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Before you start strength training, you need to realise what it can do for you. Firstly it’s not for men only, women can get so much benefit from strength training. Who doesn’t want to lose weight, build muscle and look more toned! The results you get depends on how much you lift and how you do it.

The best place to start with strength training is to do bodyweight training only. This means no dumbells or weights of any kind. Your are lifting only your bodyweight and it’s harder than it sounds.

Think squats, pushups, lunges and pull ups. Exercises you can do almost anywhere without the need for the gym. However, as you progress, you’re going to want to make things more difficult and that’s where weight training comes in.

Perfected a nice, low body weight squat? Add some weight either with dumbells or a barbell.

A set of adjustable dumbells will make it easier for you to progress your workouts as you can add a small amount of weight each time you workout. They’re also more practical because it’s much easier to drop a dumbell and not cause damage to your floor than it is to drop a barbell when you can’t finish a rep.

Another good thing about dumbells is the fact that your work different sides of your body separately. This is important when it comes to building equal strength. When you use a barbell, one side of the body can compensate for the other.

There’s also an element of balance that comes into it too. Waving dumbells around instantly engages your core and this is true of most exercises you do with them. These stabilising muscles are so important and they’ll strengthen without you even needing to think about them.

In terms of how effective different weight training is you should work in this order from least effective to most effective (i.e. works more muscle groups and makes an exercise harder).

  • Basic weight machines

  • Cable machines

  • Barbells

  • Dumbells

The only thing barbells have over dumbells is the ability to add a lot of weight, which is important when you’re doing big moves like a squat or deadlift.

If you want to make your bodyweight training more effective and don’t want to add weight then you should thing about adding instability. For example, one-legged squats (or the infamous pistol squat!).

Are you lifting weights?