T Nation


Currently my home gym only has dumbbells ranging from 5-20lbs. This is a problem because next week i’ll be starting the westside for skinny bastards program and it calls for the use of dumbbells in exercises like incline dumbbell bench and so on. Well I wouldn’t get much of a workout with 20lb dumbbells right?

Right now i’m able to bench 185 1RM using a bar. So what kind of dumbbells, poundage-wise, should i go out and buy this weekend?


I would probably think about buying some db handles that you can then slide plates onto, this way you wont have to spend a lot of money buying different poundages.

Altough it can vary greatly from lifter to lifter, most people I know can dumbell bench 80%-90% of their barbell weight.

Example: You have a 1RM of 185, 80 per cent of that is 150(148), which is two 75 lb dumbbells.

But in all reality, you will just have to experiment to find out what weights you use.


Would it still be cheaper even though i’ve already spent about $60 on the dumbells i have currently?

Definitely get some dumbbell handles and some plates or some Powerblocks. 20 lb dumbbells will be way to lite for you for most drills.

Mike Mahler


I am thinking that a pair of 60’s, or 65’s would be plenty heavy enough at the level you are currently at.

Where ever you go to buy them see if you can find a Bench and give it a go before you make the purchase. (Warm up first).

Yep. Im limited for space at home and have cut back to the bare bones and Im just using adjustable dumbells. So versatile. I would follow Snippdogs idea.

It depends on your financial situaton but if you can afford Powerblocks, they have been great at my home gym. I need to get the extension kit to make them go up to 125 but I can’t justify spending another 400 dollars.


Do you find them at all awkward? I have been curious about those for a while.


They took some getting used to at first but it’s not real akward. I haven’t attempted anything like dumbell snatches yet. I daon’t know if the foam rubber handles will hold up to well under that kind of pressure/torque. I mainly use them for presses and hammer curls and they are great, take up no space at all, and change quickly for more or less weight. A good investment in my book.

I would think that adjustable bells would be cheaper than buying set poundages. You already have plates so you just need handles. Then as you outgrow your plate set and buy new plates your knocking out two birds at once; more db weight and more bb weight!

Wek, the bottom line is that you need adjustable DB’s of one kind or another. At your strength level, you should expect to see impressive gains quickly, and static weight DB’s would just be something you would regret having bought later on. When I was at your level, I think I used DB’s ranging from 40-70lbs all in the same workout, just so I could complete full sets on each of the lifts., and also max out a few times. Now I start at 60’s to warm up, and can handle the 100lb DB’s that are the max at my gym, so I still use a wide range of weight during a DB-only chest workout.

It’s worth the investment, dude! About $30 (try e-Bay for better prices) is the average for DB handles, and add some extra money for good collars. Then just buy the plates as you need them, and they’ll never go to waste! Throw in a barbell when you can afford it, and you can use the same plates for that, too.

If you have Olympic plates you can get some Olympic handles. Mine were only about $12 apiece at a sporting goods store. A little awkward for some exercises, but you can load the hell out of them. That’s 90 pounds on the one handle (handle weighs 10) and you can see there’s tons of space left. You won’t outgrow them soon.

Good idea, Chris!

nice picture chris.
I have these at my parents house. I use to use them when i was in high school. They are handy.