Guessing has always been my strategy when choosing dumbbells for the arms portion of an indoor cycling workout. As you can imagine, it hasn't worked out well for me. I've either completed an entire arms circuit without feeling a thing, or I'm too fatigued to finish all the reps of the first exercise.
Now that I have my own at-home bike (and some new arm-strengthening goals!), I want to get the most out of my upper body circuits — so, for guidance, I turned to Dilan Gomih, a NASM-certified personal trainer, cycling instructor, and Barry's instructor. Ahead, check out Gomih's tips for choosing the right dumbbells and using them properly.
Try Arms Off Your Bike
When combining short arm circuits and cycling, consider unclipping from your bike for the strength-training segment. "By doing so, you will actually have much better form when performing your moves, and they will thus be more effective," Gomih says.
When I'm following a cycling workout that doesn't include arms, I add a short circuit to the end of my workout, so I don't have to continuously hop on and off my bike. Cooldowns, of course, are non-negotiable!
Overall, Stick to Light Weights
If you're not planning on unclipping from your bike for your arms segment, Gomih suggests choosing a set of dumbbells that falls between 1-5 lbs. — and no more than 5 lbs. per hand. "Typically, the moves cued on the bike have a focus on higher repetitions, so using a lower weight will allow you to keep up."
It might be tempting to grab another set of weights and keep them on the ground, but because arm circuits during cycling tend to be shorter, Gomih suggests sticking to one set of weights — so you don't waste time getting off the bike to grab them. "It's better to optimize the time by having the right weights on hand for the whole circuit! Also, given the space constraints, you don't want to have too much equipment on the bike/around your workout space."
Drop the Weight If Your Form Is Compromised
Choosing the right size dumbbells for your bike takes some personal fitness analysis. If you're doing your arm segment on the bike, Gomih says that form is incredibly important.
"If the weights are too heavy, you may find yourself arching your back or trying to swing up the weights. So, when choosing the right weights, make sure that when doing your bicep curls or shoulder presses, you are able to stay sitting upright and do not have to compromise your form to complete the move."
From there, you should be able to tell if you need to lower the weight. Of course, if you're feeling any pain, have any concerns, or simply want more personalized guidance, you should speak to a certified fitness professional or a doctor before proceeding. Let's be honest: 10 minutes of arm exercises on a bike is not worth an injury or the long road to recovery.
If You're Not Tired, It Might Be Time For Heavier Weights
Picking dumbbells that are too light could stunt your arm-strengthening progress, though. So, keep an eye out for these signs, ahead — it might be time to up the weight."If you find that you can consistently do a 3-5 minute circuit on the bike without needing to take a break or switch exercises, it sounds like it's time to take it up a pound or two," Gomih says. "Also, if you can do 50 reps of an exercise with no fatigue, you're ready to take it up a notch!"