How To Choose The Right Dumbbells
And Not Get Ripped Off
By Mike Westerdal
Dumbbells are one of the most useful and versatile pieces of exercise equipment you can own. They can be used to effectively train any body part and are ideal for anyone, regardless of skill level, age, training capacity or fitness goals.
A good set of dumbbells is just about all you need to achieve your fitness goals in the privacy and comfort of your own home. They offer significant cost savings over a gym membership-plus you don't have to waste time and gas getting there. And with dumbbells there's no need to spend thousands of dollars on fancy, hi-tech fitness machines advertised on television or magazines.
In shopping for dumbbells you've got to do it right. It's easy to wind up spending a lot more money on dumbbells than necessary so your homework and don't get ripped off.
In the past, dumbbells were basically little more than metal bars with a couple of iron weights attached to the sides. Functional yes, but the old-style dumbbells were not particularly well-suited for the average home gym. Not only were they unsightly, but storage was often a problem and they were also prone to rolling around and just generally getting in the way. Today though, there are a wide variety of styles, shapes and weights.
First off, dumbbells today are available with both fixed and variable weights. The variable varieties have a clamp or screw-type fixture on the ends of the bar to hold the weights in place. Variable-style dumbbells typically support up to about 50 pounds, making them ideal for the person with somewhat aggressive fitness goals. For the beginner or persons who are primarily looking to tone their bodies or maybe just lose a few pounds, fixed-weight dumbbells may be the best route to go.
Fixed-weight dumbbells are available in a broad range of styles-and colors too. The weights are usually hex- or octagon shaped to reduce the chances that they'll roll around. Also, in many of the varieties developed specifically for the home, the weights are covered in rubber or vinyl, which considerably lowers the risk of damaging your floor or furniture when you set them down.
For the person frequently on the go who wants to be able to workout in the hotel room, aqua dumbbells may be the right piece of equipment for you. When empty, these innovative dumbbells weigh just a few ounces, take up minimal space and fit easily into a briefcase or duffel bag. To use them, you just fill them up with water and you're all set to work out. They range in weight up to a maximum of about 16 pounds.
Before rushing out and buying a set of dumbbells, take time to think about your goals, where you'll be working out and where you'll be storing them-especially if you live in a condominium or apartment with limited space.
If general fitness or toning up is your goal then you won't want a lot of weight-up to about 12 pounds for women and maybe up to 20 pounds for men. You'll want a few different increments of weight though so you can vary your workouts. For women and older folks two-pound increments are ideal-for men, five-pound increments should work well.
So once you've made those decisions you can embark on a quest for the right dumbbells for you. My first rule of thumb is this: Keep it simple. Start small, establish a foundation and upgrade from there if necessary.
You might consider buying your first set of dumbbells used. There are plenty of people out there who bought nice dumbbells only to have them being used as doorstops six months later. Take advantage of their lack of commitment and enjoy the savings.
Depending on the style, quantity and where you buy them, a new set of dumbbells can cost anywhere from $1 per pound up to about $2.50 per pound. Sometimes you can find bargains online, but keep in mind weights can be costly to ship. We've seen some competitive prices at an equipment site called TheBenchPress.com. There is a link on the left hand navigation column entitled, "Dumbbells". It's worth comparing prices before purchasing.
On the other hand, a used set of dumbbells might run from as little as 25 cents a pound up to maybe 50 cents a pound. You can find really good deals on used dumbbells by scanning classified ads. If there are any stores in your area that sell used fitness equipment you should check them out as well-don't forget thrift shops and garage sales too.
Now you're equipped with the basic information you need to go about setting up your own home gym with dumbbells that are right for your needs and goals-and without getting ripped off. Stay tuned for the next lesson were we'll reveal the best space saving dumbbell set around!
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Mike Westerdal is the author of the first and original...
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