Dumbbells have been around since possibly the 2nd century and have not changed much in their overall design except to become more technical. The exercises used today had their beginnings centuries ago. Man was very inventive in their use of exercise equipment and to a degree still is today. If you don’t have a pair of dumbbells, a container of water will serve the same purpose, or anything that can be hoisted by your arms to get a range of motion to lift.
Back in the 1950’s when Charles Atlas was shown in every magazine imaginable, lifting using barbells or dumbbells, his sculptured and chiseled figure was a wish most boys aspired to. The basic dumbbell with a bar with attached weights became the most sought after lifting equipment besides barbells. A collar using a set screw or nut for tension was used to change pounds.
Today we have the same type of dumbbell, but with a threaded collar that holds the weights on. We also have a large range of adjustable dumbbells that use either dials or pins to change pounds, replacing the need to take off and put on a new weight. Just turn the dial or slide the pin to a desired poundage and lift up, and the correct pounds are already on the bar. The dial allows for quick changes during rep changes so that cool down does not occur. They are very compact, mobile, and easy to use, having a weight range that is acceptable to beginners as well as advanced weightlifters.
What type of dumbbell should I choose?
There are various types that we have discussed briefly.
- The spin lock which is similar to old style dumbbells, but the bar has threaded ends and a threaded collar spins on and locks tight the weight. These are good basic sets and resemble the sets of old. Not a quick change however. The weights are removed, and a new one put on which can slow down an exercise routine. But for decades they were all that was available, so I don’t feel it holds you back all that much.
- For those of you who crave speed in going from one rep to the next, the dial is the fastest. Select your pounds by spinning the dial and lift up with the correct weight. Some come with one dial to change both sides, and others have dials on both sides. It all depends on what you want to do.
- The pin type has you lifting a pin, sliding it to an appropriate pound and when lifted up everything is attached. Slightly slower than a dial, but you do not have to take weights on and off.
These sets usually go up to fifty pounds but in some cases you can get the heavier sets at a higher price. A good versatile set at a fair price is the Bayou Fitness Adjustable Dumbbells BF-0250. These in my opinion are the best buy for the money.
So what are some of the better exercises?
Most modern day exercise routines utilize the same types of routines that they used centuries ago, but with certain refinements. After all, there is only so many ways one can actually lift.
- The basic curl is the most common exercise for the arms targeting the biceps. Some may want to tone their muscles, and some may want to bulk up. A curl used with progressive heavier weights will eventually develop your biceps into whatever you desire.
- Squats, holding the bars in front you. Works the shoulders, arms, and lower body. A very effective workout especially in higher ranges.
- The shoulder press, with the bars above each shoulder, is an excellent upper body exercise targeting the deltoids.
- Rowing works the middle back, and upright rows work the upper back muscles
- Toe raises work the calves, which is a good leg exercise
- Lunges work the muscles of the lower back and the legs
Many variations of these same exercises can work different muscles allowing you to expand your training.
What are the benefits of training with dumbbells?
You get a good cardiovascular workout using a wide assortment of weights. These sets are a great tool to build up your heart health but don’t neglect other basics like walking, running, and biking as the added benefits that they bring to the table will help you in the future. Needless to say, you will develop muscle mass and increase your bone density which will have long term benefits as you age. Age is not an issue when training, you may not be able to lift as much, but it is a fact that weight training as seniors can significantly help your long term health. So decide on what works for you and start a healthy lifestyle.