UPDATED, November 12, 2021
No matter how robust your home gym might be, it may feel incomplete until you’ve added one type of equipment with a unique set of benefits: dumbbells.
Dumbbells are an effective tool for a variety of health goals, and they can be incorporated into any fitness routine for a full-body workout (1). Whether you want to build more muscle, tone your body, or even sharpen your thinking (2), these traditional workout accessories can easily be used to your advantage. To see and feel the benefits for yourself, try adding a set of dumbbells to your next routine—or design a new workout plan with help from personal trainers on iFIT®.
If you’re ready for a new addition to your home gym, read on to find out which dumbbells are best for you.
Before jumping into the deep end, it’s important to make sure you know a few dumbbell basics.
Let’s say you’re at the commercial gym. You’ll likely have two options when it comes to dumbbells: the adjustable dumbbell and the fixed dumbbell. Which one you reach for depends on what you’re looking for in a workout.
- The adjustable weight dumbbell gives you the flexibility to switch out the dumbbell weight with a “weight plate” until you’re satisfied with the range.
- The fixed weight dumbbell cuts down on prep time because you won’t be changing anything out.
The better dumbbell type is about your personal preference than any objective measurement. To find your best option, spend some time considering how each type might fit into your routine and home gym.
It’s also important to note that this gym equipment comes in different shapes—for example, hexagonal dumbbells vs. those with rounded weight plates—and materials, from metal dumbbells to neoprene dumbbells and everything in between. You can also find dumbbells with rubber coating (for example, a rubber hex dumbbell set) for a more comfortable grip.
Benefits Of Dumbbell Training
To really understand why your home gym and fitness routine may not feel complete without your own set of dumbbells, it’s important to take a look at the benefits. Here’s how these strength-building accessories can fit into your workout world.
Even if you don’t have any other equipment handy, you can still build muscle with just dumbbells — as long as you follow a healthy, nutritional meal plan (4) as well. Dumbbells are great for mechanic and metabolic overload, which may lead to muscle growth, while that healthy diet supports and enables your hard work.
Mechanic overload (1) has to do with muscle contractions, stimulating your muscle to repair itself after a workout. A regular routine of lifting high-weight dumbbells causes this overload, which, in turn, may cause muscles to grow.
Metabolic overload (1) can also lead to bigger muscles, but in a different way, according to ACE Fitness. This type of overload involves working your muscles to the point of fatigue, leading the cells to store more glycogen. You’re engaging in metabolic overload when you do more repetitions with dumbbells of a lighter weight, exhausting your muscles and getting a great workout along the way.
If you’re not looking for bodybuilder-style muscles, don’t worry: Dumbbells still have plenty to offer. According to Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist K. Aleisha Fetters (5), strength training can help improve cardiovascular and mental health, improve flexibility, reduce cancer risk, and more.
Strengthen Muscle Tissue
Strengthening muscle tissue (6) is similar to building muscle with dumbbells, but it doesn’t necessarily require as much force. Instead of working your muscles to the point of fatigue, you can lift dumbbells in any weight range to help improve the contractile and elastic properties (1) of your muscle tissue. This means your muscles will be better able to shorten and lengthen as you move — which, in turn, can help reduce injuries and provide other physical benefits.
According to Ashley Wiater, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (7), “Muscle strength is important to help reduce injuries, most notably falls.” That’s right — strengthening muscle tissue by lifting dumbbells can help keep you on your feet. Wiater also explains how “inactivity causes a loss of muscle protein, resulting in a decrease in muscle strength. Without continued strength and resistance training, the rate of muscle mass decline is much greater.”
In a 2017 study by Rio de Janeiro Federal University (8), researchers gathered data on the maximal strength performance and muscle activation of 19 trained men. The men performed multiple exercises, including tricep extensions with dumbbells. Based on results, researchers found that “the DBP [dumbbell] elicited significantly greater BB [biceps brachii] activity vs. the SMBP [Smith machine] and BBP [barbell], respectively.”
This means that strengthening muscles with dumbbells is beneficial, even if you’re not going for that bodybuilder physique. Instead, you can focus on trying to stimulate physical change in your muscle tissue and increasing your capacity to generate force (9).
A dumbbell workout can also lead to greater levels of muscle activation and coordination. For example, performing a set of bicep curls with dumbbells can help improve your intramuscular coordination (1) — a single muscle’s action to create force. But, as the source explains, you’re not just focusing on one muscle at a time. You’re also improving intermuscular coordination, which is how muscles work together to complete actions and generate force.
Add Full-Body Exercise To Any Routine
Do you already have a workout you love? No problem—dumbbells can be incorporated into almost any fitness routine, from high intensity interval training (HIIT) to a jog on the treadmill. With iFIT, you can find studio and global workouts that help you target different muscle groups each day and learn new ways to use your dumbbells.
