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  1. #1
    Registered User Rising_Phoenix's Avatar
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    Small weights and more reps vs heavier weights and less reps

    I am very, very new at this (actually, only 3 weeks lifting weights.) But I wonder if I am doing something wrong. Because the truth is that my muscles are not even slightly sore the day after I work out. And thus, I wonder if my exercise is being as optimal as it should.

    For example: Yesterday I did a couple sets of lat dumbbell raises, and I'm using 17.5 lb dumbbells. The first set went OK, but I could barely finish the second set (1 minute rest interval.) Still, today I don't feel anything. Would it be best to try to lift say 30 lb dumbbells, if only for 5 reps?
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    how many reps were you doing? and the whole no pain no gain thing is a myth. your looking to tear your muscles in a certain way to provide them a way to heal and grow to get your results.

    now what are your goals? it's good to let people know those too.
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  3. #3
    Director:Team Ground Zero grim83's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Rising_Phoenix View Post
    I am very, very new at this (actually, only 3 weeks lifting weights.) But I wonder if I am doing something wrong. Because the truth is that my muscles are not even slightly sore the day after I work out. And thus, I wonder if my exercise is being as optimal as it should.

    For example: Yesterday I did a couple sets of lat dumbbell raises, and I'm using 17.5 lb dumbbells. The first set went OK, but I could barely finish the second set (1 minute rest interval.) Still, today I don't feel anything. Would it be best to try to lift say 30 lb dumbbells, if only for 5 reps?
    form will play a big part, also soreness is a small indication of improvement, a better indication is do you look different in the mirror. soreness does not matter nearly as much as improvement. also how many reps do you get with the 17.5's. i would recommend keeping reps between 4-10 for most upper body exercises
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  4. #4
    Registered User JustinShak's Avatar
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    just saw your othe post gonna read into it more
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    Registered User Rising_Phoenix's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by JustinShak View Post
    how many reps were you doing? and the whole no pain no gain thing is a myth. your looking to tear your muscles in a certain way to provide them a way to heal and grow to get your results.

    now what are your goals? it's good to let people know those too.
    I've only been doing this for 3 weeks (been doing pushups and crunches for around 3 months though.) So the weights/reps might seem ridiculously low for you, but try not to laugh.

    For example, for the dumbbell lat raises I was using 17.5 dumbbells, and I just managed 2 sets of 10 reps (and the 2nd send specially was not in good shape for the last few reps.)

    About my goals: I don't want to be huge, but I want to build some size. I'm slightly slim (for example, my bi-acromial width is about 14''.) So I want to get some lean muscle to put on my frame. If I ended up built as the Hulk I wouldn't mind, but I'm realistic, so I'm trying to set realistic goals.

    What you say about no pain no gain is that I should not actually be sore the next day, not even a slight soreness? I used to get more sore in the beginning, I think my body is starting to get used to this crap.
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  6. #6
    Registered User Rising_Phoenix's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by JustinShak View Post
    just saw your othe post gonna read into it more
    Thanks, man. I forgot to point that post, good that you found it.
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  7. #7
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    Originally Posted by grim83 View Post
    form will play a big part, also soreness is a small indication of improvement, a better indication is do you look different in the mirror. soreness does not matter nearly as much as improvement. also how many reps do you get with the 17.5's. i would recommend keeping reps between 4-10 for most upper body exercises
    Thanks for your response. Actually, even though it's only been 3 weeks, I think I am noticing a slight difference in the mirror. Not huge size, but there is an ever slight difference in the proportions (maybe 1/10 of an inch less here, and 1/10 of an inch more some other place) which is promising. I'm actually quite surprised at the progress, although sometimes I wish I could even speed it up more. But then I realize this sort of thing takes time and effort.

