Believe it or not, dumbbell training has been around since ancient Greece. They used stone or metal that was carved to include a handle and weighed between 4 and 20 lbs. They were called halteres. The term dumbbell, however, is believed to have originated in England (Hedrick, 2020). Various types of dumbbells can be used with a single or a pair of dumbbells in a bent over row, bench press and more.
These include adjustable, fixed, and selectorized. no matter what style you use, dumbbells have many benefits, and these include:
- Low Cost
- Can be used anywhere
- Suited for explosive training
- Little training space is required
- Can train all muscle groups
- Only need a relatively small number of dumbbells
- Safer than barbells on specific exercises
- Easier for individuals with injuries
- Easier to learn than barbell exercises
- A more complex motor activity
- Opportunity to perform alternating movements
- Opportunity to perform single-arm movements
- Adds a balance requirement which works core muscles
- Stabilizing muscles are more active
- Reduces the potential for injury by enhancing joint stability
- Increases potential range of motion
- Adds variation to the training program (Hedrick, 2020)
Now that you know why using dumbbells is essential in a workout, let us look at how to incorporate them into your program. You can either incorporate dumbbells into an existing program or design a whole new program for your client. Either way, there are some necessary steps you will want to take.
- Decide on your philosophy of training.
- Establish your client’s goals.
- Use scientifically sound information and concrete guidelines (Hint: You can find these in a W.I.T.S. course).
- Use the concept of periodization: The practice of dividing training into specific cycles with each cycle targeting a specific physiological adaption.
- Incorporate training variables.
- Teach proper technique. Technique should always take precedence over intensity.
There are a plethora of dumbbell exercises out there. These dumbbell exercises can work all the major muscles for the full body effect. Those exercises can work the tricep muscles, upper arms, and develop full range of motion.
Almost any exercise your client is doing on a machine can be done with a set of dumbbells. Add in simple variations on each exercise, and you have just quadrupled the movements you can do. You can work on muscle isolating movements like bicep curls or compound movements that work multiple muscles at one time, like squats. You can even put the two together and have your client do a squat-bicep curl move.
“This is the interesting part of designing training programs because it is part science and part art—art in the sense that you can use your creativity to design what you believe is the best approach to improving athletic performance. Although the art aspect provides room for creativity, the vast majority of a training program should be based on science” (Hedrick, 2020)
So take a look at the programs you are designing and ask yourself where can I add in some dumbbell training? Want to know more about programming, various exercises for upper body, weight loss aspects and more? Sign up now for the Introduction to Dumbbell Training in the W.I.T.S. Store
Check out this great Infographic about guidelines of resistance training
Stop by the W.I.T.S. store to check out the Introduction to Dumbbell Training course and our other C.E.C. offerings. Check back in often as we are beginning to develop a new line of courses specific to trainers’ current needs.
Hedrick, Allen, (2020). Dumbbell training. (2nd ed.). Human Kinetics.
Martha Swirzinski, Ed.D.
Martha holds an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and a master’s degree in Kinesiology. She has over 25 years of experience in teaching exercise science, health education, and personal training. She teaches in higher education and develops courses worldwide for various organizations. She has been with W.I.T.S. in multiple roles, including mentoring online programs, course development, webinars, and teaching since 2009.