Why women should use ’em and how to choose ’em
Aside from the usual reasons free weights are said to be best, there are some advantages to using dumbbells over free weights such as barbells (although both are essential parts of a varied strength training program).
Using dumbbells forces each arm to do an equal amount of work. When performing a bench press with two dumbbells it’s impossible to let a stronger arm pick up the slack. Strength training with dumbbells is a good way to prevent or repair muscle imbalances.
A number of dumbbell exercises aren’t possible when you choose other free weights. Moves like flyes involve both arms moving separately and can’t be performed with barbells, kettlebells or medicine balls. One-arm isolation moves are also much easier with dumbbells.
Types of dumbbells
- Hex - The simplest and often cheapest dumbbells are made with iron and coated with baked enamel. Because of the shape of hexagonal and octagonal dumbbells, they won’t roll away.
- Adjustable - With adjustable dumbbells you won’t have to worry about purchasing dumbbells in all the weights you might require. Just slide on another weight plate when you want added resistance. These dumbbells are often cheaper and always space-saving, but it can be a hassle to detach collars and add plates every time you switch to a new exercise.
- All-in-one - These quick change dumbbells are relatively new and very advanced. They make it easy to add weight to or remove it from a single set of dumbbells. Just place each dumbbell on its special stand, turn the dial and weight plates are either attached or detached in seconds. All-in-ones like the Bowflex SelectTech are great space savers, but their high-tech innovation is reflected in a high price.
- Handle weights - Weights with curved handles or hand straps are easier to use during cardio because they won’t slip from a sweaty palm and go flying. For strength training they are too light to be worthwhile.
- Chrome - Whether it’s just the hang grips or the entire body, there’s no denying the beauty of rounded chrome dumbbells. Just remember, you’ll likely pay more for these top-of-the-line free weights.
- Vinyl or neoprene-coated - Some dumbbells are coated with shiny vinyl or non-slip neoprene. Both coatings make handling easier, although neoprene offers a better grip for sweaty hands (which makes them a good choice for cardio weights). Most are color-coded for easy identification.
- Foam or rubber - Some dumbbells are made more comfortable with the addition of foam or rubber around the grips. Others ensure noise reduction and floor protection with rubber-coated ends.