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Can Dumbbells Build Muscle?

When most people think about weight lifting, the image they get in mind is one of an Olympic power lifter lifting a barbell adorned with massive weight plates over their head in a quick “clean and jerk” motion.  Of course, many of these lifters have the huge bicep, thigh and chest muscles needed to perform this type of maneuver.  But can you develop muscles by using dumbbells only? 

Lean Muscle Mass

The fact is that you don’t need to use massive weights with low numbers of repetitions to increase your muscle mass.  It’s possible to increase lean muscle mass by using dumbbells only.  And the dumbbells don’t need to have a lot of weight either.  By using light to medium weight dumbbells over multiple sets of intermediate repetitions it’s possible to increase your muscle mass. 

The Equipment Needed

An added bonus with dumbbells is that you don’t necessarily have to buy a gym membership or spend huge amounts of money to acquire the equipment necessary to be effective.  Buying an adjustable dumbbell set will allow you to perform a large number of exercises to increase your lean muscle mass.  Add a bench to your workout space and you’re ready to go.  You don’t even need a fancy weightlifting bench.  A simple bench will do just fine. 

Sets And Reps

When deciding on a workout routine using dumbbells to increase your lean muscle mass, look to do several sets of each exercise (8 sets is something to work towards) with 8 to 10 repetitions in each set.  Try to keep your rest period between each period short, (15 to 30 seconds is ideal) and choose a weight that will allow you to complete all your sets with the last few being exhausting enough that you might not be able to finish all your repetitions.  Once you can do 8 sets of 8 repetitions confidently, you can increase your weight.

A Full Body Workout

When choosing your exercises, try to work one body part with each exercise and string together a bunch to get a full body workout.  Try to cycle in exercises such as lunges, squats, bench presses, rows, curls, tricep extensions and sitting or standing presses.  Try to increase the amount of weight you’re lifting as well as the number of repetitions you’re doing as often as possible.  By working out regularly three times a week you may start seeing results as quickly as a month to six weeks after starting. 

Technique and Form

For safety reasons, it’s important to focus on your technique and form to ensure you’re lifting properly and decreasing the chances of injuring yourself.  If you already have injuries such as rotator cuff issues, you can substitute resistance bands for the dumbbells to lower the chances of exacerbating the problem.

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