You simply train with whatever weight you want, as long as you feel your workout good and you are well trained. What does it mean? There is no point in working out with 1-2 kg dumbbells because they are so light that you have to exercise for a longer period to actually feel the workout and get results. Mainly I use dumbbells in my workouts for the back, thighs, booty, shoulders, and not so often specifically for arm exercises. Arms are small muscle groups, so they are not as strong as back, thighs, gluteus. That’s why, you indeed need to use lighter weights, but as I said, I don’t train arms that way. Here you can find some exercises to get super toned arms.
To test what’s the right weight for you you need to try work out with the dumbbells. Try doing 10-15 reps one arm row while you are in the store. After 10-15 reps, you have to feel your back muscles. So, that’s the right weight for you.
Try holding 2 dumbbells in one hand. It might seem uncomfortable at first, but after a few workouts you will be doing this even without thinking. That way you will have both a heavier (2 dumbbells) and a lighter (1 dumbbell) weight, but you buy just one set.
My experience shows me that 90% of women can work out with a minimum of 3 kg dumbbell per hand. That’s a good start. All the time women that have babies and little children, weighing more than 10 kg, carrying them all day write me and tell me they want to work out with a 1-2 kg dumbbells. We work out for short periods of time on a regular basis and to get maximum results, we use the right weights so we feel the workout and know we did a good job.
My advice is to start with 2 bottles of 1.5 l water (full) – you won’t feel that much the weight, but that indicates you need a larger weight. Afterwards, fill the bottles with sand and water – they get around 2.5 kg each. Or, try a 5 l water bottle which has a comfortable handle for rows (back exercises).
When you train a muscle and increase the weights, it’s natural for the muscle to grow. I know that a lot of women are worried about muscles. You simply can’t get a bigger back with 2 dumbbells 4 kg each. If you are worried you’ll get bigger thighs, then don’t use additional weights for your thigh exercises, even though I don’t think that’s a good strategy. Work out for a year like that and when you don’t get bigger thighs, you might feel comfortable adding some weights to your lower body exercises. I would like to add that women also gain muscles – not as much as men- but they do.
However, if you would like to get a ‘toned’ look, you will need to gain small, long muscles not ball-shaped ones. Stretching after working out helps with that and you get a bonus to the lean muscles – they relax!
In order not worry about gaining muscles, work for your back and gluteus with weights (do swing); do push ups for your chest and use your body weight for your thighs. I’m sure you will change your mind, when you get more experience 🙂