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Step Away From the Little Purple Weights

I was walking through the grocery store when I saw a little boy walking with his Mom. The boy wanted to be picked up, so without thinking twice, his mother, groceries in the other hand, scooped him up effortlessly. I was impressed. That boy must have weighed at least 60 lbs and the groceries another 10.

A few days later, I was finishing a session at the gym when I saw the mom from the grocery store. She was holding these little purple dumbbells which could have been mistaken for salt shakers. She was doing good repetition exercises but with almost no weight. As a Personal Trainer, I felt obligated to go over and share my knowledge with her.

The problem with the little purple weights: When you exercise, you are putting stress on your muscles. This added stress makes microscopic tears in muscle fibers which then heal and become stronger. So when the stress stays the same (same size weights, same exercises), or is too light, there is no adaptation. So really, there is no gain.

When you are regularly lifting a child, and a purse, bag or groceries, how is a small 5lb weight going to help you grow stronger?

When you exercise, you are working out to become better or improve. The harder you train, the more you can work, play and enjoy your life. We are all athletes, in some way, shape or form – team sports, individual pursuits or simply running after young children in every day life. So we need to train for our sport and our daily life.

The need to increase the weights: Ever wonder how moms are able to carry their toddlers as they grow? The child gets heavier and the Mom is still able to pick up and carry the child. This is because the increase in weight is gradual. The mother’s muscles are adapting to the slight change in weight. So as long as the weight gain is gradual, the mother’s muscles will be able to adapt to the new loads.

This idea of gradual weight increase is needed in your workout routine as well. If the stress on the body remains the same, the body will no longer adapt or grow stronger.

So everyone put down the little weights and grab something that feels like work. Remember “working out” has the word “work” in it. I want you to work harder in the gym, so everyday life outside the gym feels easier.

Casey is a certified nutritional coach and a certified personal trainer. His clients include US Marines, PGA and LPGA golfers, and those with physical limitations and medical conditions. Casey is co-owner of Next Level Fitness and co-creator of the highly successful Fit in 42 program. He can be reached at 760.413.9858 or

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