There’s a lot to be said for domestic resistance-training setups, especially these days. “Exercising with weights at home can be liberating since you won’t need to go to the gym,” notes Rick Richey, co-owner of New York City’s Independent Training Spot. When you’re building the perfect home gym, a pair of dumbbells should be at the top of your list. They can save you hundreds of dollars a month thanks to their multi-purpose nature.
If you have the space, it’s beneficial to have at least one pair to pick up and use for curls, overhead presses and farmer carries. But first, you have to figure out how many pounds you want them to be. “If you’re not sure what size to get, go to the nearest sporting goods store and see how much weight you can lift overhead ten times that is challenging, but not exhausting,” Richey says. Then you’ll have the ideal resistance to challenge your muscles appropriately.
What happens when that set of weights feels easy? “Once you can do more than 25 repetitions of each move,” says Richey, “you can still make the most of your workout without upgrading your purchase by slowing your tempo down and increasing time under tension.” In the long run, you might get bored and/or plateau, which means you’ll have to buy another pair. Or, if you’re looking to make one purchase and never worry about it again, you’ll have to spend more on adjustable dumbbells.
As you may have noticed, home weight equipment is incredibly scarce these days, so we reached out to a bunch of sources and scoured the web to find quality available dumbbells. We also chatted with a handful of personal trainers and physical therapists to learn their favorite at-home moves, so you can put your new weights to work right away.
Fitness Gear Hex Dumbbells
The most versatile tools for an at-home gym are kettlebells and dumbbells, says Nick Briney, senior personal trainer at Life Time. Fitness Gear’s rugged, reliable Hex Dumbbells are now available at Dick’s Sporting Goods in a range of sizes, starting at 10 pounds and costing about a dollar per pound. Briney recommends picking up a few sizes, so you have more exercise choices. Note: Dick’s stores are temporarily closed and this product is not available online, but the chain is offering curbside contactless pickup at select locations.
The Move to Do: Goblet Squats
Stand holding one or two weights at your chest, feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Turn your toes out slightly to 11 and 1 o’clock and squat as low as you can, keeping the weight steady between your hands. Return to start for one rep.
PowerBlock Sport Adjustable Dumbbells
When it comes to adjustable dumbbells, PowerBlocks are an industry standard. They come in a number of starting sizes, with expandable versions accepting add-ons that can max out at 70 or even 90 pounds. The Sport 50s replace nine pairs of dumbbells and are not uncommon on eBay, with used pairs currently clocking in at under $400 (including shipping).
The Move to Do: Andrew Stern, founding trainer of Rumble Boxing, recommends doing 21s. Grab a light set of dumbbells with your shoulders relaxed and arms fully extended at your sides. Start with a curl that stops at a 90-degree angle. Do seven reps. Next, start with elbows at 90 degrees and lift up to your shoulders. Do seven reps. Finish with seven curl reps moving through the entire range of motion (from your sides up to your shoulders). You will feel the biceps burn.
Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells
This set starts at five pounds and goes up through 50 pounds. The weights are easy to adjust with a twist and come with the cradles, making them easy to store, and with five-pound increments, they essentially replace 10 dumbbells. The Core Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells are available through Dick’s Sporting Goods, with the same stipulations referenced above. (They’re also currently $200 off!)
The Move to Do: Overhead Press
Sit in a chair with a supportive back and a dumbbell in each hand, says Jordan Dubow, PT, DPT, at React Physical Therapy. Goalpost your arms (bend elbows at 90 degrees with upper arms parallel to the ground). Push the weights overhead, so they touch lightly without smacking each other. Hold for one count. Slowly return your arms to the goalpost position for one rep. Make sure your feet are planted on the ground, so you don’t arch your back as you push the weights overhead.
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