Even if you’ve never touched a dumbbell in your life, you’ll be able to jump right in, simply because there’s not necessarily a huge learning curve with this exercise equipment. It’s important to brush up on proper weight training form (11) before getting started, but you’ll be lifting those dumbbells in no time.
One thing to keep in mind is that, as a beginner to using dumbbells, it’s important to pace yourself (12) and resist the temptation to push yourself too hard too soon. Work your way up by gradually increasing the weight range.
Another smart step in beginning confidently is to consult your physician before starting a new exercise routine, which can help you avoid any setbacks and get the most out of your new dumbbell workout. This is especially important for people in these categories (13):
- You haven’t exercised in a while.
- You have, are being treated for, or have completed recent treatment for cancer.
- You have high blood pressure.
- You have pain in your chest or neck.
- Your ankles swell.
- You notice frequent shortness of breath.
Even if you don’t fall into any of the above categories, remember the rule of thumb (13): “When in doubt, check it out.”
Advance Your Workouts As You Progress
Perhaps one of the most efficient things about dumbbell training is that it’s never limited to any one approach. You can always switch up the weight range or number of repetitions to keep workouts feeling fresh, especially if you choose a set with adjustable dumbbell weights.
This flexibility is also an important way to help make sure you keep seeing results. Your muscles can get used to dumbbell workouts (14) if you always use the same weight, which means your results will begin to plateau. That’s bad news if you’re looking to really challenge your body overall, but good news if you specifically want to improve muscular endurance—because, as the source explains, you’ll be able to perform more reps over time if you keep lifting the same weight. However, endurance is only one component of physical fitness and doesn’t account for things like anaerobic fitness or joint flexibility.
Increasing the weight range of your dumbbells can have other benefits, too. According to Mandy Ferreria of Healthline, lifting heavy can help improve confidence, fight aging, strengthen your thinking skills, and more—even though that big weight range may be intimidating at first (16). Ferreira goes on to describe the value of her own heavy-lifting journey:
“Weightlifting makes me care more about the weight on the bar than on my body. [….] It’s about what my body is capable of, not what it looks like.”
What’s better than fitness accessories you can start using right away, even in combination with other workout equipment? Simple: Fitness accessories you can store conveniently.
Dumbbells are conveniently shaped and sized. They can easily be stored in a small space, tucked in a closet or nestled between the bigger machines in your home gym. Better yet, look for a dumbbell rack or mini tray, which keeps your gym equipment from rolling around while you’re trying to do other exercises. That’s not just to keep your home gym looking sleek (although it does that too)—it’s an important way to promote safety and focus during your workouts, and to feel comfortable and confident in your fitness space.
For a dumbbell set that combines all these benefits and more, look no further than the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight 55 Lb. Dumbbell Set.
NordicTrack Select-A-Weight 55 Lb. Dumbbell Set
Whether you were born with a dumbbell in your hand or you’re new to the whole idea, the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight 55 Lb. Dumbbell Set has everything you need. This set offers different weight ranges and sizes without taking up much space, creating a 15-in-1 dumbbell experience you can’t get anywhere else—which makes these the best dumbbells for home gym enthusiasts.
Plus, to help you on your strength training journey, you’ll have your own lineup of personal trainers on iFIT. These workout experts will show you the easiest ways to get started with your adjustable dumbbell set, target different muscle groups with different exercises, test various routines to find one that fits your needs, and more. You can also bring iFIT with you wherever you go, whether it’s a trip to the gym or a walk on your treadmill with a dumbbell in each hand.
As you explore and expand your fitness routine, your iFIT trainers will help you choose workouts that continue to challenge you. You’ll be able to increase your weight range gradually and confidently. Better yet, you’ll see results by tracking your progress on iFIT.
Try iFIT free for 30 days and see for yourself how iFIT can take your fitness to the next level!
All of these reasons and more are why the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight 55 lb. Dumbbell Set is the best fit for your home gym: It’s more than just a dumbbell set — it’s an entire experience.
Adding Dumbbells To Your Workout Routine
Now that you know the best dumbbells to add to your home gym and how they can benefit your workout routine, here’s how to use them.
Beginner Dumbbell Workout
If you’re not yet comfortable with dumbbells or if you’ve used them before but haven’t touched them in a while, you may want to ease them into your existing routine. Personal trainers on iFIT can help you with form and intensity while you’re getting started and as you graduate to different weight ranges.
Here are some likely-familiar exercises that can be done with dumbbells:
- Burpees (19)
- Reverse lunges
- Jumping jacks
- Russian twists
- Glute bridge
If you already perform any of these exercises during your normal routine, gradually integrate weighted variations to get used to the difference. Once you’re comfortable, you can begin using heavier weight or adding dumbbells to more of your regular exercises.
