In all my years of gym hopping I can say that I’ve always blown away by how male dominate the free weight area is. I literally find myself bicep curling with the dudes thinking, “Where are all my girls at?” Well ladies, whether you are afraid of all that iron or just plain clueless I wrote this story to simply say, “Smart FitGirls use dumbbells.” Here are nine things you need to know about free weights whether you’re using them in the gym or in the comfort of your own home.
1. They Are Absolutely Affordable
If you rather workout at home or just want an affordable option for your “I ain’t trying to go to the gym” days, then dumbbells are totally a smart idea. I’ve seen sets as low as $10, or if you really want to save some dough you can always scour local thrift stores or local gyms – some sell free weights for super low when they update their inventory.
2. They Are Versatile
My favorite part about training with dumbbells is that the exercise options are limitless. You can literally hit every single muscle in your body without having to include any other pieces of equipment – ever. Bicep curls, squats, crunches and even more are welcomed to the dumbbell party so definitely add these easy to handle options to your workouts girls.
3. One Pair Isn’t Enough
So now that you know dumbbells are versatile and affordable, also know this – you are going to need more than one pair. Using the same pair for every muscle is a bad idea since not all muscles have the same level of strength. For instance we walk on our legs all day, so they can handle heavier weights. Whereas upper body muscles may require a lighter set. You’ll know the dumbbell is the correct weight when your muscles fatigue after eight to 12 reps so go for broke and lift heavy.
4. Relax More, Tense Up Less
A common mistake new dumbbell users make is being too tense. I guess out of fear of dropping a weight on your big toe (which by the way is a valid fear) many folks grip dumbbells way too tight. So the next time you feel like you have a death grip on your five pounders try transferring that tension you’re putting in your hands to the specific muscle you are actually working. Strength training requires relaxing so release and breathe throughout your lifting sessions for sure.
5. Move It Without Momentum
Forward momentum is usually welcomed in sports and fitness, however when it comes to working with dumbbells relying on momentum is totally a no no. I get it, when your playlist is as RAD as mine (wink wink) it’s easy to let the groove of the beat take over. However more momentum leads to less muscle, and at times, injuries. So stay in control and pay attention to your form in the midst of that 2 Chainz remix lady.
6. What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger
For real. Another reason dumbbells are a smart idea is that they allow for a greater range of motion during exercise. Unlike machines, dumbbells require both your mental and physical attention. They also challenge your muscles in ways no other piece of equipment can. For example, a barbell can become restricting during a chest press, but when you’re holding a dumbbell in each hand you’re able to bring the weight down lower during each rep. Make sense?
7. Negative Equals Positive
Whenever I start working with a new client that has never used dumbbells, their first response after a few weeks is, “I never even knew I had these muscles!” Well that is because dumbbells are rock stars when it comes to negative resistance – the ability to put stress on your muscles during the lowering phase of an exercise. Why is the negative phase such a big deal? Well this part of the weight training process is the most effective space for results to happen. So not only should you start using dumbbells, you should also remain mindful of the lowering phase of each exercise.
8. You Are Less Likely To Get Injured
Most people don’t use dumbbells because they are afraid of injury. But the opposite is actually true – using them protects you from injury. Exercise machines are calibrated to target one muscle exclusively, however optimal strength occurs when all muscles, ligaments and tendons act as stabilizers. Machines may miss these secondary muscles and supporting tissues, which can set you up for an injury. So again, dumbbells are a smart idea.
9. They Balance You Out Babe
And lastly, speaking of less injury, dumbbells are excellent for keeping your body in balance. The number one cause of injury is muscular imbalance, however when you incorporate more dumbbell exercises into your workout you can help eliminate this issue. For instance when you bicep curl with a dumbbell in each hand – as opposed to a barbell – you immediately force each arm to lift it’s fair share.
Remember smart FitGirls use dumbbells! Tell me how you rock your workout with weights in the comment section below.