Guide to Properly Using an Adjustable Dumbbell

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Are you making the shift from regular dumbbells to an adjustable dumbbell set? That’s awesome! Adjustable dumbbells do not only save space but also time from having to find the right set of dumbbells according to your needed exercise and weight every time. The use of an adjustable dumbbell is perfect if you have a small home gym or simply want to be more effective in the exercises you are doing.

The first step is to find the right adjustable dumbbell set for you, and we have a guide to help you do this: Guide to Choosing an Adjustable Dumbbell

adjustable dumbbell

Once you find the right adjustable dumbbell set, the next step is to be familiar with the best way to use it to ensure that you will get the most out of this versatile and innovative exercise equipment. For the most part, adjustable dumbbells are much like your regular dumbbells, except all the weights you need are already right there, part of one complete package. To get the right weight, all you have to do is to adjust some knobs in the dumbbell.

The Best Ways to Use an Adjustable Dumbbell Set

Using adjustable dumbbells effectively requires attention to both safety and technique. It is important to also know your capability and skill, as well as the stage in which you are in terms of exercise and lifting weights. Here’s a guide to help you use adjustable dumbbells:

Adjust the Weight Properly

Most adjustable dumbbells have a mechanism for changing the weights (e.g., a dial, a clip, or a slide pin) depending on the type of adjustable dumbbell set that you got.

Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions to adjust the weights safely. Once you have adjusted the weights, ensure that they are securely locked in place before doing any lifting to prevent possible accidents such as a weight falling off on your toes.

Warm Up

Before you do the actual heavy lifting, always start with a warm-up. This could include light cardio or dynamic stretches just to prepare your muscles and joints for the exercise. Forgetting to warm up can cause excessive muscle soreness after the exercise and can even lead to risks and injury.

woman doing gym exercise

Properly Grip the Dumbbell

Keep a proper grip of the adjustable dumbbell—firmly but without excessive squeezing—to prevent your hands from getting tired prematurely while keeping the dumbbell secure without slipping off your hands.

In addition to a balanced grip, be sure to also maintain a neutral wrist position to prevent hand strain.

Keep a Proper Posture and Spine Alignment

When lifting the adjustable dumbbell, you may stand or sit as long as you keep a straight spine and engaged core. Keep proper alignment in your joints throughout the exercise session to prevent or reduce the risk of any injury.

Start with Light Weights

This is especially important if you’re new to lifting, are trying a new exercise, or it’s your first time to use an adjustable dumbbell. Begin with lighter weights as you familiarize yourself with the new equipment. Instead of focusing on the weight of the dumbbell that you are carrying, focus first on proper form and technique. Get a feel of your body until you find your balance and confidence.

Observe Controlled Movements

No matter how much comfortable you already feel in handling your adjustable dumbbell set and the different weights, it is important to continue to practice caution in using it.

Avoid swinging the dumbbell, as this can strain muscles and lead to injuries. In addition, always lift and lower the weights in a slow, controlled manner to maximize muscle engagement and minimize momentum.


This is a general guideline when exercising, whether you are using adjustable dumbbells or something else. Exhale during the exertion phase (lifting or pushing), and inhale during the relaxation phase (lowering or returning).

Controlled Range of Motion

When exercising, use a full range of motion appropriate for the specific exercise without compromising your joints or form. One important thing to remember is to avoid locking your joints at the top of the movement.

man weighlifting

Practice Variety in Your Exercise

One of the good things about an adjustable dumbbell set is that it allows for a wide range of exercises. It will allow you to explore different exercises to target various muscle groups, from arms to legs.

To get the most out of a workout routine, it is best to incorporate compound movements (e.g., squats, lunges, presses) to your exercise.

The Right Exercise Progression

When lifting weights, don’t dive headfirst—meaning, don’t go straight to very heavy weights that may be above your normal weight lifting capability. Otherwise, you risk getting injured. This is especially true if you are new to this type of exercise. Instead, gradually increase your weight level as your strength improves to continue challenging your muscles effectively.

Cool Down

While warm up is important, finishing your workout with a cooldown is as important. A cooldown may include static stretching to improve flexibility and reduce muscle soreness as an effect of your workout.

Additional Safety Tips

  • Always have a spotter if you are attempting heavy lifts.
  • Check your adjustable dumbbell set regularly for wear and tear, especially the locking mechanism.
  • If you feel pain or discomfort during an exercise, stop and reassess your form.
man doing gym exercise

Some Exercises You Can Do with an Adjustable Dumbbell

Bicep Curl: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, palms facing forward. Curl the dumbbells toward your shoulders, then lower. Do several repetitions.

Shoulder Press: Hold dumbbells at shoulder height, with palms facing forward. Press the weights upward until your arms are fully extended, then lower. Repeat for several times.

Squats: Hold dumbbells at your sides, with feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down as if sitting back into a chair, then stand up.

Adjustable dumbbells are versatile and efficient for strength training at home or in the gym. By following the guidelines above, you can safely and effectively incorporate them into your fitness routine.

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