Starting a new workout can feel equally exciting and intimidating. Especially if you're navigating the ins and outs of buying all the equipment you need, the list of things to know can feel overwhelming fast. When you're new to lifting weights, you've got quite a few items that you'll need on your shopping list—which is why we've created the ultimate guide to weights for beginners. First, for a solid foundation you'll need the right shoes for weightlifting (it just so happens that Converse are a solid choice, according to podiatrists). Next, you'll need a solid set of weights—so where do you start?
When you're lifting weights at home, you'll want to start with a set of weights that are the right range for your strength level, and ideally give you room to grow via adjustable weights or a set of heavier weights. "If you’re not looking to invest a ton right away, aim to purchase three pairs of dumbbells: a light, medium, and heavy set that can be utilized for full body exercises, then build from there," says Emily Knuth, CPT and trainer at Dogpound Los Angeles.
To simplify the search, I've tapped two trainers for everything you need to know about buying your first set of weights.
The best weights for beginners
“I use these at home and really like the grip, but also that the heads are coated to reduce noise/banging around,” says Knuth about the CAP Barbell Hex Dumbbell Weight set that includes five sets of weights (you get 5,10, 15, 20, and 25-pound pairs). Knuth says if you’re willing to shell out the $300 for the set, it’s worth it since you have a good weight range to work with as you build up your strength and gradually increase weight.
For a little over $100, this Amazon Basics Weight set is also a solid choice for beginners. You get a set of 4, 10, and 15-pound weights to work with, which Knuth says, “is a great starting point for beginners to use for upper and lower body exercises. This also comes with a stand for storage, plus the rubber coating means they won’t clank around and make noise when you move them.”
If you don’t have a ton of space to store multiple sets of weights, an adjustable dumbbell can give you the same weight range options, but all in one space-saving dumbbell set. The Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells are a bit of an investment, but if you’re looking to save space and have a lot of weight options, it’s worth it. “They range from 5-52.5 lbs, but also increase incrementally by 2.5lbs up to the first 25lbs, which is great for beginners,” says Knuth.
For adjustable dumbbells that come at a price that’s a bit easier on the wallet than the Bowflex, you can opt for these Northdeer adjustable dumbbells. “These are also cool because they’re adjustable so you’re able to hit those incremental weights, in addition to the standard 5, 10, 15 [weight increase]. Plus the handles are foam for a nice grip,” says Knuth. For this set, you choose a weight range between 10-30 pounds and each dumbbell set can be adjusted to four different weights.
When you’re new to weight lifting, something you definitely don’t want to do is start too heavy, but you also don’t want to start too light. That’s why Korey Rowe, CPT at Dogpound New York recommends this adjustable kettlebell from Bowflex so you can adjust it and adapt it to your different workouts. One of the great features on the Bowflex Adjustable Kettlebell is that you adjust the weight up or down by turning a dial on top of the weight, which is way more convenient than manually changing out weights or plates, like some other products out there.
Another adjustable dumbbell option from Ativafit is great for beginners since it comes with four different weight options. You adjust the weight plates while placing the dumbbell in a tray that’s included. One rave Amazon reviewer noted that these were the best weights they tried out of four different sets they’ve owned, and said that the handles were cushioned and comfortable.
If you’re on the fence about which weight range to select, Rowe recommends getting a set that’s manageable at your current level but also, “choose weights that fit the profile of your aspirational strength level in the next 6- 8 months, so you have room to grow,” he says. That’s what’s great about this set is that you get three different weights to work with, giving you plenty of variety and room to work your way up to the heavier kettlebell.
If you’re not ready to invest major dollars into the Bowflex Adjustable Kettlebell, this one from Amazon is similar and only $50. You can adjust the kettlebell to four different weights (5-12 pounds) making it a good option for beginners. The Bowflex Kettlebell does go up to 40 pounds, so if you’re looking for a heavier weight range, this may not be your pick.
If you’ve yet to try slamming around a medicine ball in the name of fitness, let me be the first to suggest you try it. It’s surprisingly fun and challenging–not to mention that there’s a million different ways to add a medicine ball into your workout. This one from BalanceFrom comes in several different weights, making it good for beginners. Tip: don’t start too heavy. Find a weight you can comfortably pick up and throw around since, well, that’s the workout!
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