of fixed weights at a higher poundage for enhanced resistance.
  • Hex Weights: Hex weights are dumbbells with hexagonal-shaped plates. Fixed and hex are common at commercial gyms where multiple people can grab different weights of dumbbells simultaneously and do whatever exercises they fancy. Hex weights are most likely to contain plates made of rubber or coated in rubber, so they might be gentler to your floor than other types. A general gym mat for home use provides the same protection if you opt for weights made of iron.
What exercises can you do with these?

You can do a full body workout or exercises that target specific muscles. Dumbbells are classic free weights, offering the kind of workout opportunities that bodybuilders, boxers, and athletes perfected decades ago. You can do dumbbell squats, deadlifts, and lunges to target your quads and glutes. You can do bent-over rows to target your lats. You can do shrugs for your traps. You can do presses and lifts for all three shoulder heads. For the bulk of your upper body, you can do bench presses, flys, curls, and kickbacks.

Which material gives you a real pump?

It's not the material of the workout tool that gives you a pump. It's your fitness level, the rep range, and the intensity with which you complete your sets. For the record, dumbbells are available in:

  • Iron
  • Steel
  • Chrome
  • Neoprene
  • Urethane
  • Plastic
  • Rubber

You can get a pump when using any of these materials if you employ proper form, select a target rep range and complete enough sets to challenge your muscle.

What weight set range of pounds should you buy?

It depends entirely on your fitness level. A weight set ranging from 5 pounds to 50 pounds is plenty for a beginner. A range of 5 pounds to 100 pounds is ideal for an intermediate lifter. See the manufacturer site for details. For advanced lifters, the sky's the limit. You can also mix and match sets with fixed, hex, and adjustable or combine complete sets in different ranges of pounds. There are no hard and fast rules.

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