Working out with dumbbells requires a specific mindset.
Each exercise equipment including dumbbells has an intrinsic, internal characteristics which are within the equipment and extrinsic, an external value which is how you use it.
Many times we misunderstand the intrinsic characteristics of an equipment and try to use it for the wrong purpose, or we rely too much on the intrinsic features of the equipment and forget that our success is in how we use the equipment, the benefits of it.
This way of looking at an exercise helps you view your mindset which is the most important factor in your success.
Knowing the origin of the term dumbbell helps you understand this much better. The term comes from Dumb meaning without noise and Bell. It was designed in the beginning to be a technique to ring a rope bell without noise.
Can you imagine how far removed ringing a bell is the set of dumbbells you have at home or use at the gym? The term is also a slang for a stupid person, a dummy or a dolt. Over the last few decades, human innovation and marketing have made several changes that change the use of dumbbells. Who knows what will be called a dumbbell couple of hundred years from now.
As an exercise equipment, a dumbbell must have some basic characteristics. These intrinsic features of dumbbells exist in dumbbells alone and do not change as you make them look different. If these intrinsic values change, you’ll have another product that looks like a dumbbell but does not act like a dumbbell.
The dumbbell as a versatile, easy to use, effective exercise equipment is a short bar with a weight balanced weights at each end. If you make the bar too long or the weights off balanced in any way, it will force you to alter your motions an reduce the effectiveness and increase the risks.
These ideas are simple but often neglected or comprised because of lack of space or budget or information.
Let’s look at the short bar concept.
A bar that is too long, forces you to move the dumbbell away from your body and from each other. In dumbbell bicep exercises, for example, a long bar engages your mid deltoid muscle and if you try to keep your elbows fixed to your side, it creates mismanagement at your elbow and wrist. You being to compromise the integrity and health of your joints.
Or in a dumbbell shoulder press, a long bar keeps the dumbbells away from each other at the top of the moment and prevents you from getting a full range of motion in your delts and a full stretch in your lats. Over time, this action will reduce the range of motion you need and contributes to shoulder stiffness and even more serious shoulder injuries.
A simple thing like a short handle can have profound impacts on your results and your health.
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