Exercises to Gain Mass With a 25-Pound Dumbbell

Don't skip your workout because you only have 25 pounds.
i Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images

Even if all you have is a 25-pound dumbbell, you can get an effective muscle-building workout. Let go of the idea that heavy weights are the only way to build mass. You can stimulate muscle protein synthesis, the mechanism behind muscle growth, with a high number of repetitions with a lighter weight.


Common exercise wisdom is that you must lift heavy weights for six to 12 repetitions to build mass. A study in the “Journal of Applied Physiology” published in April 2012 challenges this theory. Researchers had one group of young men lift weights equal to about 80 percent of their one repetition maximum to fatigue and another group lift weights equal to about 30 percent of their one repetition maximum to fatigue. Both groups experienced similar muscle growth. An earlier study published in a 2010 issue of “Plos One” also showed that protein synthesis increased in men who strength trained with light weights to fatigue as well as it did in men who used near maximum weight to fatigue. The muscles need to experience fatigue to grow -- how you stimulate that fatigue is not important.


If you keep lifting the same weights the same way at every workout, your body gets accustomed to the routine and stops growing. Instead of always going heavier to change up your routine, lighten the weight and up the number of repetitions to offer the change needed for growth. It may take 20 or more repetitions to truly fatigue your muscles with 25 pounds; if you work to the point of not being able to do another rep with good form, you can stimulate growth.

Classic Exercises

Use your 25-pound weight to do classic exercises, such as a single-arm chest press, single-arm rows and overhead triceps extensions. Grab the underside of one head of the weight and hold it at your chest as you do deep squats. You can also use the dumbbell to perform single-arm shoulder presses, rear deltoid flyes and single-leg hip hinges. Do two to four sets of 25 to 35 repetitions of each exercise.

Functional Exercises

A 25-pound dumbbell gives you the opportunity to do more in each weight workout. Use a 25-pound dumbbell to perform total-body functional moves that activate multiple large muscles at once, leading to a greater release of growth hormone. Examples of total-body dumbbell moves include single-arm dumbbell swings, wood chops and single-arm squat and presses to your routine.

the nest