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The dumbbell, a type of free weight, is a piece of equipment used in weight training. It can be used individually or in pairs, with one in each hand. "Dumbbells" as a word originated in late Stuart England. It referred to equipment used to simulate the action of pulling a bell rope. Designed to develop technique, and especially strength, to practise English bellringing (see Change Ringing), dumbbells made no noise, and were hence "dumb".


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Guide to Buying Dumbbells


Dumbbells are the first equipment exercise that a guy would buy. Dumbbells and barbells are essential equipment exercise for muscle building in the upper body. Arnav Sarkar, fitness instructor from Kolkata, explains what you must look for, when you buy weights. Here is a guide to buying dumbbells and barbells.


It is important to know, how to buy dumbbells since it will be with you for a long time. Arnav says, “Dumbbell generally come either in fixed or adjustable designs. If space and cost is not a concern, then I would suggest that you go for fixed weight dumbbells. These are more comfortable, and easy to use, since you do not have to open and add/reduce plates all the time.”


Arnav Sarkar takes you through buying adjustable weights, “On the other hand, if cost and space is a concern, then adjustable dumbbells is the solution. An adjustable dumbbell is a dumbbell rod, in which you can add weight plates, just like you do with regular barbells. They are much cheaper, and require lesser space.”


If you want to lift more weights opt for barbells. Here’s the guide to buying barbells, with the help of our fitness expert, Arnav. “The top barbell that one can buy is the standard Olympic bar. These bars can hold 100’s of kgs, and are ideal for heavy duty training. So if heavy lifting and maximum muscle building is your goal, then you need to get an Olympic bar.”


There are other options for buying barbells says Arnav, “However, a standard Olympic barbell, is costlier than a regular barbell, and also weighs a lot more. For some women and the elderly population the bar itself might be too heavy to lift in the early stages. In such cases, a regular barbell can also be used, since the trainee will be using lighter weights.  In general, if you are lifting less than 75 kgs or about 165 pounds, then you do not have to necessarily buy an Olympic bar.”


Fixed Dumbbells


A fixed dumbbell is probably the most common type of dumbbell found in a commercial facility. Fixed dumbbells are normally the kind you would see on a horizontal or upright rack. They are usually sold in pairs and weigh anything from 1kg to 100kg each.

It really depends on the client base or individuals strength, but small gyms or home users will typically look at a 2.5kg-30kg fixed dumbbell sets. Larger more commercial gyms with a wide member base might look at 2.5kg-50kg but the higher end of 50kg-100kg will probably only be relevant for facilities that cater for serious weight lifters and bodybuilders.


Fixed Rubber Dumbbells


Fixed Rubber dumbbells tend to best meet the needs of someone looking for a hard wearing, robust dumbbell for their commercial gym which will withstand the daily abuse of a busy facility. They would also make a great addition to a premium home gym because the quality and feel you get from these dumbbells is exceptional.


One of the main benefits of a rubber dumbbell over bare chrome or cast iron is that the rubber offers a protective outer coating that protects both the dumbbell, the storage stand and the surrounding lifting area. Scratches, chips and dents are easily noticeable on metal weights, but are far less common on rubber dumbbells. Rubber dumbbells also help to reduce noise when they are dropped by the user.



Dumbbell Types


By the early 17th century, the familiar shape of the dumbbell, with two equal weights attached to a handle, had appeared. There are currently three main types of dumbbell:


A spinlock adjustable dumbbell.


Adjustable dumbbells consist of a metal bar whose centre portion is often engraved with a crosshatch pattern (knurling) to improve grip. Weight disks (plates) are slid onto the outer portions of the dumbbell and secured with clips or collars. Shown to the right is a "spinlock" dumbbell, whose ends are threaded to accept large nuts as collars. Alternatively, a dumbbell may have smooth ends with plates being secured by a sprung collar. Nowadays, many commercially sold dumbbells are available with sophisticated, and easy-to-use methods for weight increments adjustments.


Fixed-weight dumbbells are weights created in a dumbbell shape. Inexpensive varieties consist of cast iron, sometimes coated with rubber or neoprene for comfort, and even cheaper versions consist of a rigid plastic shell that is filled with concrete.


"Selectorized" dumbbells are adjustable dumbbells whose number of plates (i.e. weight) can be easily changed when resting in the dumbbell stand. This is achieved by adjusting the number of plates that follow the handle when lifted, e.g. by turning a dial or moving a selector pin — rather than manually adding or removing plates. This makes it very easy to change the weight of the dumbbell between exercises, and the stand typically doubles as storage for the additional weights not being used for a particular exercise.


The forerunner of the dumbbell, halteres, were used in ancient Greece as lifting weights and also as weights in the ancient Greek version of the long jump. A kind of dumbbell was also used in India for more than a millennium, shaped like a club – so it was named Indian club. Despite their common English name implying an Indian origin, the so-called Indian clubs were in fact created in the Near East. Properly referred to as meels, they are first recorded as being used by wrestlers in ancient Persia, Egypt and the Middle East.[citation needed] The practice has continued to the present day, notably in the Varzesh-e Bastan tradition practiced in the zurkaneh of Iran. From Persia, the Mughals brought the meels to South Asia where are still used by pehlwan (wrestlers). British colonists first came across Persian meels in India, and erroneously referred to them as "Indian clubs" despite their Middle Eastern origin. The design of the "Nal", as the equipment was referred to, can be seen as a halfway point between a barbell and a dumbbell. It was generally used in pairs, in workouts by wrestlers, bodybuilders, sports players, and others wishing to increase strength and muscle size.


"Dumbbells" as a word originated in late Stuart England. It referred to equipment used to simulate the action of pulling a bell rope. Designed to develop technique, and especially strength, to practise English bellringing (see Change Ringing), dumbbells made no noise, and were hence "dumb". When strongmen started to make their own equipment, they kept the name, even though the shape and form changed.