I asked this question about how to build some basic muscle. Based on the answers I think I will buy some dumbbells, but I am not sure what weight to buy.

My height is 184cm(just over 6 feet) and weight is 80kg(180 pounds).

Should I go just by feel and see what is a challenge for me to lift, or is there a way to calculate what I should start with based on my weight and height?

  • Well...what is your height and weight, and do you have any measurable lifting ability to tell us? :) Feb 13 '12 at 21:47
  • @DaveLiepmann edited question with height and weight, not sure about measurable lifting ability, although I think I am pretty weak....more so than most people for my height and weight anyway Feb 14 '12 at 0:26

enter image description here Height and weight are one factor another is your current strength level. I would recommend simple and cheap dumbbells that you can add weight to - DO NOT get sucked into the adjustable ones (bowflex, etc.) where you can dial the weight you want - they will cost you 20 times more and are difficult to adjust and clanky to use. I would recommend enough weight where you can put 30lbs on each dumbbell in increments of 5lbs each, 10lbs each, 20lbs each up to 30lbs each. Those combinations should last you some time and not cost much to get.


When in doubt, start light and work up to heavy. As far as particular types of dumbbells to get, the simpler to use the better. As Meade Rubenstein pointed out, the adjustable dumbbells (dial-a-weight style) really aren't that easy to use--and the moving parts only add to the complicated nature of those weights.

The question then is fixed or adjustable?

  • Fixed weights are the simplest, easiest to use dumbbells
  • Fixed weights will cost more overall because you have to buy several pair
  • Adjustable weights are slightly more complicated, particularly if you have to swap weights.
  • Adjustable weights are less costly because you can simply buy more weights for them instead of whole dumbbells.

If you decide to go for adjustable weights (like what Meade illustrated above), I do recommend getting more than one pair of handles. That will let you have all the weights you need for your training session already set up.

In general, the more compound you can make your movements, the more you will stimulate your body to build mass. The more isolated you make your movements, the more you will shape the mass you have. For example, goblet squats will stimulate more of your body than curls. Same with dumbbell deadlifts and standing overhead press. You can do the movements unilaterally, meaning alternating sides, which will strengthen your core and stabilizing muscles at the same time you are working on other muscles.

It's best to start really light, so you can focus on technique. Do plan on regularly increasing the weights on a schedule. It takes the mystery out of "do I go up or not?", and it prevents stagnating progress because your body is used to the weight. If you can't get all your desired reps at the heavier weight, or the reps are really ugly, repeat the weight for the next cycle. The goal is to get stronger and stronger.

  • Thanks for your answer. Could you clarify what I should consider light? would 10kg be too little or too much for example? Feb 15 '12 at 1:14
  • Light is whatever is easy for you. If you can lift 10kg without problem for all your exercises go for it. I've seen some kids try and use 3.5kg and it was too much for them--at least for the exercise they were trying. You'll have to try it out before you buy. Feb 15 '12 at 3:43

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