    I was mistaken about the soreness then (which is good.) I am doing 10 reps minimum, which is what I did for the lat raises (for some other exercises I do more reps though, because I find them way easier.) So according to what you say, I should probably get heavier dumbbells and shoot for less reps and watch out for the form. I definitely need a different dumbbell set. The ones I have take only a maximum of 17.5 lbs, which is not enough. I'm looking into Power Block now.
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    Originally Posted by Rising_Phoenix View Post
    Thanks for your response. Actually, even though it's only been 3 weeks, I think I am noticing a slight difference in the mirror. Not huge size, but there is an ever slight difference in the proportions (maybe 1/10 of an inch less here, and 1/10 of an inch more some other place) which is promising. I'm actually quite surprised at the progress, although sometimes I wish I could even speed it up more. But then I realize this sort of thing takes time and effort.

    I was mistaken about the soreness then (which is good.) I am doing 10 reps minimum, which is what I did for the lat raises (for some other exercises I do more reps though, because I find them way easier.) So according to what you say, I should probably get heavier dumbbells and shoot for less reps and watch out for the form. I definitely need a different dumbbell set. The ones I have take only a maximum of 17.5 lbs, which is not enough. I'm looking into Power Block now.
    yeah, power blocks are good, but u can save some money and just go buy a pair of adjustables with more weight. also yes watch your form, but also remember text book form is good in the beginning, but if you feel it hits a muscle more to make a slight variation go for it. like with bb curls i let my elbows drift forward a little bit for a stronger contraction. and about the routine, if you wish you can pm it to me and i'll see where it can be improved. also remember diet is the biggest part
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  9. #9
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    This reminds me of when I first started way back when. If you are following a BB type routine and multiple sets of yours for each muscle are to failure then it is possible you are overtraining. I do not know how often you are hitting each muscle so this may not apply, or even if you are following a BB routine but if you hit them again too soon after the last workout you wont get sore anymore, only the first couple workouts.

    So if this does apply to you and I assume it does since you are looking to be sore, what I would do is take a week off, do your workout again with a weight that allows you to only get 6-10 reps, 2-5 sets, depending on your routine (basically if you have a decent routine stick to it) and then if you get sore after that workout do not workout again until your soreness is gone (or pretty much gone). You should continue to be sore after this. Personally I use my soreness to gauge when I'm ready for the next workout with that muscle and also to gauge how well my last workout went, although it is not only way to do it and of course the mirror is most important, it's hard to use the mirror because the differences aren't that great in short periods of time.
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  10. #10
    Registered User Rising_Phoenix's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by grim83 View Post
    yeah, power blocks are good, but u can save some money and just go buy a pair of adjustables with more weight. also yes watch your form, but also remember text book form is good in the beginning, but if you feel it hits a muscle more to make a slight variation go for it. like with bb curls i let my elbows drift forward a little bit for a stronger contraction. and about the routine, if you wish you can pm it to me and i'll see where it can be improved. also remember diet is the biggest part
    Thanks for the advice, I will keep it in mind. For now I'm content with making any progress at all and just keeping up with it, but in the future I will remember what you said about variation.

    You are completely right about the diet. I pretty much lived on fast food, pizza, and potato chips the past 12 years, and I'm actually surprised I didn't even get more out of shape. But I have noticed good changes since I changed my diet, and I'm sticking to it.
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  11. #11
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    I actually read your post about your routine and forgive me I only read the original post but anyway yeah, you are (were) hitting each muscle 3 days after the initial workout so yeah, that is too often when going to failure AND the weights you are using are way too light and you should buy dumbells, but you already know that. Personally I like the "spinlock" ones where the end is threaded and the little star holds the weights on because you can tip them sideways to do say hammer curls and they do not fall off!
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  12. #12
    Registered User Rising_Phoenix's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by OpenSight View Post
    I actually read your post about your routine and forgive me I only read the original post but anyway yeah, you are (were) hitting each muscle 3 days after the initial workout so yeah, that is too often when going to failure AND the weights you are using are way too light and you should buy dumbells, but you already know that. Personally I like the "spinlock" ones where the end is threaded and the little star holds the weights on because you can tip them sideways to do say hammer curls and they do not fall off!
    Thanks for your input. Yeah, I guess I should work out harder and less often. I am seeing some surprising gains after only 1 month in some areas (especially biceps) but I know my routine is not optimal and to actually make serious gains I need to change it.

