What Effect Does a Ten Pound Dumbbell Have on a Person?

Close-up of a Woman Lifting a Dumbbell

Unless you are new to strength training, lifting 10-lb. dumbbells might not seem challenging enough to have an effect on your strength. There are, however, exercises and resistance training techniques you can use that can turn those light hand weights into effective strength-building tools.

Small Weights for Small Muscles

You can do several upper body exercises effectively, especially those that focus on the shoulders and arms, with weights as light as 10 lbs. Concentration biceps curls, overhead shoulder presses, lateral shoulder raises and triceps kickbacks each work smaller upper body muscles that can be challenged with much lighter weights. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, if you feel challenged by performing eight to 12 repetitions of an exercise you will improve your strength and power. If you can do 15 to 20 repetitions, you will improve muscular endurance. If you are a middle-aged or older adult just starting exercise, you can achieve strength results with 10 to 15 repetitions. Regardless of the reps you perform, aim to get two to four sets of each exercise for optimal results.

Low Weights/High Reps

It was traditionally thought that you have to train with heavy weights to gain muscle but recent research shows otherwise. A study published in the August 2010 issue of the journal, "Plos One" concluded that low-load high volume resistance training is actually more effective at increasing muscle than high-load low volume training. The study suggests that you can effectively gain muscle even when you train with light weights such as 10-lb. dumbbells.

Tips For Results

If you’re looking to gain strength in your bigger muscles with light weights you must perform a high number of repetitions. According to the "Plos One" study as well as research done at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, you have to train to the point of fatigue. That means that rather than stick to the standard eight to 12 repetitions, you might have to lift a weight as many as 25 or 30 times per set to get results. This type of training is especially beneficial to people who have joint problems and are unable to lift heavier weights.

Don't Forget the Guidelines

Train each major muscle group two to three days per week using a variety of exercises for best results. If you are new to exercising, start with lower reps and gradually work your way to more reps as your muscles become accustomed to training. Stop lifting immediately if you feel a sharp pain or you can no longer lift the weight with good form. Wait at least 48 hours between training sessions of the same muscle groups to allow your muscles to rest and grow.