This is one of those questions that clients always ask, and the response isn’t as easy as just throwing out a number and saying “go for it!”
When someone is new to exercise, my answer to what dumbbell they need to grab is typically, lets go light, we can always add weight if it is too easy. I’m one to err on the side of caution, especially with new people. The reason is if I try to guess a heavier weight for them and overestimate the amount, they could get injured and be set back in their fitness goals. As I said, you can always add weight, however it might be too late if you guess too high.
For those who have been working out for a while, some trainers try to go with the mantra of bench pressing your body weight. Even with those who are veterans of the gym, putting a simple number to that isn’t responsible. Everyone has different goals and, more importantly, we all have different strength capacities. I tend to stress more that we need to challenge our muscles with the weight. This is going to be different with almost everyone. Two men, same age and weight most likely will have a different amount of weight that challenges them. By challenging I mean you should feel your muscle working by that 10-12 repetition. Typically, if you get to the 20 rep mark and can still keep going, the weight is most likely too light for you. To get stronger we do need to push it with heavier weights. Again, err on the side of caution and go up in small increments. You can’t rush strength, it takes consistency!
Until next time…