    Actually I have spinlock dumbbells like you say. 4 5lb plates and 4 2.5lb plates to go along with them (which makes each dumbbell up to 17.5 lbs.) Way to light. I suppose I could just get additional plates, but I've been looking to replace these dumbbells because the handle is made of some sort of rubber that smells like hell (actually my hands will smell like it constantly now ) And yes, I just did some hammer curls last night for example. I'm going to look into different options though and get something more serious.
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  13. #13
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    Yeah, I may be wrong but I swear I used to have a friend who had the same ones with the rubber and I am almost certain that under the rubber is a regular metal handle if you just cut the rubber off. Mine are just metal knurled handles. I would peel back yours a little bit and see if t's a normal handle underneath, if it is I would just cut it off. You know to be honest doing 30 rep sets every 3 days isn't THAT bad as far as over-training goes but if you want better gains go for more like 10 rep sets every 4-5 days, 4 for small muscles, 5 for big ones or like I said listen to your soreness.

    The cheapest way to go will be to keep your dumbbells you have now and buy a standard barbell set. They usually come in 120lb and 150lbs sets. That way all the weights that come with the barbell you can use on your dumbbell handles. Like me when I do DB bench press or DB rows I'll load up the spin-lock DBs with 90-95lbs and it holds it no problem because I have two 25lb plates on each dumbbell, plus some "change". If I ever wanted to for some reason I could easily fit 4 25s on each handle. Well anyway good luck, any questions or anything don't hesitate to ask! Good luck, I know how it is to want to work out but start off with no equipment!
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    Originally Posted by OpenSight View Post
    Good luck, I know how it is to want to work out but start off with no equipment!
    dude been there done that. my original bench was an old cooler lol
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    Originally Posted by grim83 View Post
    dude been there done that. my original bench was an old cooler lol
    Hey whatever works right?
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    Originally Posted by OpenSight View Post
    Hey whatever works right?
    yup we all gotta start somewhere. i just wish i had researched more in the beginning bro
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    Thumbs up

    Originally Posted by OpenSight View Post
    Yeah, I may be wrong but I swear I used to have a friend who had the same ones with the rubber and I am almost certain that under the rubber is a regular metal handle if you just cut the rubber off. Mine are just metal knurled handles. I would peel back yours a little bit and see if t's a normal handle underneath, if it is I would just cut it off. You know to be honest doing 30 rep sets every 3 days isn't THAT bad as far as over-training goes but if you want better gains go for more like 10 rep sets every 4-5 days, 4 for small muscles, 5 for big ones or like I said listen to your soreness.

    The cheapest way to go will be to keep your dumbbells you have now and buy a standard barbell set. They usually come in 120lb and 150lbs sets. That way all the weights that come with the barbell you can use on your dumbbell handles. Like me when I do DB bench press or DB rows I'll load up the spin-lock DBs with 90-95lbs and it holds it no problem because I have two 25lb plates on each dumbbell, plus some "change". If I ever wanted to for some reason I could easily fit 4 25s on each handle. Well anyway good luck, any questions or anything don't hesitate to ask! Good luck, I know how it is to want to work out but start off with no equipment!
    Thanks man, appreciate all the info. I have to check on the DB handles, but I think that the rubber handle is actually one of the stops for the plates, so stripping it out might not work out. Realistically though, I am in this for the long term, so maybe within a couple months or so I'll get some better set (Power Blocks would be nice) when my cashflow is in better shape. For now though I got a resistance cable and a pull-up bar to add some variety.

    Dude, you say that you are doing DB rows with 90 lb dumbbells? How long did it take you to get to that point? That to me is unbelievable. I'm doing 2 sets of 15 DB rows with just 17.5 lb dumbbells and the last couple of reps are challenging.
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    Originally Posted by Rising_Phoenix View Post
    Dude, you say that you are doing DB rows with 90 lb dumbbells? How long did it take you to get to that point? That to me is unbelievable. I'm doing 2 sets of 15 DB rows with just 17.5 lb dumbbells and the last couple of reps are challenging.
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    Originally Posted by Rising_Phoenix View Post
    Thanks man, appreciate all the info. I have to check on the DB handles, but I think that the rubber handle is actually one of the stops for the plates, so stripping it out might not work out. Realistically though, I am in this for the long term, so maybe within a couple months or so I'll get some better set (Power Blocks would be nice) when my cashflow is in better shape. For now though I got a resistance cable and a pull-up bar to add some variety.

