A man and a woman in fitness gear and with dumbbells.

5 ways you're lifting dumbbells wrong (and how to fix it!)

Published 15th November 2022
Share this post

It's easy to pick up an affordable set of dumbbells, load your motivational playlist and start curling those biceps, but are you sure you're getting the most out of your workout?

Whether it's waking up in agony the next morning or not seeing any gains, here are the top five mistakes every beginner makes with dumbbells... and how to avoid them!

A man in gym clothes struggling to lift a set of dumbbells.

You're struggling to finish each set

It's easy to be overambitious when lifting dumbbells, but it's a sure-fire way to kill your motivation (and potentially cause an injury)! You should be able to do around 10 reps in each set if you're using the right weight, with the last few being tough on your arms.

The solution: Switch to a lighter weight. If you're not sure what the right weight is, trying using adjustable dumbbells - just add or remove weight plates until you find that magic number.

Not too sure which is right for you? Check out our blog all about picking the right dumbbell weights for your workout goals!

A woman lifting dumbbells but in pain.

You're getting pain in your lower arms

If you're getting pain in your wrists or strains in your lower arm, it's probably because you're not keeping your wrists straight. It's easy to overlook, but most dumbbell exercises need straight wrists to support the weight.

The solution: Focus on keeping your wrists straight and you're still struggling, try switching to lighter dumbbells.

A woman lifting dumbbells with pain in her shoulders.

Strains in your shoulders and back

Lifting dumbbells uses more than just the muscles in your arms. A lot of arm exercises rely on your core, so if you're not engaging it properly, that might just be what's causing the pain in your upper body!

The solution: Before you start exercising, squeeze your stomach muscles. Feel it tighten? That's your core muscles engaging - and that's exactly what you're looking for! If you find your core muscles get exhausted before you've finished your sets, try some back exercises with dumbbells to strengthen them.

A man lifting dumbbells and unhappy about his progress.

Pumping iron but not seeing any results

It's easily done - you're in the zone, pumping iron, eager to finish the set. Who cares if you get a little jerky?... You should, if you want to hit your goals! Move too quickly and you're using momentum to power the lift, not your muscles.

The solution: Concentrate on nailing your form by slowly lifting and lowering the weights to engage your biceps and triceps. Continue training in this way as part of your normal routine, and you should soon be seeing results!

A man lifting weights that are too light.

You can do dozens of reps in each set

If you're finding it suspiciously easy to complete each set, it's probably not because you've eaten your spinach (if you know, you know...). It's more likely because the weights you're using are too light for you.

The solution: Just add more weight! The safest way to do this is slowly in increments of 0.5-1kg so you don't overdo it. Consider buying a varied set of dumbbells so you can keep on progressing, or get adjustable dumbbells and weight plates.

Now you know what not to do (and what to do instead!), it's time to get your fitness journey started! But before diving in, check out our guide on everything you need to know about dumbbells to find the perfect set for you! 

Delivery Address

Sign in to view all of your delivery addresses


Enter your delivery address


Wait! You've left
something behind...

You'll only get instant Cashback at OnBuy! Enter your email below and we'll send you a copy of your basket to save you time later.

No thanks, I'm alright for now

By entering your email address, you'll automatically be added to our database, where you can enjoy personalised Cashback offers and early access to our best deals. You can opt out of our emails at any time and we'll never share your details with anyone. Check our Privacy Policy and T&Cs to find out more.


Before you go...
Remember, you'll only get instant Cashback on everything at OnBuy!

Want access to personalised offers and the highest Cashback rates? Sign up to our emails below.

No thanks, I'm alright for now

You can opt out of our emails at any time and we'll never share your details with anyone. Check our Privacy Policy and T&Cs to find out more.

This page has expired.

Please refresh the page to continue shopping.

Refresh and continue