One of the best aspects of the P90X system is that it challenges you without the need for heavy, expensive equipment. Only a pull-up bar and either resistance bands or dumbbells are required.
Why Dumbbells Over Resistance Bands?
Gym rats claiming that dumbbells are objectively the best choice have it wrong. Studies have concluded that a dumbbell or resistance band with the same weight/resistance rating has the same ability to build and tone muscle.
Unlike workout machines, either offers a free range of motion as well. So your movements won’t be restricted in an unnatural manner.
The key difference here in terms of function is that with dumbbells you’re lifting against gravity while with resistance bands you’re lifting against tension.
Although resistance bands are great for travel, dumbbells are incredibly robust and a quality product can last a lifetime. Although manufacturers such as Bodylastics are beefing up their resistance bands so snapping is less likely, their offerings are made from materials that degrade over time (latex, rubber, etc.). If you’re working out at home why not choose what’s best in the long-term?
Range of Weights Recommended
For best results and to adapt to your current fitness capabilities, you’ll want a wide range of dumbbells at your disposal or adjustable dumbbells. Exercises such as triceps kickbacks require light weights, while others like heavy pants are intended to be executed with heavy resistance.
The P90X Fitness Guide suggests using a range of dumbbells starting at 5 pounds and going as high as 70 pounds.
Fixed vs. Adjustable Dumbbells
You’d need a rack filled with fixed dumbbells (ranging from 5 to 60 lbs.) to replace most adjustable dumbbells. So by going with an adjustable model, you’ll save space and if you need a comprehensive set, money too.
Adjustable dumbbell brands like Bowflex have gone high-tech. SelectTech 560 includes Bluetooth connectivity which syncs and records sets, reps and the weight used. Results are viewed via the Bowflex SelectTech App.
People with plenty of space looking to build a more professional gym at home may prefer the convenience of traditional dumbbells. Rather than pausing the P90X video to change the weight of your adjustable dumbbells, you’ve got the ability to quickly grab what is needed from a rack.
Most people however, will be better off going with adjustable dumbbells as they offer a greater value.
For more analysis on the characteristics of both fixed and adjustable dumbbells, read the full article here.
Which Adjustable Dumbbells to Choose?
Bowflex and PowerBlock are the most popular makers of adjustable dumbbells, and within these two camps the choices are simple.
There is essentially an option for average fitness needs and an amped up version for fitness enthusiasts, power lifters and athletes. Specifically, the Bowflex SelectTech 552/560 or PowerBlock Personal Trainer Set is for most people, and the SelectTech 1090 or PowerBlock Elite for the highest achievers.
On the Bowflex side the SelectTech 560 is the latest model replacing the 552.
Which Fixed Dumbbells to Get?
Dumbbell sets for light lifting are commonly encased in vinyl or neoprene. These are commonly intended for women with average fitness goals.
Sets with weights above 20 lbs. are fundamentally made of cast iron.
Brands are much less significant in this space compared to adjustable dumbbells, as these are comparably simple products to make. That being said, XMARK and CAP offer quality products and are among the best sellers on Amazon.com.
Don’t be fooled by starter fixed dumbbell sets with low price tags, as you’ll easily outgrow these, and the included weights won’t cover what is need to get the most out of P90X or P90X3.