Keep in mind that NordicTrack Select-A-Weight Dumbbell Sets give you the freedom and flexibility to choose the weight range that works best for you. To further personalize your routine, you can also change the number of reps you do, gradually increasing as you become more comfortable with the necessary motions.
Take your time finding new favorite ways to use dumbbells. When you feel like you’re a lifting pro, you’ll be ready to move on to more complex routines designed just for your dumbbells.
HIIT And Dumbbell Workout
HIIT workouts give you the freedom to go from a comfortable pace to a high-intensity burst of activity and back again. They’re a great way to keep from getting bored of your routine—and, perhaps even better, they can be designed around your dumbbells.
Here’s an example of a quick HIIT routine using dumbbells and some of the familiar exercises from above:
- Burpees for 60 seconds
- Squats for 60 seconds
- Reverse lunges for 60 seconds
- Jumping jacks for 20 seconds
- Russian twists for 20 seconds
- Glute bridges for 20 seconds
That’s one round. You’ll perform two more rounds of the same exercises, then rest for 30 seconds. To top off this HIIT routine, you’ll design your own finisher, where you set a timer for 2 minutes, choose 4 of your favorite exercises, and perform 10 each, putting all of your effort into each move.
Total-Body Circuit Workout
Ready to bring your exercise routine to Bangkok? John Peel, iFIT trainer and at-home exercise expert, hosts this full-body dumbbell workout for intermediate lifters. With John’s guidance, you’ll complete 4 circuits of exercises with 12 repetitions per set. The estimated workout time is only 4 minutes and 5 seconds, but your muscles may think otherwise.
Treadmill And Dumbbell Workout
To get even more out of your NordicTrack treadmill, grab your dumbbells before a walk or run. This workout can be as simple or as complex as you like. For example, you can just hold one dumbbell in each hand and move your arms naturally, focusing on your balance as you carry the weight. For more of a challenge, try performing bicep curls and overhead lifts—and try to match into the rhythm of your footsteps.
If you don’t want to worry about controlling speed and incline with dumbbells in your hands, switch on a guided iFIT workout. Your personal trainer will control your treadmill’s settings for you, leaving you free to perform dumbbell exercises to your heart’s desire.
You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to get value from a dumbbell workout. These fitness accessories make an effective addition to any home gym because they’re easy to start using right away and even easier to store. Once you’re a comfortable lifter, you may start to notice all kinds of benefits, from more defined muscles to better coordination. From there, you can change your weight range with the NordicTrack Select-A-Weight 55 lb. Dumbbell Set, putting you fully in control of your workout.
Wherever your dumbbell journey takes you, remember that iFIT will be there every step of the way. With personal trainers who can help you get started, challenge yourself, learn new exercises, perfect your form, and even integrate dumbbells into workout routines like HIIT and treadmill runs, you won’t have to worry about getting bored.
If you’re ready to add this classic workout equipment to your home gym, check out NordicTrack’s premium dumbbell set and dumbbell rack here.
DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. NordicTrack assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article. Always follow the safety precautions included in the owner’s manual of your fitness equipment. Shipping times are dependent on in-stock inventory and delivery timeframes may vary. Make sure to check the website for any specific delays in delivery and shipping.
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McCall, P. (2015, October 1). 5 benefits of dumbbell training. ACE Fitness. https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/5675/5-benefits-of-dumbbell-training/
(2021, May 15). Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier. MayoClinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/strength-training/art-20046670
Van De Walle, G. (2018, November 19). Bodybuilding meal plan: What to eat, what to avoid. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/bodybuilding-meal-plan
Fetters, K.A. (2021, June 18). 11 benefits of strength training that have nothing to do with muscle size. U.S. News. https://health.usnews.com/wellness/fitness/articles/benefits-of-strength-training-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-muscle-size
(2021, May 15). Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier. MayoClinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/strength-training/art-20046670
(n.d.) 5 tips to build muscle strength. Fit & Sweet. https://www.fitandsweet.net/muscle-and-strength-collection
De Araujo Farias, D., Willardson, J. M., Paz, G. A., de S Bezerra, E., & Miranda, H. (2017, July). Maximal strength training performance and muscle activation for the bench press and triceps extension exercises adopting dumbbell, barbell, and machine modalities over multiple sets. J Strength Cond Res., 31(7), 1879-1887. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27669189/
Wedro, B. & Weil, R. (n.d.) How muscles work and how they respond to strength training. MedicineNet. https://www.medicinenet.com/how_muscles_work_and_respond_to_resistance_exercise/views.htm
Gainsburg, M. (2017, January 17). What happens to your body when you always lift the same amount of weight. Women’s Health. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/a19943018/lifting-heavier-weights/#:~:text=%E2%80%9CWhen%20you%20train%20with%20the,the%20American%20Council%20on%20Exercise.
Ferreira, M. (2019, April 18). 7 reasons I lift heavy (and you should too). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/why-i-lift-heavy#1.-Confidence