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What is the best way to record dumbbell weight?

Dear Dr. Bell, I’m new to lifting. What is the proper way to recording dumbbell weight? Do you combine the weight, or use the individual weight?

Most Weight-Lifters, Bodybuilders & Olympic Lifters will tell you that it is a matter of personal preference. The IFPA however, teaches all our Personal Trainers and Fitness Professionals a systems approach to training. Therefore, you should prepare your Program Design so you list the scheduled exercise-total load-planned sets and planned reps. You record what you actually did according to the same system. When you record Load, it is the actual load and therefore, if you use one dumbbell in an exercise like a Triceps Kickback, where you will only use one dumbbell at a time, your Load is the weight of the one dumbbell. As a result, your training log will look like: Triceps KickBack: 30 x 3 x 15 which means 30 pounds (the weight of the one dumbbell you used for 3 sets of 15 Reps).

If you perform an exercise where you use two dumbbells simultaneously, such as the Dumbbell Shoulder Press, you training log will look like: 120 x 3 x 15 which means you used 2*60 pound dumbbells for a total load of 120 pounds for 3 sets of 15 reps.

Personal Trainers, Weight-Lifters, Bodybuilders, Olympic Lifters and other athletes that train with weights, need to maintain consistency in training programs, if for no other reason, to avoid confusion. A Systems Approach that refers to total load for an exercise is an excellent approach to consistency.

There are many Personal Trainers that have systems in place to track total work accomplished for each workout. The above reference of Load x Sets x Reps can provide total work for each exercise and then adding all the exercises together to provide total work for that workout session.

For example: the personal trainer plans a workout session that includes Incline Dumbbell Curls and the client will be using 50 pound dumbbells. After the Personal Training Session is complete, the Personal Trainer has documented each exercise like the example for the dumbbell curl:

100 x 3 x 15 = 4,500 which shows the client lifted a total of 4,500 pounds for 3 sets. The Personal Trainer can now add the total poundage for each exercise together to get total pounds lifted for the day. You will be amazed at how motivating that total number can be.

Personal Trainers use this technique to motivate their clients. You can use this same technique to motivate yourself.

Good Luck with Your Training!

Best Regards,

Dr. Jim Bell