Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What’s the best adjustable dumbbell set to buy?

One of the most useful items that we purchased for the dungeon was an adjustable dumbbell set.  This is definitely one of those scenarios when you could learn from our experiences and save some money.  I didn’t start out researching for the absolute best adjustable dumbbells on the market, in fact, I skimped in this area and ended up paying for it in the long run.  Here is an overview of my experiences with adjustable weight dumbbells and what to look for when purchasing.

Who needs adjustable dumbbells?

After purchasing our Rogue SML-1 rack and bench set along with a texas power bar and 700+lbs of weight I thought our home gym was basically complete.  I knew that we would need to do some dumbbell movements as accessory work but I didn’t really place enough importance on the type of dumbbells necessary for our home gym.  I figured that with all of the olympic plates we just bought a simple set of Olympic dumbbell handles would be all that we needed.  If we wanted to do any dumbbell work they would be there and it would be simple to set up and use.  Boy was I wrong.

In theory, this should have worked really well but theories almost never work really well in my experience.  This held up to be completely true.  I should have done a bit more shopping around and pricing when looking at dumbbells because I ended up purchasing two sets… One that we actually use and one that just takes up space.

Do I need dumbbells?

I will say this, you could have a very good home gym and train pretty effectively and efficiently with a good set of dumbbells and an adjustable weight bench.  As powerlifters, my first concern was a power rack and a decent bench so that we could practice the competitive lifts.  If we couldn’t take care of those needs first then having a home gym wouldn’t have even been an option in my opinion.  If you look around on the site you will see that we did a pretty good job setting up our home gym with those pieces of equipment.  I greatly underestimated how important dumbbells would be to our accessory work and pushing up our bench press training.  If you are asking if you need dumbbells, I will firmly say that yes you do.  Can you train without them? Absolutely.  We did for months.  However, once we purchased a good set of dumbbells, I can’t even understand how I neglected such an important piece of equipment.

Olympic Dumbbell Handles vs. Adjustable Weight Dumbbells

Here’s the deal, I am not going to go over any cheesy reviews of all the popular adjustable dumbbells on the market.  Why? I only have used one set, therefore I can only review something that I have experience with.  This article will focus solely on the reasons why you should be getting a set of adjustable dumbbells compared to dumbbell handles.

Saving Money? Think again

I thought I was saving money by purchasing dumbbell handles to go with all of our plates, but if you take a look at all the purchases that I had to make you can see that it wasn’t really that cost effective either.  Here is the break down of what I purchased as well as my experiences:

  • Purchase Olympic Handles
So for basically $50.00 dollars, I thought that I had solved my home gym dumbbell issue. WRONG! Here is what I discovered (disclaimer: These could be perfect for you, I have no complaints on construction etc….this is just my experience)
    • The collars are a pain to get tight.  I used a small pipe as leverage to really torque the collars down to the point that I felt safe using them.  Regardless of what I did, the question of whether or not my teeth would be rearranged by a plate falling off was something I couldn’t escape.  I bought new collars to solve this and my “price” on my dumbbell solution just increased by 19.99…
    • I underestimated the number of small plates that I would need to buy to make the right adjustments for each exercise.  I only had two 10’s, two 5’s, two 2.5’s and two 25’s….You need at least DOUBLE that if you want to be able to go above 50lbs on exercises.  Looks like I need to buy more plates
    • I realize that I hate using these things.  When my girlfriend trains with me I STILL don’t have enough plates for her to do barbell exercises while I use the dumbbells.  This is a problem as I am not buying any more small plates, I refuse to.  What’s worse, any exercise that requires you to warm up with lighter weights (AKA ALL OF THEM) means you are constantly taking off weird increments of plates and changing.  In short….THIS SUCKS
    • We completely stopped using dumbbells altogether without really voicing our reasoning.  Neither of us wants to admit that this was just a poor purchase.
    • Months go by and then I finally say “we need to do more dumbbell work”.  Girlfriend agrees.  Days later we find a set of powerblock dumbbells (all the way up to 90lbs!) for 300.00 cash.  I purchase them and we live happily ever after.

My solution and advice

I was already out 178.99 for a set of dumbbells that essentially didn’t work for me.  I didn’t realize how much everything ended up costing until it was all said and done.  I felt pretty foolish at this point and I can see how this can happen to anyone.  Take a look at your budget and see if you can afford to sink the money in for a set of adjustable dumbbells.  The ones that you see pictured are the power block dumbbells.  We got a super deal off of craigslist for these (300.00) and they are actually the upgraded set that goes from 5-90lbs.

Some of the paint is chipped on this set and the actual weight amounts are rubbed off so we don’t know how much each set really weighs.  Instead of saying “25lbs” we just call those the “whites”.  As long as you keep track of what you do it really doesn’t matter what they weigh.  Simple as that.

Realistically, this set of Powerblock dumbbells cost me close to 500.00 which is right around where they would’ve cost had I bought the set new (not including the 90lb upgrade).  If you are thinking about getting a set of adjustable dumbbells like ours then I would scout out craigslist first.  You will be able to get a discounted rate and not have to pay shipping.  If this isn’t an option for you then your next stop will probably be amazon.  There are numerous styles of dumbbells that can be purchased online so it really comes down to

  1. Your budget
  2. How much weight you need

Find the set that works with your price range and provides enough weight to challenge your flat dumbbell bench press (strongest mechanical advantage) and you will be good to go.

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Getting Stronger With The PUSH Band 2.0

How Real Time Bar Speed Can Influence Your Training

I recently received an email from train with push asking for feedback on how we liked the product so far.  One of my main suggestions was to allow real time data when using the PUSH band so that the lifter is allowed instantaneous feedback during a set.  I didn’t realize that PUSH was working on a BETA version that utilizes real time data as you train.  I feel this is probably the ultimate form of feedback and something that we will be using a lot moving forward.  How will you adjust training based on live bar speed data you ask?  Let’s find out.

