I truly believe that you need to master your own body weight before you add resistance to your workouts but once you do, the next logical step in doing so is to incorporate dumbbells. I work with clients initially to develop basic strength, body awareness and proprioception. It’s extremely important. I mean, if you can’t control your own body, how will you control your body while holding something heavy in your hands? Furthermore, this type of functional training helps you in your day-to-day life: catching yourself when you fall or reaching for something overhead.
It takes about 4-6 weeks to master this. When you’re ready…
Dumbbells are the next step. All of the movements that I teach in a phase one (body weight) program can be made more challenging with dumbbells. You can add a load to basic movements such as squats and presses but you can also mimic olympic lifts and power movements to develop speed and agility. Dumbbells are probably the most inexpensive, versatile, and have the biggest bang-for-your-buck when it comes to fitness equipment. You can work with a single dumbbell or two dumbbells depending on the movement.
Like in any program, a dumbbell program must be periodized properly. Mastering basic movements such as squats, deadlifts, presses and pulls is key to progress to movements such as renegade rows, snatches and clean & jerks. All of these movements are functional and can help you get stronger and make life’s tasks easier.
Click here to see an example of my favourite type of dumbbell. The hexagonal shape with flat sides allows them to be even more versatile. You can do push ups, dips, handstands, and quite a few other floor exercises that require you to balance on them… they are stable and generally do not tip. Also, these dumbbells are rubber – this is important for those of you exercising at home – if you drop them, they do less damage to the floor and they are quieter when they hit the floor.
When you’re ready to grow your home gym, you should really consider a pair of dumbbells or even a set of 4 or 6 of varying weights before you splurge and purchase one of those expensive universal machines.
Here is my suggestion for weights of dumbbells (pair) for beginners.
Women: 8, 10, 15 lbs
Men: 10, 15, 20 lbs
Also, this week’s Workout of the Week is a dumbbell/bodyweight workout – give it a try!