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Dumbbell-Only Home Gym vs More Equipment

So I started lockdown with body weight only exercises and now have:

1 flat bench
1 pull up bar, 2 x
5-20kg adjustable DBs
A pair of 30kg dumbbells
Some bands

While this has done me well, it’s a bit limiting. With work/ kids etc I’m not going to have to time to get back in the gym (I work out before my gym used to open in the morning), so I was thinking of adding some things although I don’t really have a lot of space so I only can get stuff I can easily fold away.

I was going to get a pair of 25kg dumbbells and a pair of 40kg dumbbells. I don’t use barbells because of injuries and muscle imbalances.

So was wondering form those who have started buying more and more kit at home, is it smart to keep buying more dumbbells etc rather than something else.

Hopefully I’m not going to end up buying a load of stuff and then still feeling like I don’t have enough or continually want bigger weights.

Thanks for any opinions.

If you want to train with dumbbells then go for it. Personally, I’d balk at the cost and the space issue but it’s your cash and your home gym (powerblocks look like a decent compromise)

Adjustable dbs are way cheaper in the long-run (especially oly dbs) than buying a whole load of fixed dbs.

My advice, mostly would be to get stupidly good at bw exercises for your upper body and for your lower body well…that is a bit trickier (especially if your legs are really strong), if you have injuries and can’t use barbells their are ways around that…just depends what kind of injuries you have really. Lunges, steps-ups, sleg drags etc are all good options in my experience if you have minimal equipment for training legs or if you have knee issues, I find I can do plenty of sled dragging or partial range squats or assisted one-legged squats etc with little to no discomfort.

Just depends what your limitations are really.

DBs can work. Fixed DBs will blow a sizeable hole in your bank account. Cost efficiency wise adjustable is the way to go. Maybe invest in a good pair of oly handles when they come in stock and buy thin 5kg plates, even straight steel ones like powerlifting disks if you know what they are. Should get u up to a decent weight like 60kg each. I think using thin powerlifting plate 5s might get closer to 80-90kg. If you can do split squats with 180kg total you’ll be pretty fookin big and strong.

Thanks all so far.

I’ve got adjustable DBs for 0-20kg but I couldn’t find any for the higher weights without it spending a load of money.

I’ve found a steel place near me that makes dumbbells quite cheaply (pair of 30kg ones were only £110) and are better than most I’ve seen online.

I hadn’t thought about the Olympic handles on DBs, thank you I’ll price them up.

The reason for not using barbells was my old rugby injuries. Fractured hip, crushed disk in back, torn rotator cuff etc. I’ve had major strength imbalances each side that improve if I use DBs and get worse with barbells. I’d love to just get a rack but in reality my body just doesn’t like it.

I like doing pre exhausting holds before my leg exercises so I don’t have to use that much weight for lunges etc that way.

Cheers a for the advice so far.

EDIT: Just looked at some Olympic dumbells and some plates…way cheaper. Thanks for the suggestion.

Yeah with bodyweight stuff and dbs you can cover a lot of ground. Space and injury can definitely make things tough too, but the thing i would be most concerned with with that set up is leg training. I dont know what your injuries do and dont allow you to do, but i have found those sissy squat things for pretty good prices in the past. They dont take up that much room i dont think either. Another one that i thought of for myself was a vertical leg press…i found a plate loadable one for 4 or 500, plenty strong and well built but didnt take up much room…but we didnt have the money for it when i found it. But aside from that you can definitely get good at single leg stuff, goblet squats, nordic ham curls if you can rig something up and so on and get some awesome leg workouts from that

Anyone got any suggestions on brands for the Olympic dumbbells by the way?

These are on my wish list


They have them back in stock yet?

Nah, expected ship date is January 3rd

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Legs shouldn’t be that much of a problem.

-You have bulgarian split squats which you can pretty much load up as heavy as you can handle and have weight for.
-Kettelbell swings, but use the dumbbell. Be sure you have really secure clips or double/triple up on them. You can find a way to rig up a band too.
-Sissy Squats
-band leg curls and leg extensions
-natural ghr negatives and also just bent knee back extensions
-skater squats, pistol squats if ur super mobile
-lunges of all kinds
-goblet squats for me become more about getting the bell in position and upper back strength, i don’t love them, but I find unilateral work in that position helps with those short comings
-steps ups
-db romanian RDLs
-1 arm db snatches, these are fun
-gliding leg curls

There’s more, but that’s just off the top of my head.

The most limiting thing about bodyweight/db’s is that ur not going to be doing things like heavy singles/doubles/triples or clusters or anything like that but you can still cover almost all your athletic/muscular bases and you can still hit that ~8RM zone which will still bring plenty of strength gains.

Here’s a couple of ideas I just love for horizontal pressing. I actually have the equipment and weight to bench press, but do this instead because of how hard I push these without fucking with my shoulders:

Standing Press has been messing with me and I don’t have an incline bench to set up to a high incline so I do pike push ups and arnold presses now. Right now, feet on a bench pike push ups are kicking my but, but I’ve played around with the 2x4 idea with pike push ups too and it will work. I use push up handles and a hole I dug in the backyard for full ROM.

I’m just bring up the 2x4 option because it’s a cheap way to really load up your horizontal press. I’ve gone as heavy as tough triples. I wouldn’t go heavier because compensation patterns occur when your upper body isn’t strong enough like sagging hips and not properly engaging the serratus (scapular protraction) so as far as loading and progression I think of it like a barbell row.

By the way, I much prefer a 2x6, it’s more stable on the hips and gives your toes or feet more wiggle room.

Cheers everyone, I found some newish mirrafit ones second hand for £40 which is a bargain.

Quick question for people that use them, are they usable with 10kg plates on or are they too big?

Was thinking about getting 8 10kg plates for heavier weights rather than 5kg plates.

Depends, I guess. I hated larger plates for things like dumbbell press or even rows, because they got in the way and limited my ROM. On the other hand, for something like lunges or BSS or what-have-you, it didn’t matter at all.