For centuries athletes and strength minded individuals have used the Dumbbell to become stronger. It is a highly effective and universal form of training that has the potential to transform the human anatomy.

They can be found almost everywhere and loaded to almost any movement pattern making them a highly suitable tool for everybody ranging from your average gym goer to world class athlete.

Nearly everyone has an idea of how to use them for exercise. But the potential of dumbbell training does not end with sets and reps.


Today, I would like to give you some principles on how to vary and adapt a dumbbell training program to be more effective and improve your training. This can be applied to nearly every exercise.

Adapt and Vary Your Dumbbell Training Program


Dropsets are a king for absolute muscle fatigue. These will break plateaus on many of your tougher lifts if performed regularly.

First – Begin with a dumbbell you can typically perform for 10 reps. After performing the initial 10 reps immediately change to a lighter dumbbell for another 10 reps.

Repeat this process until you have completely exhausted the muscle or run out of dumbbells to dropset.

dumbbell training program_2

Half Reps

Nearly everyone will have a strong portion and weaker portion of a lift. Half reps can be used to strengthen a weak portion of an exercise.

Simply put, you only do a half of the normal range of motion. For example on a bicep curl you can perform only the bottom half or the top half of the normal full rep. Or a squat– you only go half way up or half way down. This will quickly make your weak points strong.

Tempo Reps

Strength Training is all about placing the muscles under tension to bring about an adaptive change in the tissue. Typically, when performing exercises there is a portion where you are losing muscle tension. Tempo reps ensure that you never lose any tension and can really force that muscle tissue to adapt.

Simply begin with a weight you can lift 10 times. As you are performing the eccentric (Weight Lowering) portion of the lift make sure the descent lasts at least 4 seconds. Now be honest here because if you count too fast you are only cheating yourself!

Pause Reps

The final piece to crushing any plateau is developing the strength to “Pause” a weight in any part of full range of motion.

Begin with a weight you can typically do for 10 or more reps. as you perform the movement, attempt to stop the weight completely and various points of normal range of motion.

For example, as you perform a shoulder press you can stop at eye level, then just over the top of your head, then again at the top of the movement, and then etc… There is simply no limit to what you can do with pause reps and it is guaranteed to improve your movements when performed at regular speed.

Take these principles and use them to your full advantage. Consistently vary your training and your body will be forced to adapt.


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