    Dude, you say that you are doing DB rows with 90 lb dumbbells? How long did it take you to get to that point? That to me is unbelievable. I'm doing 2 sets of 15 DB rows with just 17.5 lb dumbbells and the last couple of reps are challenging.
    hey bro its possible, i use 80's for about 6-8reps. and i've been doing this for three years. but remember strength is individual. but if you keep at it and focus on progressively getting stronger you'll get there and have alot to show for it. a good idea is to use a weight you can do for about reps and work on getting to 10 (clean reps not looking like your having a seizure) and when you hit 10 bump up the weight
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    Originally Posted by DuLac View Post
    If you are training seriously (and you never miss a day), you eat properly, get enough rest, and avoid injury, you could be there in ~18-24 months.
    That's very encouraging. My goals are not that high, but I'm a stubborn SOB, so who knows? I just want to reach my full potential (whatever that may be,) or at least get close to it.

    I can hopefully avoid the injuries. Back 5 years ago I remember going to the gym in my old apartments and doing a bunch of pulldown reps on my first day. My arms were so sore the next 3 or 4 days that I couldn't even put them straight (it felt like my tendons were getting ripped appart.) This time around though I'm going on a steady pace, and I am very surprised that I haven't felt any bad soreness (just some very slight soreness a couple times, but almost unnoticeable.) So I guess that your body will adapt as long as you know how to do it.
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    Originally Posted by grim83 View Post
    hey bro its possible, i use 80's for about 6-8reps. and i've been doing this for three years. but remember strength is individual. but if you keep at it and focus on progressively getting stronger you'll get there and have alot to show for it. a good idea is to use a weight you can do for about reps and work on getting to 10 (clean reps not looking like your having a seizure) and when you hit 10 bump up the weight
    Great advice grim. 6-8 reps with 80 lbs sounds incredible, congratulations on it. Three years sounds like a lot of work, but it sure is paying off for you. Yeah, I'm keeping my focus and discipline this time around. I got a calling to clean up my act and I'm following through with it.

    I finally got a pullup bar and a resistance cable, should be here on Friday. I'm finishing my regular workout this week, and then I'm going to work on something a little different next week and see how it goes. I haven't done pullups in way too many years, so I'll be fortunate if I can do just one for now. No big deal though, you gotta start somewhere.
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    Originally Posted by Rising_Phoenix View Post
    Great advice grim. 6-8 reps with 80 lbs sounds incredible, congratulations on it. Three years sounds like a lot of work, but it sure is paying off for you. Yeah, I'm keeping my focus and discipline this time around. I got a calling to clean up my act and I'm following through with it.

    I finally got a pullup bar and a resistance cable, should be here on Friday. I'm finishing my regular workout this week, and then I'm going to work on something a little different next week and see how it goes. I haven't done pullups in way too many years, so I'll be fortunate if I can do just one for now. No big deal though, you gotta start somewhere.
    this is true bro. i hope your one of the lucky ones who isn't training around an injury (i have a bad shoulder and knee). but like i said strength is individual, i cant bench as much as most of the guys i know, yet i have just as good a chest (if not a little better). but remember this is a marathon not a sprint. 3yrs to go from close (maybe less than your weights) t where i am now isn't bad. also my back is stronger than most of my other bodyparts so.... but keep at it, at your stage a resistance band may be good, but i wouldn't use it long as it has only so much resistance to offer
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    Originally Posted by grim83 View Post
    this is true bro. i hope your one of the lucky ones who isn't training around an injury (i have a bad shoulder and knee). but like i said strength is individual, i cant bench as much as most of the guys i know, yet i have just as good a chest (if not a little better). but remember this is a marathon not a sprint. 3yrs to go from close (maybe less than your weights) t where i am now isn't bad. also my back is stronger than most of my other bodyparts so.... but keep at it, at your stage a resistance band may be good, but i wouldn't use it long as it has only so much resistance to offer
    I'll keep that in mind, thanks. Sorry to hear about your shoulder/knee problems. Did you hurt them while lifting, or is it something unrelated to it? Obviously it's not stopping you from working out though, props for that.
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    "Dude, you say that you are doing DB rows with 90 lb dumbbells? How long did it take you to get to that point? That to me is unbelievable. I'm doing 2 sets of 15 DB rows with just 17.5 lb dumbbells and the last couple of reps are challenging."

