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Weight Training with Dumbbells

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

Before You Start

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


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

How many

The weight 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 a one-repetition maximum 1RM. To conduct this program, you will need to determine your 14 to 20RM, 11 to 14RM, 6 to 11RM and 3 to 6RM. 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 of 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    

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