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Weight Training with Dumbbells

This is an example dumbbell weight training program to develop an athlete's general strength.

Before You Start

Prior to starting any training, it is recommended you have a medical examination to ensure it is safe for you to do so. Any application of this training program is at the athlete's own discretion and risk.


The following are examples of exercises you could use to make up your program. Select the link for an explanation of the exercise:

How many

To conduct this program, you will need to determine your 14 to 20RM, 11 to 14RM, 6 to 11RM and 3 to 6RM. The amount of weight to be used for each exercise is based on a percentage of the maximum amount of weight that can be lifted one time for that exercise, generally referred to as one repetition maximum (1RM). Where appropriate determine your 1RM for each exercise and then calculate the required weight as follows:

  • 14 to 20RM = 60% of 1RM
  • 11 to 14RM = 70% of 1RM
  • 6 to 11RM = 80% of 1RM
  • 3 to 6RM = 90% of 1RM

A Thirty Week Program

General notes:

  • Perform all sets on an exercise and then move to the next exercise
  • Perform all sets until fatigue prohibits the completion of an additional repetition
  • For each exercise monitor the average number of repetitions/set and if the range is exceeded then adjust the weights accordingly at the next session
  • Allow 1 to 2 minutes recovery between each set and each exercise
  • With each exercise use a 2/3 cadence, that is, a count of two to move to the exercise end position and a count of 3 to return to the exercise start position
  • For weeks 18 to 30 repeat weeks 5 to 17
Week Sessions/Week Sets/Session Repetitions/Set
1-3 3 3 14 to 20RM
4 2 3 11 to 14RM
5-7 3 3 11 to 14RM
8 1 2 6 to 11RM
9-11 3 2 6 to 11RM
12 1 2 3 to 6RM
13-15 3 1 3 to 6RM
16 1 1 6 to 11RM
17 Rest    

Related References

The following references provide additional information on this topic:

  • CHUI, E. (1950) The effect of systematic weight training on athletic power. Research Quarterly. American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, 21 (3), p. 188-194
  • BAECHLE, T. R. and EARLE, R. W. (2012) Weight training: steps to success. Human Kinetics
  • CAPEN, E. K. (1950) The effect of systematic weight training on power, strength, and endurance. Research Quarterly. American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, 21 (2), p. 83-93

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (1997) Weight Training with Dumbbells [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

Related Pages

The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic: