5kg/10lb Dumbbells Explained: What They Are, What They Can Be Used For, And How To Use Them

5kg 10lb dumbbells explained

As a beginner, you may be stuck with no option other than to use light dumbbells. You may also be wondering what exactly you can do with these. If this sounds like you, then you may want to keep reading. Because today I’ll be explaining what 5kg (10lb) dumbbells are, what they can be used for, and how to use them.

5kg (10lb) dumbbells are best used by beginners to build small amounts of muscle through isolation-type exercises such as the bicep curl, tricep extension, fly, and lateral raise. HIIT-style workouts can also be used to burn fat by doing dynamic movements with 30 second rest times in between sets.

When I first started weight training 10 years ago, I had nothing but a pair of diddly light dumbbells.

So I had to find ways to make them work for me.

This post will share my research and experience into exactly how to make the most from training with light weights and the essentials to consider before wasting money on a pair of dumbbells that you may outgrow in less than half a year.

Let’s dive in!

Looking For 10lb Dumbbells?

Based on personal experience, here’s what I use and reocmmend!

Are 5kg/10lb Dumbbells Considered Heavy?

Generally speaking, 5kg (10lb) dumbbells are not considered to be heavy weights. They are designed to be used for light resistance training workouts and small exercises such as the bicep curl. Heavier dumbbells that weigh at least 10 kilograms are recommended for a more intense workout.

So what’s considered to be heavy and light in terms of dumbbell training? You can take a look at the table below to find out:

Dumbbell KgDumbbell LbMenWomen
1-5kg2-10lbExtremely LightVery light
6-10kg15-20lbVery lightLight
31-40kg70-90lbHeavyVery Heavy
45kg+100lb+Very heavyExtremely Heavy

These classifications are based on my personal 10-year training history as a male, and the finding that the average female has 33-40% less strength compared to the average male.

As you can see, 5kg (10lb) dumbbells are on the extreme low-end of the dumbbell weight spectrum.

For the average man, they are considered to be extremely light. And for the average woman, they are considered to be very light.

Are 5kg/10lb Dumbbells Good For Beginners?

5kg (10lb) dumbbells are a good weight for male and female beginners to start resistance training with. This resistance is light enough to minimize the risk of injury caused by lifting too heavy a weight. But they are also heavy enough to challenge naive muscles.

What weight dumbbells should you be using??
Dom shares tips on choosing the right dumbbell weight as a beginner.

As a beginner, it’s extremely important to not get too ahead of yourself.

Start by lifting light weights first, and as you become stronger, you can slowly add more weight through the method known as progressive overload.

5kg (10lb) dumbbells are the perfect weight to start with in my opinion.

“If you’ve never lifted weights before, then go for a set with multiple weights so you can apply the right weight for different exercises. A set containing 3, 4, and 5kgs or 5, 7.5, and 10lbs are a good start to give you multiple options.”

Dom Thorpe, Personal Trainer.

With that being said, 5kg (10lb) dumbbells are considered to be light loads (as you now know). And it probably won’t take long for you to outgrow them if you’re training regularly.

So as a beginner, you shouldn’t forget to factor in some redundant dumbbell weight when buying dumbbells.

This will allow you to accommodate for future progression.

For males, I’d recommend a dumbbell set that goes to at least 30kg (65lb). And for females, a dumbbell set that goes to at least 20kg (45lb) is good.

The heavier the dumbbells the longer they will last you (especially if your goal is to build muscle which requires you to lift heavy loads).

But heavier dumbbells also cost more.

So ultimately it’s up to you how much you’re willing to pay to future-proof your dumbbells.

You can go to my other article for more tips on how to choose a beginner’s dumbbell.

What Will 5kg/10lb Dumbbells Do For You?

5kg (10lb) dumbbells can be used by beginners who have under 6 months of training experience to build a small amount of muscle, lose fat, and tone the arms. But after this period, it is recommended to start using heavier dumbbells to continue progression.

Below, I created two tables to show what males and females can achieve with 5kg (10lb) dumbbells.

But please bear in mind that these are general estimations.

In reality, the results you achieve will also be based on many other variables such as:

  • Current body weight.
  • Current strength level.
  • Previous training history.
  • Dedication to an effective programe.
  • Genetics.
  • Diet.

With that being said, here’s what 5kg (10lb) dumbbells can do for men:

Male Training LevelBuild MuscleBurn FatTone ArmsGet Ripped
Expected male results with 5kg/10lb dumbbells

And here’s what 5kg (10lb) dumbbells can do for women:

Female Training LevelBuild MuscleBurn FatTone ArmsGet Ripped
Expected female results with 5kg/10lb dumbbells

And here’s a guide to determine what training level you are:

  • Beginner– 1 to 6 months training.
  • Novice– 12 to 18 months training.
  • Intermediate– 24 to 48 months training.
  • Advanced– over 5 years training.

Note: these results are based on my personal experience and data from the Strength Level database which shows how much dumbbell weight the average person can lift for different exercises at different training levels.

Can 5kg/10lb Dumbbells Build Muscle?

