Training with dumbbells is the most versatile form of resistance training. Dumbbells alone can easily replace any other type of training equipment like machines and even barbells. The benefits, paired with their low cost and space demands make them ideal for home workouts.
Building strength in the stabilizing muscles necessary to lift them, and improving coordination and balance are some of the the main benefits of training with dumbbells. But there are other benefits as well.
When executing single extremity exercises, your body will always movilize more muscles to assist in stabilizing the weight, resulting in higher force output. Not to mention that training with dumbbells will help you build a stronger core than any common abodominal exercise would.
The exercises using dumbbells nearly mirror the movements you encounter in your daily life through sport, work or just life activities. So, dumbbell training improves the physical abilities necessary to get more out of life.
History of dumbbells
Dumbbells can be used in so many ways that they alone are responsible for a greater amount of resistance training benefits than any other tried method in the history of the human race.
Although the ancient Egyptians, the ancient Chinese, the ancient Indians, and many other early peoples practiced resistance exercise, credit has traditionally been given to the ancient Greeks for producing the forerunners of our modern weight training equipment. The forerunner of the dumbbell, halteres, were used in ancient Greece as lifting weights.
In the second century AD., the Greek physician Galen published his thoughts on the therapeutic benefits of exercise in De Sanitate Tuenda, a medical text which remained influential into the nineteenth century. Galen discussed there using halteres for a variety of movements and for strengthening the whole body.
By 1828, Charles Beck, the German physical educator who helped introduce German gymnastics to the United States, could begin a section of dumbell exercises in his classic A Treatise on Gymnast, with the confident statement, “these [hand-held dumbells] are too well known to require a particular description.”
"Dumbbells" as a word originated in Tudor England – referring to equipment simulating the action of a bell rope for the purpose of developing technique, and especially strength, for the purpose of practicing English bellringing, but without making a noise (hence dumb). When strongmen started to make their own equipment, they kept the name, even though the shape and form changed. The etymology of the word "kettlebell" is similar.
- Spinlock adjustable dumbbells: Consist of a metal bar whose centre portion is often engraved with a crosshatch pattern (knurling) to improve grip. Weight disks (plates) are slid onto the outer portions of the dumbbell and secured with clips or collars.
- Fixed-weight dumbbells: These are weights created in a dumbbell shape. Inexpensive varieties consist of cast iron, sometimes coated with rubber for comfort, and even cheaper versions consist of a rigid plastic shell that is filled with concrete.
By the early 17th century, the familiar shape of the dumbbell, with two equal weights attached to a handle, had appeared. The two main types of dumbbell are:
- Equipment: A flat adjustable bench is a very important piece of equpment when training with dumbbells. This because many exercises must be executed lying down, and to take the stress off your lower back by sitting down while executing some exercises that can be done standing. Take care in choosing the right kind of dumbbells for your specific needs, comfort and budget. A pair of lifting gloves can come in handy if you wish to keep your hands smooth.
- Cheating: Dumbbell exercises do not, generally speaking, isolate a specific muscle. So trying to cheat in the movement is a natural reaction you should avoid. Examples of cheating is rocking the body back and forth or swinging your arms to ease the effort a proper lifting technique imposes.
- Caution: You’ll need to use caution when incorporating dumbbell exercises in your workout routines since the risk of injury is especially high. Because your body is not fixed in position as is the case when using gym-type machines, it is especially important to be careful in maintaining good posture throughout an exercise.
- Care: You must be careful when picking dumbbells from the floor, using correct body posture and squatting down to lift them up and down and placing them back following your doing a dumbbell exercise.
Other articles in this series:
- Resistance training
- Dynamic body-power training
- From Milo to Milo: A History of Barbells, Dumbells, and Indian Clubs; Jan Todd, Ph.D.
- Dumbbell Exercises; Dumbbell-Exercises.com
- Athletics in the Ancient World; Norman Gardiner.
- A Treatise on Gymnastiks; Charles Beck
Useful Web Links
- Nutrition (8)
- Fitness (5)
- Health (5)
- Natural (4)