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How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift?

    Using dumbbells in your weight training programs can help you intensify your workout and achieve your goals faster. Choosing the right weight can prevent you from straining your body or leaving your muscles unchallenged. So, how can you choose the right weight for your dumbbells?

    Choosing the right weight for dumbbells depends on your purpose, gender, experience level, number of reps, and type of exercise. Women should generally start with 3-5 pounds and go up to 25 pounds and more depending on their goals. Men can start from 5 to 10 pounds and get to 70 pounds and more.  

    Read on to learn more about the factors that determine how heavy your dumbbells should be. We’ll also talk about different types of dumbbells and why they can benefit your workout program.

    What Weight Dumbbells are Enough?

    The weight of dumbbells you choose for your workout depends on many factors. Here are the main factors that affect your choice of dumbbells.

    Your Purpose

    You may incorporate dumbbells into your workout routine for different purposes. Depending on the goal, your choice of dumbbell weight will vary.

    For building muscle, the perfect rep range is 8-15. So, your dumbbell weight should challenge you at this range. You’ll do these reps in 3 to 4 sets, and the challenge should be hard enough so that you feel you can do one or two more reps.

    If you want to build strength, you need heavy weights because the ideal rep range is 1-6. The best weight is something that challenges you but should also fit your strength level.

    strength level

    If your purpose is to lose fat, you may not need dumbbells because bodyweight exercises are enough. But you can intensify your workouts and speed up your fat loss in addition to adding variety to your routine.

    The key to losing fat and getting toned is keeping your heart rate up. You can achieve this by doing high reps and having the least amount of rest time. That’s why you need light dumbbells to avoid straining your body.

    Type of Exercise

    The dumbbell’s weight also depends on the muscles you want to target. For example, the dumbbell weight for 8 to 15 reps of the shoulder press isn’t the same as one for squats within the same rep range. Smaller muscles need lighter weights, and larger muscles, such as the back and shoulders, need heavier dumbbells.

    If you need to raise your arms, like in shoulder presses, triceps exercises, or straight-arm pulses, you need a lighter weight. Full-body workouts, such as lunges or squats, need medium weights because your core muscles help you stay strong, and you can tolerate more weight.


    Regardless of your purpose, the weight of dumbbells you choose will depend on your gender. That’s because of the physiological differences between men’s and women’s hormonal systems and metabolism. These differences determine the type of weights, the number of weights they can handle, and even the length of rest periods between reps.

    Generally speaking, women need lighter weights compared to men with the same purpose and experience levels.

    experience level

    Experience Level

    If you have several years of experience in weight training, you may not need any advice regarding the best weight for you. You’ve certainly figured out what’s best for you during these years.

    However, beginners should start with something that feels comfortable while giving them a constructive challenge. The dumbbells should be light enough to let you maintain proper form and learn the techniques. And you probably know that you shouldn’t start your training with weights. First, perform the moves without weights for a while, then gradually add them to your routine.

    To ensure you’ve picked the right dumbbell weight, do a few reps with the dumbbell, and then see how it feels. If it’s too heavy or too light, change the weight until it’s challenging enough. At the end of the rep, you should feel the fatigue in your muscles. This way, you force your body to adapt and respond the way you want, be it building muscles, boosting strength, or losing fat.

    So, if you’re a female beginner who wants to build muscles, start with 3 pounds and gradually raise it to 12 pounds. If you’re intermediate, you can raise it to 25 pounds.

    Check out this neoprene-coated dumbbell, suitable for both men and women. 

    Male beginners who want to build muscles can start with 5 pounds and increase it to 50 pounds. For higher experience levels, you can start with 10 pounds to 70 pounds.

    If you want to lose fat and get toned, women beginners should go for 3-10 pounds. Beginner men should start with 5 pounds and can raise it to 25 pounds.

    Adjustable or Fixed Dumbbells?

    Depending on your purpose and budget, you can choose between adjustable and regular dumbbells. There are different shapes and materials, each with its pros and cons.

    Fixed dumbbells consist of one piece, made of metal, neoprene, vinyl, or rubber. They come in different end shapes, including circular, square, and hex.


    This set, available on Amazon, is perfect if you want to have multiple weights. The hex shape is ideal because it doesn’t roll over. 

    They’re easy to use, need no adjusting, and are more durable. However, you may need to invest more because you want to have higher weights as you get more advanced.

    Adjustable dumbbells allow you to change the weights by adding or reducing plates. They come with different adjustment mechanisms, including plate-loaded and quick-lock mechanisms. While they give you more freedom because they’re adjustable, they may be challenging to use. They have protruding handles on both sides, which may get in the way of your exercises.

    These adjustable barbells, available on Amazon, are made of high-quality materials and the adjustment mechanism lets you quickly change your weight between reps. 

    What are Dumbbells Good for?

    Adding dumbbells to your weight training program can have many benefits. Here are some of them:

    Building Strength

    Dumbbells are an indispensable addition to your strength training routine and can be even more beneficial than other weight training equipment such as barbells. That’s because you can have a greater range of motion instead of just up and down movements. This way, you engage more muscle fiber and stimulate more muscle growth by having greater control in the eccentric phase.

    You can have more negative resistance by having more control over the lowering phase of the exercise. This way, you can benefit from its numerous advantages, such as increased fat burning and muscle building. 

    You have more freedom in lengthening this process even when you’ve completed your reps and feel tired. For example, suppose you’ve done ten reps and can’t go more because you’re too tired to lift the dumbbells. You can use your other hand to lift the dumbbell and slowly lower the dumbbell using your targeted hand.  

    Boosting Overall Health

    Dumbbells can help you have a healthier heart, decrease blood pressure, and improve blood circulation.

    Plus, using dumbbells as a part of your resistance training program can help you reduce your blood sugar levels and the risk of diabetes. That’s the direct result of improved muscle mass, which promotes blood sugar absorption by muscles.  

    Home workout

    Greater Muscle Activity and Stabilization

    When you use dumbbells, you exert equal pressure on both sides of your body. That means your body needs to improve its ability to retain its balance and stability. Plus, your body can detect any imbalance in its two sides and works to improve it.

    This feature is a great advantage over other weights such as barbells. When you use barbells, your body can’t identify any imbalance because both your hands are working to move the barbell. So, if one hand is weak, the other hand compensates for it by exerting more force. But with dumbbells, each hand works independently and gets stronger equally.

    Increased Muscle Function

    As mentioned above, dumbbells move in different directions, rather than just up and down. This feature is great for training muscles to work better in everyday situations. So, your muscles will function better at the gym and in real life, performing tasks such as carrying heavy groceries.

    Plus, your athletic performance will improve as well because you’ll have more lean muscle mass.

    Safe and Versatile

    Dumbbells are safer than barbells because of your position in activities such as a heavy squat or bench press. Compare accidentally dropping the barbell and the dumbbell; which one is more likely to hurt you?

    In addition, you have more options to incorporate dumbbells into your routine. There’s a wide range of activities you can mix with dumbbells, from biceps curls and lunges to overhead press, dumbbell bench press, and chest pull-over.

    You can also increase the intensity of your workout more easily than other weights. Progressive loading, also called running the rack, is an incremental workout intensification classically performed with dumbbells.

    Final Thoughts

    Several different factors come into play when considering the right weight for your dumbbells. A suitable dumbbell should give you a comfortable challenge and allow you to finish your reps without losing form.

    Start with lower weights and add to the weight as you gain more experience and learn to maintain proper form. And never start your training with weights if you’re a beginner and don’t know the proper form of the movement. 

    Last update on 2022-10-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


    James Wright

    James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

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