5kg (10lb) dumbbells can be enough for beginners to build 1-2 lbs of muscle in the upper body using small exercises like the lateral raise, bicep curl, reverse fly, and tricep extension. However, heavier dumbbells are recommended to progress as a beginner and continue building muscle.

Can 5kg (10lb) dumbbells build muscle?

So what do 1-2 pounds of extra upper body muscle look like?

To be honest- not much.

It will be barely noticeable on most people, especially if you’re above 12% body fat (since your body fat hides muscle definition).

Even if you’re extremely lean and have the eyes of a hawk, you still probably won’t notice much aesthetic difference.

You may notice some minute strength gains though.

What about exercises other than the lateral raise, bicep curl, fly, and tricep extension? Can 5kg dumbbells make a difference there?

The short answer is no.

Lower body exercises like the dumbbell squat and deadlift require heavy dumbbells (at least 20kg) to have any real muscle-building impact for the average beginner. That’s because the legs are such large muscles. They require an equally large stimulus to challenge them.

Remember- building muscle requires heavy resistance to stimulate growth.

Likewise- larger compound upper body exercises like the dumbbell bench press, shoulder press, and row also require heavy weights to make a noticeable impact on the chest, shoulder, and back muscles (respectively).

Additionally- after around 6 months of training when you’re no longer a beginner, you may find muscle gains begin to plateau even for the small upper exercises mentioned previously (for men more so than women).

You can check out my other article to learn more about the ideal dumbbell Kg to build muscle as a skinny dude!

Can 5kg/10lb Dumbbells Help You Lose Weight?

5kg (10lb) dumbbells can be used for weight loss if they are used in fat-burning workouts. This can be achieved through light dumbbell exercises that increase the body’s caloric expenditure. Combining this with a caloric deficit diet will promote the burning of calories from body fat.


Fat-loss essentially boils down to putting yourself in a calorie deficit.

When this happens, your body begins to extract the energy it needs from its internal reserves (like from your belly fat!).

And to put yourself in a calorie deficit, you have two options:

  1. Increase energy expenditure through physical activity.
  2. Decrease energy intake through restricting calorie intake.

All forms of physical activity- whether it be walking, jogging, weight training, cardio, etc- will increase your energy expenditure.

So 5lb dumbbells can most definitely help people at all training levels to lose weight.

20 Minute Full Body Dumbbell Workout (Light Weight)
Check out this HIIT workout you can do with light dumbbells to lose weight!

I like to use light dumbbells for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to torch the most calories.

This involves doing as many repetitions as you can for a single dumbbell exercise for a set amount of time (usually 1 minute), before taking a short rest (30 seconds) and moving on to the next exercise.

Ideally, the exercises should be dynamic.

This means they should move your body in different directions to target multiple muscle groups.

My favorite light dumbbell HIIT exercises include:

  • Lunges.
  • Goblet squats.
  • Dumbbell swings.
  • Clean and press.
  • Dumbbell snatch.
  • Renegade rows.
  • Squat to press.

You can check out the video to see how to structure these exercises into a fat-burning dumbbell workout for weight loss!

You may also be interested in my other article to learn how and why dumbbells are effective for losing belly fat!

Can 5kg/10lb Dumbbells Tone Your Arms?

5kg (10lb) dumbbells can be used by beginners to tone the arms. It is recommended to use exercises like the bicep curl, tricep extension, and lateral raise to target all of the arm muscles. Fat-burning workouts can then be used to reveal the tone and definition created by these exercises.

However, please note that after around 6 months of arms training with 5lb dumbbells, you’ll likely outgrow them and need to upgrade your dumbbells.

That’s because to build arm muscle, you need to work in the range of 5-20 reps per set at a weight that’s around 40-85% of the maximum weight you can lift for that exercise.

Only at this intensity, can you give your arm muscles the weight stimulus required for growth and tone.

What does this weight look like for a beginner?

Take a look at the table below which shows the average weight load for beginner arm exercises performed at 8, 12, and 15 reps:

Dumbbell Arm Exercise8 Rep Weight12 Rep Weight15 Rep Weight
Bicep curl 5kg (10lb)4kg (9lb)3kg (7lb)
Tricep extension5kg (10lb)4kg (7lb)3kg (7lb)
Lateral raise3kg (7lb)2kg (7lb)2kg (4lb)
Weights are for a single dumbbell in each hand. Values calculated from the Strength Level database.

The above are male standards. Females should subtract around 35%.

You can see that 5kg dumbbells are just about enough to challenge the arm muscles in a beginner.

As you become stronger with training experience, you’ll most likely require more than 5kg in order to keep your arm muscles challenged.

Therefore if you’re goal is to significantly increase arm size, definition, and tone, you may want to consider buying heavier dumbbells (20kg per dumbbell will last you a good few years).

If you’re interested, you can check out my other article for my best dumbbell recommendations for arm workouts.

Can 5kg/10lb Dumbbells Get You Ripped?

The average person is unlikely to get ripped from using 5kg (10lb) dumbbells. Building a ripped physique requires at least 10lbs of added muscle combined with a low body fat percentage. 5kg dumbbells are not heavy enough to build this amount of extra muscle mass.

