Dumbbells are a common piece of equipment in health clubs and in many home gyms. They offer the benefits of a full body workout, while conveniently taking up little space. You can use heavy dumbbells to gain strength or light dumbbells for simple low intensity exercises.
Another benefit of dumbbell exercises is the convenience. You can do multiple exercises using one set of dumbbells negating the unnecessary need to switch equipment during a workout. For this reason, they are a great tool to add to a circuit training program.
Dumbbells are also an effective way to increase overall strength when compared to machines. They effectively utilize stabilizing muscles of your body during the movements and also increase your range of motion.
Perhaps one of the most efficient training methods – compound exercises – can be performed by using dumbbells. Compound movements involve multi-joint exercises that work more than one muscle at a time.
These exercises increase strength, balance and athletic coordination. With a pair of dumbbells and a weight bench, you can design an effective full body routine utilizing several compound exercises.
The Dumbbell Exercise Routine
The following dumbbell exercises routine can be performed three days a week with at least one day of rest between workouts. Perform 3 sets of each exercise and between 8 to 10 reps:
1. Chest Press
- Sit at the end of an exercise bench with the dumbbell in each hand.
- Lie on your back holding the dumbbells at your side near your chest.
- Press the dumbbell straight up from your chest and then lower them back to the starting position.
2. Shoulder Press
- Sit at the end of the bench or stand with a pair of dumbbells in each hand.
- Raise the dumbbells to your shoulders and then press them straight up over your head.
- Lower the dumbbells to your shoulders and then press them up for another repetition (Remember to keep your elbows in close to your shoulders and head during the execution of this movement).
3. Dumbbell Bent – Over Rows
- Place your right knee and right hand on top of a flat bench.
- Grab a dumbbell in your left hand and pull it up toward your shoulder.
- Lower the weight back down to the ground and repeat for another rep. Perform this exercise on the left side of your body by bracing yourself with your left hand and knee on the bench.
- Stand with both feet shoulder-width apart and hold a pair of dumbbells at your side.
- Pull the dumbbells up until they are even with your shoulders.
- Perform a squat by lowering yourself until your legs are parallel with the floor.
- Stand straight up to the starting position. To avoid injury, remember to keep your back straight during the entire range of motion.
5. Bicep Curls
- Sit at the end of a bench or stand with a pair of dumbbells at your side.
- Curl your left hand toward your shoulder and then lower it back to the starting position.
- Repeat the same movement with your right hand. Remember to keep your elbows close to your body during the entire range of motion.
6. Tricep Extensions
- From a standing or seated position, hold a dumbbell with both hands and raise it over your head.
- Slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head with both elbows tucked close to your head.
- Straighten your arms while holding the weight back up to the starting position.
- Stand with a pair of dumbbells in each hand at your side.
- Step forward with your left leg and lower the body so that your left thigh is parallel with the floor.
- Stand back up to the starting position and repeat this movement with the other leg.
- Lie on your back with both knees bent and hold a light dumbbell at your chest.
- Raise your chest and shoulders off the floor approximately six inches.
- Lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat this movement.
Before You Exercise
Always warm up before starting dumbbell exercises by performing 5 to 10 minutes of light cardio, or bodyweight movements. Also, remember to occasionally try new exercises and switch up your routine to break up the monotony. A proper warm-up routine is an effective way to challenge your muscles and stimulate additional muscle fibers that will ultimately result in greater strength gains.