Rowing with substandard dumbbells

After you have been training for long enough it is easy to row a 100lbs. dumbbell with solid technique. When this occurs you are now ready for 105lbs. dumbbells, however, if your gym doesn’t have those dumbbells and you don’t own an adjustable dumbbell what is one to do?

Well, here are a few solutions that I have found over time to allow you to creatively solve your row problems or otherwise and allow yourself to still have some progressive resistance:

Lifting strap dumbbells together

Take a long lifting strap for this one. Cinch it around the dumbbell you will be lifting like it was your own wrist, then wrap it around the dumbbell that you will be lifting. Make sure you have these put together tight and then you have a good grip. One issue with this method will always be some play in that the dumbbell (bottom) will swing as you lift it and the dumbbells if rubber coated can get somewhat stuck together if you drop them hard at the end of a set (experience speaking here). This can work well, key is don’t be a dick about setting them down or you might just donate a toenail or mess up your hand.

Hold two kettlebells together with one hand

The trick to this is to set the handle of the one further from you deeper into the nearer one like pictured below so it will be easy to hold on to. This even gives an artificial fat grip to the implement and won’t really roll too much if you seat it correctly in your hand in the first place. You can also strap the kettlebell to the dumbbell trick mentioned above in a fix.

Ankle weights

These can be added to yourself or the dumbbell as a means to make it heavier.  You could even use this on a pair of dumbbells if the movement you are doing requires that. Another use it to wear the ankle weight on your wrist as a means to add even more resistance. Also in this picture is the use of magnet weights that would be put on dumbbells or weight stacks, the issues with theses is they have a tendency to fall off when you are getting aggressive (read: very liberal, sloppy form) with your rowing technique. Nothing like a spontaneous strip set.

Are these the classiest ways to get a heavier dumbbell? No, but they are an effective way to give yourself more resistance in the movements you find productive when you currently don’t have a better way to progress them.

Photo credits go to Lauren Lane and Ryan Lane. Also thanks to Southeast Missouri State University and Maryville University for letting me utilize their gyms for these pictures.


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