To give you a better idea:

Below, you can see the ripped physique I built through dumbbell training.

Can you get ripped with 5kg (10lb) dumbbells?

But this physique did not come about from using 5kg dumbbells. Instead, I was lifting 30+kg dumbbells consistently (over a year).

So I don’t it’s possible to get ripped with light dumbbells (based on my experience).

Can you build a leaner physique by using 5kg dumbbells?

Of course.

You could use light dumbbells to burn enough fat (using the method explained previously) to reveal highly visible muscle definition.

This could result in a shredded skinny look.

But from personal experience, I honestly doubt anyone could build a genuinely jacked and ripped physique by using 5kg dumbbells alone.

If you’re interested, you can check out my other article for more information on how to build a ripped body using dumbbells.

My Beginner Dumbbell Recommendations

To cap things off- here are 3 dumbbells I recommend.

They aren’t necessarily the most premium dumbbells on the market (not many people can afford those after all).

But having tested all 3, I know they can help you reach your training goals without breaking the bank. They’re what I recommend to my friends and family.

Yes4all are a good value light dumbbell for beginners to buy instead of 5kg (10lb) dumbbells.

1) Yes4All Spinlock (Light Weight Choice)

These come in a variety of weight options, but the cheapest model weighs 10kg (20lbs) per dumbbell.

If you’ve taken anything away from this post it should be this- 5kg dumbbells will not last you for very long before you outgrow them. EVEN as a beginner.

Instead, I’d always recommend spending a tiny bit more to get something that will last you much longer.

And that’s why I’ve chosen the Yes4Alls as my light weight choice.

They aren’t the fanciest dumbbells in the world. But they are definitely one of the most affordable. They also provide enough resistance for all beginners to get a good workout at home.

These dumbbells are also durable. They’re essentially cast iron plates loaded onto a stainless steel bar with minimal moving parts.

The Yes4Alls are great for general fitness, fat-burning, and light toning (men and women).

You can check out the full specs here.

UK peeps can get the Yes4Alls from the UK Amazon site (you can see the cheapest price here).

Core home fitness and muscle squad dumbbells are great dumbbells for beginners to intermediates.

2) Core Home Fitness Or Muscle Squad (Moderate Weight Choice)

The Core Home Fitness dumbbells weigh 25kg (50lbs) per dumbbell.

They’re more expensive than the Yes4Alls, but the higher weight capacity makes them much more future-proof if you’re at all serious about your dumbbell training.

Furthermore, each dumbbell contains 10 different weight settings that can be adjusted with a simple twist of the handle.

They are awesome for beginners to build a decent amount of muscle and tone at home. The lower weight settings are also great for fat-burning dumbbell HIIT workouts.

If your goal is to get ripped, then these can do an OK job.

But for better results, you should consider the Powerblocks (see next).

From my research, they’re also one of the cheapest 50lb dumbbells you can buy.

You can find the cheapest Core Home Fitness price here.

These aren’t available in the UK though. The closest UK alternative to the best of my knowledge is the Muscle Squad dumbbells (you can find the cheapest price here).

3) Powerblock Elite (Heavy Weight Choice)- My Recommendation

These are the ones I currently use and cannot recommend them enough.

The Powerblock Elites weigh in at 25kg (50lbs) per dumbbell for the base model.

But they can be upgraded to a whopping 70lb and 90lb whenever you’re ready, by using their addon kits (that’s enough weight for 90% of people).

This means beginners have enough resistance to last for a couple of years, and also have the flexibility to keep progressing (if and when the time comes).

Each dumbbell contains up to 28 different weight increments. You can adjust these using the slick pin-selector mechanism.

They are great for beginners to build muscle, increase strength, develop tone, burn fat, and get ripped at home.

Girls- the 50lb base model will last you a good few years.

Guys- you’ll probably need to get the addon kit after a couple of years of solid training (depending on your current training level and how jacked you want to get).

These are some of the best investments you can make to your personal health.

I found the cheapest place to get the Elites is direct from Amazon here.

If you’re from the UK, then the Powerblock Pro’s are the cheaper alternative since the Elites aren’t available to your domestic market.

Product Recap


I’ve explained what 5kg (10lb) dumbbells are, what they can be used for, and how to use them.

These are considered to be very light weights for most people.

Beginners can use them to build a small amount of muscle using isolation-type moves like the bicep curl, burn fat, and develop a bit of arm tone.

But they are no means effective for any serious long-term goal.

If you want something that will last you for more than a few months of progression, then I highly recommend you to consider something a bit heavier.

My dumbbell recommendations will do the job perfectly, and at an affordable price!

What dumbbell weight will you be using?

Let me know in the comments!

You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition I used to go from skinny to ripped!

Thanks for reading guys!

Peace Out,


(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)


I'm Kal (B.S, M.S)- a health & fitness writer and owner of Kalibre Fitness. I love to nerd out on weight training and nutrition. My primary interests are in muscle hypertrophy mechanisms and strength development. You can connect with me in the "Contact Us" section below!

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