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How to Use Dumbbells Correctly

3 Mistakes You're Making When Using Dumbbells

Dumbbells are one of the most widely used pieces of exercise equipment, and for good reason. They're affordable enough to have in a home gym, easy to handle, and can be used to strengthen every muscle in the body. The next time you pick up a pair, avoid these lifting mistakes.

Using the Same Pair For Every Move

Why it's bad: Not all muscles have the same strength. Lifting too light a weight isn't effective for strengthening the body, but even worse, a weight that's too heavy puts you at risk for a strained or torn muscle.
The fix: Use different weights to target muscles effectively. I keep a set of six-, eight-, and 10-pound weights on hand, and depending on the difficulty of the exercise and the strength of my muscles, I change up the weight. You'll know the dumbbell is the correct weight when your muscles fatigue after eight to 12 reps. Follow that rule when lifting, and you'll achieve quicker results.

Keep reading for more dumbbell mistakes and how to fix them.

Being Too Tense

Why it's bad: Strength training is all about working your muscles, but it's important to relax your body in order to focus completely on the specifics of the exercise at hand. This will ensure correct form, which will prevent injury.
The fix: Avoid tensing up muscles the exercise isn't specifically targeting. For example, when doing triceps kickbacks, don't tense up the shoulders, grip the dumbbell tightly with your hand, or clench your glutes.

Using Momentum to Move the Dumbbell

Why it's bad: When following the beat of your favorite workout playlist, it's easy to get into a groove and allow momentum to move the weight instead of controlling the movement. Lifting or lowering too quickly means you're not fully using your muscles' full range of movement, which means you're wasting time.
The fix: Slow down your reps. Also try varying the speed (one example is to lift for a count of four and lower for a count of eight). Remaining in complete control of the dumbbell and paying attention to your form will ensure you're getting the most out of each move.

Image Source: Thinkstock
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Kendra15068393 Kendra15068393 2 years
Those are some good tips indeed for weight lifting, but I'd like to add on an exception to the "avoid tensing up muscles the exercise isn't specifically targeting". In pretty much every single exercise, don't be afraid to squeeze those abs to get in some ab action! Honestly, some people don't even need to do traditional/isolated ab exercises if they can focus on tightening their abs for the majority of the workouts they do.
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