The ideal adjustable dumbbells would be an obvious sell: the right weight, just at the right time, without a big bulky rack of weight taking up space. However, if anyone has ever learned anything about fitness or strength training, it's about the value of flexibility. The human body is amazingly adaptable and when challenged to a physical challenge, it responds by increasing its functional capacity. That means if you improve your flexibility, you improve your body's ability to do the same exercises over again, to fatigue the muscle that did the work.
I think the biggest influence on our physical fitness comes from our homes and gyms. When we go to the gym, we're using fixed weights that take up room and aren't always appropriate for most people. We spend so much time in the car, flying and living out of town that we don't often get a chance to really stretch our muscles. But when we're at home, the weights are there, and when we use adjustable dumbbells, we can reach over and target those hidden muscles.
Dumbbells come in all different weights and are used for a variety of exercises. Most people start with adjustable dumbbells that allow them to change the weight from underhanded to overhand grips, or vice versa. Some people like the feel of having a heavy "trunk" hanging on their arms while they perform other exercises. Others prefer not to have any weight hanging from their arms at all. And some prefer to keep their trunks at the same position on all the different weights they use.
Different people will use different amounts of weight and different sets of adjustable dumbbells for their workout routine. For example, if someone is a power lifter or a bench press girl, they'll likely use the largest weight and larger sets of dumbbells possible. Someone who's just doing simple strength training might only need a set or two of each weight size, and less frequently.
One benefit of the adjustable dumbbells is they make it easy to add weight to the handles as you gain strength or body mass. You simply add more plates to the handle (or remove existing plates) and do a repetition or two on the adjustable dumbbells. That's why I like adjustable dumbbells – it's very easy to do more reps and add weight to a routine as you become stronger.
To further simplify the dumbbell exercise movement, let's break it down into two broad categories: standing exercises and standing-only exercises. There are basically four types of standing exercises – biceps curls, triceps extensions, seated shoulder press, and seated rows. Each of these has its own unique "grip," or technique, and using two broad categories makes it easier to compare fixed dumbbell workouts to the other exercises. In the biceps curl, for instance, your grip should be firm but flexible, and you shouldn't flare your elbows out at any time during the exercise. If you do flare your elbows, your biceps will "over-compensate" and that can result in pinching of the forearm muscles. That kind of "over-compensating" action just doesn't happen with the fixed dumbbells.
Now let's take a look at the second category of exercise. The standing-only exercises include dead lifts and bent over rows. Both are excellent work outs, but I've found that I prefer the former for max strength and the latter for fat loss and muscle development. Most people who'd use adjustable dumbbells would probably do the standing-only exercise first, then progress to the second if they were able to lift more weight. With the fixed dumbbells, you're forced to curl through, which isn't always ideal for fat loss.
Finally, let's talk about another common question: which is better – free weights or adjustable dumbbells for your home gym? Well, there's no clear-cut answer. It depends largely on your goals and your skill level. While free weights are definitely more expensive than adjustable dumbbells, many experts have said that you'll spend much more time working out with the former. For most folks, the decision comes down to whether they prefer machines or free weights. You can make an effective choice without even having to choose one.