What are the Different Types of Hand Weights?

B. Miller

Hand weights, also sometimes known as dumbbells or free weights, are a great way to strengthen upper body muscles. Most are designed with a narrower bar in the middle, and two discs at each end. This is so the hand weights will fit better in your hands. These smaller weights are good for building muscles as part of an exercise routine.

Hand weights help strengthen upper body muscles.
Hand weights help strengthen upper body muscles.

There are various types of weights, and you will need to choose the ones that are best for you and will fit most easily into your exercise routine. Dumbbells can be purchased in different weights, from relatively light to very heavy. The weights might be a fixed weight, where you will not be able to remove or add extra weight onto the dumbbell. Other weights allow you to add or remove extra discs of weight onto the ends of the bars -- these weights are more versatile if you want to use various weights for different exercises.

Hand weights can be used to tone the arms.
Hand weights can be used to tone the arms.

Small, soft hand weights with straps are sold and marketed as weights for walking. However, health professionals advise against using the weights while walking, because they have been shown to put undue pressure on ligaments and tendons, and increase blood pressure. A weighted vest or belt is better to use while walking, as long as you can maintain proper posture and walk at a quick enough pace to increase your heart rate.

Hand weights are often sold in sets, so you have various sizes and weights available for different exercises. If this matters to you, you can also find hand weights in different colors. The weights might be made of metal or rubber, and should have an anti-slip grip so you do not accidentally drop the weights, possibly causing injury. You might also purchase weight-lifting gloves to give yourself a better grip and protect your hands.

Be realistic when lifting weights, and work within your means. It is vitally important to maintain proper form and posture when lifting weights to prevent injury, and if you cannot do this, there is a good chance the weights are too heavy. Research weight lifting beforehand, and consult with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program. It might be a good idea to make an appointment with a personal trainer -- even if you can't afford weekly or monthly appointments, the trainer will be able to provide instruction on safe weight lifting and possibly give you a program tailored to your specific goals.

Hand weights are sold in sets and sizes geared to different types of exercise.
Hand weights are sold in sets and sizes geared to different types of exercise.

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Discussion Comments


@Subway11 -I used to use a hand weights set but, I always got really sore in the middle of my back. I was probably using the wrong form, but it sort of turned me off to using a dumbbell set.

I really am thinking of trying resistance bands in order to get a little more definition without the risk of injury. I am going to get a resistance band set that comes with a DVD so that I can learn how to use them.

The nice thing about the resistance bands is that you can travel with them because they don’t weigh that much.


@SurfNTurf -I like to go walking with my hand weights. I think that using hand weights for walking can actually make you burn more calories.

The first time I used the hand weights for exercise while walking, I was really sore but after a while I got used to it. Now I try to keep track of my time and always try to walk a little faster every week. It makes it more fun that way.


I prefer using a dumbbell set instead of wrist hand weights because they are more comfortable. I usually like to use a two pound set, a three pound set and a five pound set.

I usually do one set of repetitions with each set of dumbbells but I lower the amount of repetitions when I increase the weight. I like to do bicep curls, the buttery fly press, and triceps curls with my arms bent.

I also like to use the dumb bells when I do leg exercises like lunges. I think that they give you more definition than wrist hand weights.

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