Is this a good workout? Too much? Too little?

The above is what I did today with two 12kg dumbells. Is this a good workout to build muscle? What bugs me slightly is my arms don’t feel at all fatigued after that workout. I could probably do a lot more but some might call that overdoing it.

B’ye, it’s not how long or how hard ye work out once - it’s how often! Tell us how you feel in a couple of weeks, or a month. If you don’t feel it at all tomorrow, that’s a good thing. That ‘No pain, no gain’ crap is for macho boys who like to hurt themselves.

And good on ya! How’s the walking coming? I’m envious, as we don’t have anything near as scenic as the Isle of Man in downtown Toronto - even your tips are gorgeous. Happy trails!

tips? (not sure what you mean)
As for the walking… Going well. Though I’m waiting for some consistently good weather and late sunsets so that I can repeat the walk I did ONCE last year - the walk from Laxey (coast) to Snaefel (Highest point on the island) which took around 6 hours to complete (I had to walk home along tramlines in almost total darkness)
And I guess my OP should have been more along the lines of “Is this a good workout for a particular day (assume that I will do this roughly every other day)”
The grass is always greener on the other man’s lawn - I would LOVE to be in Toronto rather than here.

Is there a reason you aren’t doing push-ups? I’m not necessarily saying you need them, but they’re pretty standard arm exercising.

also, I’ve read studies and worked out on the principle that fewer reps with heavier weights can be more effective than lots of reps at lower weight levels. Perhaps you should be lifting slightly heavier…

Caveat: I am not a trainer! All I know is what I have personally done.

I’m not sure what you’re doing in number two, but it looks dirty and fun :slight_smile:

It’s a good upper body circuit routine, but remember, doing the same thing every day will eventually yield no returns. Feel free to mix things up frequently, do what feels best, do what feels fun.

Also, if you’re looking to build up your biceps, remember that they call them that because they have two heads. Hammer curls build up one head, and preachers do a better job of targeting the other one (although for the life of me I can’t remember which does which).

If I’m interpreting your drawings correctly, the first three are mainly working your biceps while the last is mainly for pectorals.

As long as your form is good, (no cheating) you should feel it after a few sessions. If you over-do during your first few workouts, it could discourage you to continue.
12 kg is probably an ok weight to start, but you’ll need to increase the weight after a while if you want to progress.

Be sure not to work the same muscle groups two days in a row. For example, work arms and chest one day, then legs and back the next. You can do abds every day, because you don’t use heavy weights for them. Abds are also more stubborn, harder to work properly (easier to cheat)


I meant dumps, nuisance grounds, waste lands, you know, where you put the trash… I haven’t been to the Isle of Man yet, but what my friend Douglas has shown me of it made me want to move there immediately.

I find urban hiking highly uninspiring, and while the Bruce Trail is only an hour’s drive away, driving 150 km round trip to hike for a bit is just not on my radar for a daily activity.

I think its important to decide what you are trying to achieve with your workout. If your main goal is to keep healthy and tone yourself, than the workout you posted seems fine. If, however, you’re interested in building more muscle mass, than thats not really the regimen that I would recommend.

If you want to build muscle, you should be doing fewer repetitions with heavier weights. The standard is usually 3 sets of 10 reps (or lots of 10, as youses across the pond apparently call it). You can also do 1 set of 10, 1 of 8, and 1 of 6, increasing the weight in between sets. If you’re specifically looking to build arm tone, the biceps exercises are good, as well as the military press (your second drawing, which I believe is what you are doing-- putting the weights at shoulder level and pressing them upwards). I’m not sure what’s going on in your third drawing, but I’m not sure I’ve ever done that exercise, unless you’re extending your arms to either side of your body. Another exercise I’d recommend is the bench press. It doesn’t primarily target your arms, but it does work your triceps.

Doing higher repetitions is good for toning muscle, but you won’t really build much new muscle without more weight. If you don’t have bigger dumbbells, it may be worth either investing or joining a gym. The general rule for sets is that you should be doing them at a weight where (with sets of 10) you might be able to do 11, or 12, but certainly not 13. And your arms probably won’t hurt that day (though they might be a little tired), but you should feel it the next day. In order for muscle to build you actually have to create tiny tears in your existing muscle, which then fill in with more muscle tissue. This is why you shouldn’t do the same workout 2 days in a row, and also why it hurts the next day.

DON’T FORGET TO WARM UP. You should start with enough cardio to break a sweat, and then for each exercise do 1 warmup set (at a lower weight). Then stretch the muscles that you’re going to use for that set.

Anyway, if you want some ideas for specific workouts, feel free to drop me a message. Have fun!

If you’ve never lifted before I recommend this workout. You’ll need a gym membership if you don’t have a squat rack though.

Starting Strength FAQ

The one where I lift the weights above my head (drawing labeled ‘3’) I can only do about ten or 12 of those so I guess they are doing the job. And funnily enough the muscles involved are the only sore ones after a day.

I already know not to do the same excercise two days in a row… I alternate weights with long walks.

