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Small Props, Big Difference: Dumbbells, Weights & Balls

Merrithew Mini Handweight

Welcome to the second installment of our three-part Small Props, Big Difference series. To keep clients coming back for more, workouts need to constantly be refreshed for variety and they also need to be increasingly challenging for best results. This week, we shine the spotlight on weights, helping you determine which type to use, when.

One of the many ways we can progress an exercise involves increasing peripheral resistance. With a variety of weighted options available, including Mini Handweights, Soft Dumbbells and Toning Balls, it may not always be clear which tool is best for the job and why, especially when all three are available in similar weight categories. We break it down to type of client and style of exercise.

Client Type

Especially for clients who are post-rehab or from the active aging demographic, Soft Dumbbells are a fantastic choice. Equipped with a handstrap for safety, these weights are soft on the skin and easier to grip. In the event that a weight is dropped and lands on any part of the body, the impact will be gentler, thanks to their neoprene cushioning. Youngsters who are being introduced to fitness can also safely work with these relatively light weights, under adult supervision, of course.

Toning balls are a good option for clients who require extra work through the hand and forearm. With their soft, flexible vinyl coverings, they easily conform to the shape of the hands. As they cover a wider surface of the palm, they work the intrinsic hand muscles during the exercise, a must when looking to improve grip strength. As per the name ‘toning’, these tools are designed for toning the body, rather than muscle building.

Exercise Style

All three tools can easily be found in most mind-body exercise facilities and are well-suited to mind-body exercise, but as always, some options are better than others!

Toning balls are a great addition to a Pilates workout, especially as they can be placed almost anywhere on the body. For example, when performing a Leg Lift, a Toning Ball can be incorporated between the ankles, knees or thighs or held against the outside of the thigh for further challenge. They can also be used under the feet in a Shoulder Bridge to work on balance and stability.

Mini Handweights are great for athletic conditioning – with a rigid, sturdy feel in the hand, their ribbed surface accommodates a solid grip. Plus, they also offer the handstrap feature, allowing for fast, intense movements that are also safe.

Pro Tip: When holding any type of weighted tool, ensure that the wrist is in proper alignment and not rolled forward or backward. The wrist should be aligned with the forearm for support and Mini Handweights/Soft Dumbbells should be grasped with the palm and not by the fingers.

Do you have any other tips to consider when deciding between Mini Handweights, Soft Dumbbells and Toning Balls? Share them in the comments section below!

In case you missed out on our first installment, all about Flex-Band Exercisers vs Strength Tubing, click here to catch up!