    Thanks! You saying that is motivation for me. In my last routine I was actually doing 90lbs of weight plus the bar (I'm not sure what those handles are for weight) for about 14 reps but only say 12 of them are clean or strict and then on the last couple I'm using some "english". It took me less then 6 months to reach that point BUT that is an unfair statement because I was that strong years ago so muscle memory kicked in for me, originally it took me about 2 years of good training to get to that point.

    Truthfully if you find what works for you and ride it out as long as you can being a beginner you should be able to gain at least 5lbs of weight a week per big compound lift. So this is to say that your squats, deadlifts and benchpress should go up 5lbs a week easily if you have a decent diet and a good routine that works for you! For me these beginner gains lasted non stop for almost a year, then they stopped on bench press but continued on with squats and deads, but everyone is different. First things first though, you need the weights in order to increase them 5lbs/ week
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    Originally Posted by Rising_Phoenix View Post
    I'll keep that in mind, thanks. Sorry to hear about your shoulder/knee problems. Did you hurt them while lifting, or is it something unrelated to it? Obviously it's not stopping you from working out though, props for that.
    i did it before i started, the shoulder problem was from a (and yes i know how this sounds) mini bike accident about 6 months prior to lifting. basically i had a 300ib mini bike and i flipped it and landed with it on my shoulder, then skidded about 3-4 feet like that. the knee isn't too bad, but the shoulder acts up, especially with heavy benching, so i use mainly db presses. the knee was from playing basketball in gym class. but its cool, i train threw it most of the time, but sometimes the shoulder is a problem. and thanks for the props, but i know guys with much worse problems and they're doing much more than me so.... but anyways enough sob story, it comes down to training hard eating right and resting enough
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    Originally Posted by OpenSight View Post
    Thanks! You saying that is motivation for me. In my last routine I was actually doing 90lbs of weight plus the bar (I'm not sure what those handles are for weight) for about 14 reps but only say 12 of them are clean or strict and then on the last couple I'm using some "english". It took me less then 6 months to reach that point BUT that is an unfair statement because I was that strong years ago so muscle memory kicked in for me, originally it took me about 2 years of good training to get to that point.

    Truthfully if you find what works for you and ride it out as long as you can being a beginner you should be able to gain at least 5lbs of weight a week per big compound lift. So this is to say that your squats, deadlifts and benchpress should go up 5lbs a week easily if you have a decent diet and a good routine that works for you! For me these beginner gains lasted non stop for almost a year, then they stopped on bench press but continued on with squats and deads, but everyone is different. First things first though, you need the weights in order to increase them 5lbs/ week
    I didn't know anything about muscle memory until I read it in the forum a few days ago. It's a good thing, one of the few exceptions where nature isn't trying to rip you off.

    For deadlifts you use a barbell, right? Don't even think it's possible to do deadlifts with dumbbells, that's how much I know about lifting. That 5 lbs progress sounds good. But yeah, I really need to get me some weights before I can do that and be consistent.

