Written by Tamara

What dumbbell weight do I need?

So, you're thinking about getting started with dumbbells. You should think carefully about getting dumbbells of the right weight. The right weight dumbbells, you'll train effectively without putting the wrong kind of strain on your muscles. That will help you achieve your training goals more quickly. Below, I'll explain which weight is suitable for you and what to keep in mind when buying dumbbells.

What weight should my dumbbells be?

Different dumbbell weights

The weight your dumbbells should have depends on the exercises you plan to do. An exercise for smaller muscles, such as the triceps on the back of your upper arm, should be done with a lighter weight. Exercises for the bigger muscles, such as the ones in your shoulders and back, are often done with heavier weights. How heavy should your dumbbells be? For women, I recommend weights of 0.5 to 5kg. The 0.5kg weights are suitable for women who have no experience with strength training or haven't exercised for a long time. The 5kg weights are suitable for women who do have experience with strength training or already exercise occasionally. For men the following applies: 5kg for beginner athletes without exercise experience and 10kg for experienced male athletes.

Regular dumbbells or adjustable dumbbells?

Ask yourself what you want to achieve with your workouts and how often you'll be working out. If you exercise once a week to just stay in shape, it's fine to exercise using standard weights the first weeks. In that case, you could buy a single dumbbell or a set of light dumbbells. Do you work out regularly and want to build muscle mass? In that case, it's important to get multiple weights or a dumbbell with adjustable weight.

The difference

Regular dumbbell

Regular dumbbell

A regular dumbbell is a weight that consists of 1 piece. These kind of dumbbells therefore have 1 fixed weight. They're mostly suitable if you work out once a week with some exercises to stay in shape. Focus on doing a lot of reps of one particular exercise. That effects the condition of your muscles and therefore the overall fitness of your body. The regular dumbbells are also suitable if you have no experience with these kinds of weights. In that case, it's better to first do a few work outs with dumbbells of the same weight. That helps you get used to the exercise. Is the exercise becoming easy? Switch to adjustable dumbbells or a set of them.

Adjustable dumbbell

Adjustable dumbbell

An adjustable dumbbell is a dumbbell with adjustable weights. You can also opt for dumbbell sets. You use adjustable dumbbells if your fitness goal is increasing muscle mass or if you plan to do a lot of different exercises during your workout. That's because for some exercises, you can handle a heavier weight than for others. Want to start growing muscle right away? Get an adjustable dumbbell or a set of dumbbells. Do your first few exercises with the same weight. As soon as you have the right posture and can easily do the exercise, you can move up to a higher weight. Have you already done few workouts with the same weight? In that case, it's also a good idea to switch to an adjustable dumbbell or a set of different weights. When you can then do the exercises with the right motion, posture, and level of ease, your muscles will get used to it again and you can increase the weight again.


Having the wrong weight dumbbells isn't just annoying during your workout, but also bad for your muscles and detrimental to achieving your final fitness goals. That's why you should pay attention to:

  • Your posture during the exercise.
  • Starting with a dumbbell weighing 5 to 10kg if you're a man.
  • Starting with a dumbbell weighing 0.5 to 5kg if you're a woman.
  • Mastering the exercise.

If you do these things, you can eventually switch to heavier weights. If that's what you want of course. Now that you no a bit more about dumbbells, you can get the right weights and get started confidently.

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