Hand Weights are a great tool for increasing strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, toning and even help with controlling or losing body weight.  The added resistance helps increase exertion for muscles and the cardiovascular system if used as a circuit or performing exercises and a quicker rate.

Hand weights allow you to move through a more normal range of motion than machines.  They allow you to move in a range that targets more muscles fibers than machines.

They provide more variety of exercises that can be done to work the body in multiple planes instead of just one or two planes. Not to mention they are affordable, do not take up a lot of room and exercises can be done at home or the office at any time on your schedule.


General guidelines for using hand weights:

Determine your goal.  Do you want to gain more muscle mass or do you want more muscle tone and endurance?  Refer to the chart below for sets and repetitions to perform for your goal.

In general, as the number of sets and reps increase the weight decreases.  As the weight increase the sets and reps decrease. Lighter the weight with greater repetitions will give you more toning and muscle endurance.

For more muscle mass and strength perform moderate to higher weights with low to moderate repetitions.  For greater power output, such as in lifting or moving heavy weights at one time perform higher weights with less repetitions.

Training  Goal: Sets Repetitions Weight Days/Week Day Rest Between*
Strength 2-6 6-8-10 Low – Moderate 3-4 min. 24 hrs
Power  (i.e. 100%) 1-2 Heavy 1-2 min. 48 hrs
Power (i.e. 85-90%) 3-5 3-5 Mod – Heavy 2-3 min. 48 hrs
Hypertrophy(muscle size) 3-6 6-12 Mod – Heavy 3-4 24 hrs lighter weight48 hrs for heavier wt
Muscular Endurance 2-3 12-15-20 Low – Moderate 3-4 24 hrs.

* Day Rest Between next weight lifting exercise bout.

REST – This includes rest during each set and rest between days of exercise.  This is one area that I see many lifting programs fail or succeed.  For endurance, take 30-40 seconds between sets at low – moderate weight.

Take 1 – 1 1/2 minutes for sets at higher weights.  For sets and reps done at near maximal levels take at least 2 minutes between but no more than 3 minutes. Be sure to rest enough days between exercise bouts.  You do not want to perform the same exercises every day. Alternate days or use different exercises for the same area.

Exercise Order – perform large muscle group exercises first, then work to small muscle groups.  This helps support the small muscle joints and decreases the chance of fatigue at the small joints.

For upper body perform rowing, bench press or lat pulldowns first then perform deltoid or arms raises, overhead presses then biceps, triceps and wrist exercises.  Lower body would perform squats and step ups then lunges, single leg exercises and calf raises.

Always perform exercises in a full range of motion as is comfortable and in a controlled manner.  Do not force the range of an exercise or force the hand weight.

Exercise Selection– choose exercises that work all muscles, back, chest, arms, legs, front, back and sides.  You can either divide exercise days into body parts such as chest, arms and shoulders on one day and hips, thighs and calves another.

This is typically done if trying to improve muscle size and power.  Or, you can perform a full body workout by selecting exercises that work the upper body and lower body. This is typically done for endurance or toning or recovery days.

A hand weight workout to sculpt arms, shoulders and back-02

3-Day-A-Week Hand Weight Workout

This is an easy way to get started and will use full body workouts for each day as its example.

Monday Wednesday Friday
Squat  3 x 15 Lunges 3 x 12 Squat  3 x 15
Bent Over Row  3 x 15 Reverse Flies  3 x 15 Bent Over Row  3 x 15
Step Up  3 x 12 Forward Lunge  3 x 12 Step Up  3x 12
Shoulder Press  3 x 10 Upright Row  3 x 12 Shoulder Press 3 x 10
Lateral Lunge   3 x 20 Side Stepping  3x 20 Lateral Lunge  3 x20
Chest Press  3 x 12 3 Position Arm Raises  3 x 10 Chest Press  3 x 12
Calf Raises  3 x 20 Shin Raises 3 x 25 Calf Raises  3 x 20
Biceps Curl 3 x 12 Push Ups  3 x 12 Biceps Curl  3 x 12
Triceps Overhead 3 x 15 Triceps Kickback  3 x 15 Triceps Overhead  3 x 15
Bicycles Lower Abd 3 x 30 Hip Raises  3 x 30 Bicycles 3 x 30
Diagonal Crunches 3 x 25 Trunk Rotations 3 x 15 Diagonal Crunches  3 x 25

5-Day-A-Week Hand Weight Workout

This is more advanced from the 3 days but will show how the workouts are divided into upper body and lower body workouts on different days.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Squat  3×15 Bent Over Row  3×15 Core Day Front Squat  3×12 Reverse Flies  3×15
StepUp 3 x 12 Shoulder Press 3 x 12 Forward Lunge 3×12 Upright Row  3 x 12
Lunge  3 x 10 Deltoid Raises  3 x 12 Side Stepping  3×20 Deltoid Raises 3×10
Side Step 3×20 Biceps Hammer 3×15 Single Leg Glut 3×25 Lateral Bicep 3×12
Calf Raises 3×20 Triceps Kickback  3×15 Calf Raise 3 Pos 2×20 Triceps Ovrhd  3×15
Scissors 3×20 Bicycles 3×30 Hip Lifts 3x 30 Bicycles 3×30
Trunk Rot 3×15 Lateral Bending 3×15 Side Crunches 3×15 Trunk Rot 3×15
Crunches 3×15 Back Extensions 3×15 Full Situp  3×10 Diag Ext 3×15

Keep in mind these are general programs that can be used for any fitness or exercise regime.  As you see core exercises are included with every workout session.

After two or three weeks choose different exercises that work the same area to continue to increase strength gains and endurance gains while working all aspects of the muscles.

Using a variety of exercises stimulates the muscle to achieve great strength gains.  Be sure you choose exercises that allow you to work in multiple planes of movement not just straight up and down but rotational and diagonal patterns.

There are many different exercises to choose from to get you the results you want and have doing so.

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