Updated: Aug 31, 2021
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we all need to be doing some strength workouts as part of our weekly fitness programme. Using hand weights (also known as free weights or dumbbells) is the perfect way to include strength training in your home workout, they’re perfect for beginners and you can vary the weight depending on the exercise you’re doing.
Why do we need to target strength?
As we get older, we lose muscle mass which affects our metabolism and makes us more susceptible to falling and injury.
The chances are you might have a pair of hand weights collecting dust at the back of the wardrobe, well now is the time to re-acquaint yourself with these essentials of strength training! Or if you need to buy a pair, they’re relatively inexpensive and easy to get hold of.
Hand weights are perfect for home workouts as they don’t take up much room (just watch the light fittings and pictures as you heave them around!)
How heavy should my hand weights be?
The simple answer is as heavy as you can manage before you lose your form, ie. Not too heavy that you can’t do the exercise without swinging the weight or leaning over. Our Lift workouts work best with a 1-3kg set of hand weights.
So what are the other benefits of exercising with hand weights?
1. Posture: the rounded shoulders and hunched posture of our desk-based lives puts added pressure on our backs, limiting our range of motion. Lifting weights opens up the chest and strengthens back and core muscles to improve our movement and alignment.
2. Bones: as we age our bones become weaker and more brittle. As the muscles contract against bones during strength exercise, bone density improves over time, a great advantage for post-menopausal women and those with osteoporosis.
3. Balance: when we use hand weights, each side of our body has to work equally hard to keep us steady so it strengthens our core without even realising. Free weights are a great way of re-adjusting any imbalances in our body and working our stabiliser muscles in our spine and ankles.
4. Manage stress: like all exercise forms, strength training releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones, which may even protect us against dementia. When working with weights, we focus on the moves, shutting out other busy thoughts and worries.
Mixed up with other aerobic exercise classes, our Lift hand weights class gives you a great selection of whole body workouts.
If you don't have handweights just yet, you can use bean cans or water bottles!
We have a wide selection of handweight classes on our Fitness membership dashboard, ready for you to do anytime you like. Check out this page for more details.
*NEW CLASS* Using handweights & booty bands. Tuesday 9th March 7.30pm - 8.15pm
Live streamed on Facebook or receive a recording if you can't make it live.
£4.99 booked here