Are you REALLY being explosive and fast?

We always pay attention to bar speed while training and have been doing so for a while.  Our only form of feedback prior to purchasing the PUSH band was video analysis and how things “felt”.  Moving sub maximal weights as fast as possible (compensatory acceleration training) has long been something that I have viewed as important and there is plenty of information to back that up.

Sam Byrd is a big advocate of CAT training with a 5×5 rep scheme.  He likes to train with around 60% of his max with a focus on decreasing rest periods as well as becoming more explosive.  Check out his training articles here



When doing a 5×5 squat workout, the focus is always on moving that last rep as fast as the first.  Once you get tired, it is extremely easy to slack off and not be as explosive as possible.  The first workout that I utilized the real time data a lightbulb went off.  I was doing a 5×5 raw squat workout with a fairly light percentage of weight, with the goal of trying to make the bar move as fast as possible.  I set up my iPhone directly in front of me at eye level so that I could see my data after each rep.  Immediately my mindset changed.  I now was focusing a lot harder to beat my bar speed from my previous rep and rather than simply “trying to be fast”,  I was getting immediate feedback as to whether or not I was doing so.  Believe it or not, I achieved my highest velocity of the session on the last rep of the last set.

Point: When training with sub maximal weights it is easy to slack off when fatigue sets in, the weight is light enough that you can coast through a set.  The Push Band keeps you focused and is brutally honest about your efforts.


I understand that it is easy to become a slave to bar speed.  It is just ONE way to measure progress, with another way being rep PR’s.  Sooner or later, you need to struggle against some weight, especially if you are a competitive powerlifter.  There are two ways to go about struggling against weight, max effort singles or AMAP sets (As Many As Possible).  The problem with AMAP sets is when to shut the work set down.  Is getting that rep PR the most important thing, or is maintaining good form throughout the set?  Regardless, when you get into that land of uncharted territory doing more reps than you ever with a given weight, it’s realistic to say that your form probably isn’t going to be pretty on those last few reps.

Example: I recently was training my squat with knee wraps and AMAP sets.  Taking a set to near failure with knee wraps can be tough, especially if you are hitting 8-10 reps.  Everyone is different, but I know that personally if I keep training AMAP sets till failure I start to break down after a few weeks.  It can be difficult to keep hitting rep PR’s week after week when those last few reps are complete grinders.  What I have learned is that it is far better to be selective with the day’s that you really get after it and go all out vs. the days that you leave a bit in the tank and live to fight another day.

Squatting while alone brings some added pressure into those sets, you start to question “Do I have one more rep in me?” and then “I’m not sure, what if I can’t make it”.  In my opinion, this is the LAST thing you want to be thinking while doing those sets.  Any time that I had those thoughts I would usually shut it down because I didn’t want anything negative racing through my mind or take my focus elsewhere.

What I found after the set was finished and I reviewed my data was that I usually had one or two more reps left in the tank.  On a set of 8-10 squats the bar speed will decrease significantly from the first to the last rep.  It becomes hard to tell when you are actually grinding reps vs just fatigued and slowing down especially when your lungs are on fire and you are struggling to hold your air.

Point: Had I used the real time data while doing these sets I would know instantly based on the speed of the previous rep whether or not to stop the set or to keep going.  Using the PUSH band and real time data can help you to make smart decisions while training and literally know when to “push” and when to shut it down.

Form Adjustments On The Fly

Training partners are great, especially knowledgeable training partners that can analyze and give proper cues to help your form on the fly.  I’m not talking about the usual cues that everyone says “big breath, chest up” I am talking about things that actually will help you improve and make adjustments.

EXAMPLE: In the case of squatting, I tend to sit back too much at times as well as have the bar drift forward over my toes.  In each instance, a less than optimal rep is performed and the bar moves much slower than intended.  A training partner can witness this and then give specific cues, but what if you don’t have that luxury? I mean this IS homegymaddict.com and those of you that train at home can be assumed you sometimes train alone.  I know when things feel off, but seeing the bar speed after a rep that feels off confirms that something did indeed go wrong.  Likewise, if I groove a good squat, I get the positive reinforcement that I performed a good rep based on the speed.

I’ve always been a very kinesthetic person, relying on feel more than anything to improve in various sports.  Getting instant feedback after a good rep reminds me to try to recreate the same feeling for the next rep.  What does this mean? If I am focusing on dropping straight down in a squat while forcing my knees out then I get rewarded with what usually is higher velocity rep than if I do not execute those cues.  What you “feel” and what you actually do are two different things.  Some days, you just can’t seem to get comfortable at all.  This is when the push band can help you before the mental berating begins.  Even when feeling uncomfortable, if you are able to generate the right bar speed then you know that the training session was worthwhile and there is no need to panic and try to revamp your form.

The post Getting Stronger With The PUSH Band 2.0 appeared first on Home Gym Addict.

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What’s the best adjustable dumbbell set to buy? https://t.co/ScOf0d8WPY

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September 12, 2017 at 05:50PM

Getting Stronger With The PUSH Band 2.0 https://t.co/14Ys17UbQj

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September 12, 2017 at 05:50PM

How We Added 40lbs to Our Squat in 4 Months Using The PUSH Band https://t.co/wfTF9HaOZ1

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September 12, 2017 at 05:50PM

Adjustable Cap Barbell Deluxe Utility Bench Review https://t.co/IqBE5cz97U

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September 12, 2017 at 03:50PM

Best Weight Bench Buyer’s Guide https://t.co/767VJzsr3I

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September 12, 2017 at 03:50PM