I have about 2.5kg available to add to each dumbell (so increasing each one to 14.5kg) but I have another set at work with a fatter bar so If I add those weights the whole dumbell might be a bit wobbly.

edit: The third drawing (labeled ‘2’… sorry for my crappy rushed mspaint drawing) is hard to describe. - I am holding the dumbells at my side and then lifting them vertically… As if I’m trying to put them in my armpits.

I agree with BellRungBookShut-CandleSnuffed, to build muscle you should be doing a lot of short heavy sets.

If you’re a beginner, 12 K is actually a reasonable weight for some of the exercises in your drawing - so if you’re not getting any aches, maybe you’re swinging the weights. Try making the movements slower and more controlled (no ‘bounce’). Exercise 1 for example, your back and shoulders shouldn’t be moving at all, and your elbows should be more or less static with just your forearms moving up and down. At the bottom of the movement your arms should be almost fully extended towards the ground.

Exercise 2, you could try lifting the weights away from your body - this should up the jeopardy big time - the further they are from your body, the harder your shoulders work. The hardest being a ‘crucifixion’ position. Some people perform this exercise by lifting the weights straight arm in front of their chest (like pointing a pistol) - I personally get some lower back strain when I do that.

You could also add dumbbell pullovers to your routine - a quick google gives a bunch of good illustrations. It’s easier to do these with a single bigger dumbbell than two light ones though.

Also - the bathtub exercise - are you really doing 4*20 with your full body weight and your legs extended in an L shape ? The only thing touching any surfaces at any point in the movement should be your hands. Oh yeah - and make sure all your movements are well controlled and balanced - asymmetrical movements can lead to some nasty joint pain !

Sorry if I sound like a mother hen - my real recommendation would be to join a gym !

That’s a great link! I’ve bookmarked that as an excellent (if slightly long) intro for people who ask me about weight lifting and fitness. Saves me doing all the typing.

Something to note; the links are often pointing to video of power lifters and strongmen. They’re usually not interested in general fitness, only in how much they can lift. The guy who posted the primer provided the links as an illustration of proper technique and lifting form, not as a way of showing what you’ll look like after doing the program he outlines. Given that Rippetoe, the author of Starting Strength, is one of the people involved in creating and refining Crossfit, the people you see there are more likely to be your ideal examples.

Those extreme lifters are a good illustration of the lack of need for equipment like straps, as even guys who were doing dead lifts of close to 1000 lbs. don’t seem to have problems with their grip, and often don’t use lifting belts either. Like the author of that thread, I think that gloves, straps, and belts are detrimental, especially for beginners. “Protective” equipment can often support bad habits that can really mess you up if you start trying to lift heavy, or even just create small screw-ups in form that lead to many small injuries that later add up to some nastier failure.

It’s better to start with good form, and build up your grip and supporting musculature. If you can’t hang onto it, and can’t maintain good form under the strain, maybe you shouldn’t be lifting that much weight. Besides, it’s kind of dumb to use artificial aids that allow you to overload one part of your anatomy to potentially dangerous levels. If you need an aid to perform the exercise, you probably are lifting too heavy or lifting wrong. The only exceptions might be if you need a support due to a previous injury, and lifting is part of your rehab.

Injurious failures in power lifting, where the use of aids is relatively common, are not rare. Those guys know that they’re taking risks with their bodies, and they’re willing to do so in order to compete at high levels. Recreational lifters don’t need to take those risks, though.

I always recommend ball squats over regular squats. They’re safer, and you can target specific muscles much more easily, since you can focus on shifting your balance to allow you to put more weight on, say, your heel (for more tension on the butt).

How long does the entire routine take?

I’d recommend going online and finding some sort of workout that will take you 45+ minutes. Add some core stuff in (sit-ups, push-ups, etc.). There are lots of different dumbbell exercises you can do that you don’t have. . .things for your triceps (that I won’t even try to describe), wrist curls. You can lay on your back (a bench preferably, but not necessarily) and do presses.

Those things you do in the empty bath…do you go all the way down until your elbow makes a 90º angle? If so, that’s a lot of “dips”. If you’re doing 80 of them, I’m guessing you’re not going all the way down.

According to this article, you should be a bit sore for 48 hours after the first 2 times you do a new routine.

Also, you should do each execise until exhaustion. If after 2 sets, you still feel like you could do some more, you need heavier weights.

You should atleast use pushups for your warm up. Reverse pushups are great for your triceps too.

I added about 2.5kg to each dumbell, and after about 8 or 9 reps my right (weaker) arm was at that NNNGGGGGG! stage (i.e. really difficult to complete the move)

Also after the third set of ten reps I couldn’t lift the weight with my weaker arm. That’s good I assume.

I don’t want to do more with my good arm than with my bad arm. Don’t want to look like a mutant with one huge arm and one weedy arm.

The best site I found when I began lifting weights is . It’s an amazing site worth the time to click through links. They have everything form suggested workout routines, to animated illustrations of doing to workouts properly, to what muscles that exercise works.

Great site! Lots of information. I shall spend some time on it. Thanks for the link.