    I don't do squats or deadlifts right now in my workout. I find bench presses way easier than
    other exercises, but the problem with that is that I'm also using the same weight, and I shouldn't really use the same weight for bench presses that I'm using for lateral raises. I hope all of you guys can relate to this noob phase, because I sure am doing some dumb things.
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    Originally Posted by grim83 View Post
    i did it before i started, the shoulder problem was from a (and yes i know how this sounds) mini bike accident about 6 months prior to lifting. basically i had a 300ib mini bike and i flipped it and landed with it on my shoulder, then skidded about 3-4 feet like that. the knee isn't too bad, but the shoulder acts up, especially with heavy benching, so i use mainly db presses. the knee was from playing basketball in gym class. but its cool, i train threw it most of the time, but sometimes the shoulder is a problem. and thanks for the props, but i know guys with much worse problems and they're doing much more than me so.... but anyways enough sob story, it comes down to training hard eating right and resting enough
    Yes man, you have the right spirit. Good for you, and rock on! Remember you are still very young, so with some care this problems might also go away or become less of an issue (not like they are stopping you from doing anything anyway.)
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    Originally Posted by Rising_Phoenix View Post
    Yes man, you have the right spirit. Good for you, and rock on! Remember you are still very young, so with some care this problems might also go away or become less of an issue (not like they are stopping you from doing anything anyway.)
    not normally, but i doubt it will go away without seeing a doctor ad finding out the extent of the damage
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    Originally Posted by Rising_Phoenix View Post
    For deadlifts you use a barbell, right? Don't even think it's possible to do deadlifts with dumbbells, that's how much I know about lifting. That 5 lbs progress sounds good. But yeah, I really need to get me some weights before I can do that and be consistent.

    I don't do squats or deadlifts right now in my workout. I find bench presses way easier than
    other exercises, but the problem with that is that I'm also using the same weight, and I shouldn't really use the same weight for bench presses that I'm using for lateral raises. I hope all of you guys can relate to this noob phase, because I sure am doing some dumb things.
    Yeah, Deadlifts are typically done with a Barbell but you can do dumbell variations for sure. I would start doing squats at least if not the deadlifts, once a week or once every 5-6 days. You can do them with just your body weight at first, this is a good way to get used to going low enough as some people are not very flexible, or if that is too light for you then do them while holding the 17lb dumbbells. If that is still too light, then you can do them one leg at a time (you place one leg/ foot behind you up on a bench or something and do the squat with the leg your standing on, I'm sure there is a video here somewhere). I'm sure doing them one leg at a time will be hard enough to keep you going until you get more weight. Once they get easy you can do these while holding one DB, then work up to both dumbbells. Squats are an essential part of a workout routine and have very good anabolic effects on your entire body and will make you bigger and stronger as a whole and not just your legs, so try to get used to doing them now!
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    Originally Posted by OpenSight View Post
    Yeah, Deadlifts are typically done with a Barbell but you can do dumbell variations for sure. I would start doing squats at least if not the deadlifts, once a week or once every 5-6 days. You can do them with just your body weight at first, this is a good way to get used to going low enough as some people are not very flexible, or if that is too light for you then do them while holding the 17lb dumbbells. If that is still too light, then you can do them one leg at a time (you place one leg/ foot behind you up on a bench or something and do the squat with the leg your standing on, I'm sure there is a video here somewhere). I'm sure doing them one leg at a time will be hard enough to keep you going until you get more weight. Once they get easy you can do these while holding one DB, then work up to both dumbbells. Squats are an essential part of a workout routine and have very good anabolic effects on your entire body and will make you bigger and stronger as a whole and not just your legs, so try to get used to doing them now!
    Guess what, I've never done proper squats (I think for some reason my legs have always been overdeveloped, so I didn't pay any attention to them, but through years of inactivity they have lost some of their strength.)

    However, I did some proper squats the night before last. At first I was trying to do them holding a dumbbell vertically with both hands, because that's the style that they show in one of my dumbbell books, but I found it way to hard to balance (I must be doing something wrong.) So I did them unweighted, but I was surprised at how much energy they required (though it makes sense, since you are lifting your full body weight.) The next day (yesterday) I felt some burn in my legs and maybe my lower-mid back, although nothing too serious. I was doing squats the past couple of weeks too, but they were different (I was actually flexing my legs too much and not keeping the soles of my feets completely in contact with the floor, which makes the exercise much easier.) I'm going to follow your advice and incorporate these to my regular workout.
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