I’m getting ready to post screenshots of my home dumbbell routines here. I rotate through the routines, lifting about 3x a week, using one routine each time.
The whole idea behind lifting heavy weight is lifting to failure. You want enough weight that your muscles cannot lift any more once you’re done with your workout–that’s how you build muscle fastest. Obviously, you have to go at this carefully. If you pick up the weights and can only do two reps, you’re not being terribly wise (particularly if you don’t have someone to spot you). Super heavy weight has it’s place, but that’s not what we’re after, here.
With dumbbells, we do 8-10 reps of each exercise with as much weight as you can. If you get to 10 and you’re not completely wiped out after your last set, you need more weight next time. If you can’t do 8, you’ve got too much–scale back. Each time you do your 8-10 reps, that’s a set. I usually do 2 sets of each exercise, but you can do 3 or even 4. Try and do at least two, or I find you just don’t build muscle well.
If you’re new to lifting, you’ll definitely want to start with a routine marked with a “1” for several weeks or months before moving to a “2.” I’ve tried to add links at the bottom of each photo for any particularly unusual exercises, but you can Google any of them and find videos. Good luck! Have fun!