Outsmarting The Dumbbell                                                                                                                                                                                       

Any coach who has spent a great deal of time in a weight room understands even with spotters, lifting heavy dumbbells can become precarious.  The dumbbell is a great tool and getting the most out of the bells' is the coach's job.

Doug Scott is the Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Pingry School in Martinsville, New Jersey.   His training is thought out and purposeful.  Doug explains how to outsmart the dumbbell.

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The dumbbell bench press is a very good exercise to strengthen a player’s upper body. After observing countless athletes perform this exercise, it became apparent that for many of our students as their strength increased their ability to control the heavier dumbbells safely seemed suspect while they were pressing.  Since the dumbbells in most facilities increase by five pounds per bell it makes the increase too great for many seasoned athletes using the traditional progression schemes.

This is a modification I chose to make on the double progression model where the athlete increases the weight once he or she reaches the top of the repetition range.  The student athlete chooses a weight that can be performed for 12-15 repetitions with good technique.  Once the athlete reaches 15 reps instead of adding weight we ask them to add reps.  Each subsequent workout they are instructed to try to get “one more rep”, keep accurate records and keep getting “one more rep” every training session.

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Once the athlete can no longer increase the repetitions they move to the next heavier dumbbell on the rack and start the process all over.  You will find in some cases players may double their reps from the high end of the range moving from the beginning 12 reps all the way to 30 without ever having an off day.


Training is simple: Stimulate the muscles through exercise, allow time to adapt and stimulate them again (another workout)…This unconventional progression scheme does just that.  There are many ways to use dumbbells and this is a great one to Get Strong!