Weight loss: Why dumbbells can help you slim down as well as gain muscle

Thought they were just for your biceps? A set of dumbbells are the perfect tool to help you lose weight

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're starting on your weight loss journey in 2021, you might feel hampered if you can't get hold of, or don't have the space for, equipment like the best treadmill or exercise bikes.

With lots of gyms closed as a result of the ongoing global health crisis, it's difficult for many people to find equipment to help with weight loss workouts. 

Fortunately, you don't need a big exercise machine to start losing weight. Resistance training at home with some of the best adjustable dumbbells can confer weight loss benefits as well as any cardio machine. They're cheaper to buy, can be used all manner of different ways and can even assist with heart health, muscle tone, grip strength and loads of other cool factors. 

When most people think of dumbbells, they often think of Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime, getting swole for the Mr Olympia competition. But according to science, you could be lifting as little as 1kg (just over 2lbs) per dumbbell, and still lose weight in a matter of weeks.

One study, published by researchers in the Journal of Taibah University Medical Sciences, looked at adults who performed structured group exercises three times a week with 1kg dumbbells. 

After six weeks, all the adults who did dumbbell exercise had a "significant" reduction in their BMI, or body mass index. Significant changes in their weight-to-hip ratio, body fat percentage and an increase in muscle was also recorded.

Dumbbell workout

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Working out with dumbbells is great because it changes your body composition. Moving under resistance burns fat and builds muscle, so although you might not lose as much actual weight as you would doing purely cardio, you're replacing some of that fat with muscle, so you'll wind up fitter.

You'll also be a lot stronger, and strength isn't just for gym buffs. As we get older, our muscles undergo a process called atrophy, wasting away until we become very physically weak. Building up muscle slows this process down, keeping us active and mobile for longer in our old age.

Getting fit isn't just about looking good and losing weight in 2021 – it's loving yourself enough to stay active for life. Adding resistance training into your exercise regime will make that happen.

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Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.