The Real Health Benefits Of Using Dumbbells

Walk into any gym and you'll likely notice the surplus of equipment readily available. It's no wonder the National Institute of Health recommends strength training at every age for overall health and aging. Whether it's leg day or arm day, all gym equipment has some benefit for achieving the desired muscle gains. It's not surprising that one item in particular seems to be well stocked in gyms: the dumbbells.

One of the biggest perks of working out with dumbbells is the versatility this equipment brings. Unlike exercise machines, dumbbells are smaller, handheld equipment that allow you to target movement-specific strength and create various exercise patterns, points out the America Council on Exercise (ACE). In fact, dumbbells allow you to overload specific muscles in isolation to promote muscle strength (per ACE). Take a single-arm bicep curl, for instance. Utilizing one dumbbell at a time allows you to target one arm at a time.

Medical News Today shares that dumbbells also promote stabilization, balance, coordination, and benefit both muscles and joints. Essentially this leads to greater muscle activation at the inter- and intramuscular level (via ACE). Not to mention, the use of dumbbells enhances the flexibility and force of the muscle (per Medical News Today).

How to use dumbbells for exercising

When it comes to exercising with dumbbells, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. The American Heart Association suggests strength training twice a week at least. While you may be tempted to hit the gym more often, a 2018 study published in Sports Medicine (posted at Springer Link) and a 2016 study from the International Journal of Exercise Science (posted at the National Library of Medicine) showed volume mattered greatly when it came to lifting weights and supporting fitness outcomes. What does that mean? Paying attention to the repetitions, sets, and muscles targeted will ultimately provide better benefits for muscle gain (via The Greatist).

With this in mind, it's important to select the best dumbbells to reach your fitness goals. For at-home workouts, consider choosing an adjustable dumbbell for more lifting options (via Medical News Today). Consequently, gym goers should grab the type of dumbbell that feels best. Regardless, Medical News Today recommends starting off with lighter weights when you're beginning and increasing the weight once you're comfortable.

According to ACE, one exercise to get started are reverse lunges with an overhead press. Step back with one leg, trying to get your front leg perpendicular to the ground. Now bend forward and reach toward your front foot with the dumbbells. To stand, bring the back foot forward and begin pressing both arms to overhead (via ACE). Other exercises suggested are lateral lunges, bent-over-row, hip thrusters, and curtsy lunges (per ACE).