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You Asked: Heavier Dumbbells or More Reps?

Dear Fit,
I'm working on toning my arms so I look awesome in the strapless dress for my sister's Spring wedding. I'm wondering which is better when it comes to dumbbells — heavier weights with less reps, or more reps with lighter weights?
—Toning-Up Tara

I love this question since women are always asking me how to effectively tone their arms. To find out my take on this weighty issue (ha, pun intended)


Basically a good rule of thumb is to use a weight amount that tires your muscles after eight to 12 reps. This is known as muscle fatigue, where you feel discomfort or a slight burning sensation in the muscle you're working. If you can do more reps than that, the weight is too light. This rule may mean you need to use different size dumbbells for different activities, say a 10-pound dumbbell for bicep curls, but a six-pound dumbbell for tricep kickbacks. If you use lighter weights to do your strength-training exercises, it will just take you many more reps, which means more time spent working out. So it's a "six of one, half a dozen of the other" issue. Spend less time and use heavier weights to do less repetitions, or spend more time doing more reps with lighter weights. Personally, I'd rather save time and use the heavier weights. Don't forget to add pushups to your strength-training plan. They are a great exercise for toning your arms.


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