You could be forgiven for thinking that dumbbells don't have any place in a weight loss routine. After all, the pictures of huge brutes using dumbbells that feature prominently in muscle magazines suggest that dumbbells are just for bodybuilders. In the weight loss area of your gym, there's probably a few resistance bands, some medicine balls and rows of treadmills and bikes, yet not a dumbbell in sight. Despite this, dumbbells could just be your new best buddy on a weight loss plan.
Benefits of Dumbbells
Weight training in general is an effective way to lose weight. Fortunately the old dogma that strength training is only for men or those looking to bulk up is gradually dying off. The numerous benefits of weight training, such as increased metabolism, more lean muscle mass, huge calorie burn and injury prevention are breaking through to the mainstream. Dumbbells are one of the best ways to get into strength training, notes Cassandra Forsythe in "The New Rules of Lifting for Women." The best dumbbell workouts for losing weight require a tough, balanced program.
Never mind kickbacks and curls with pink dumbbells, you want tough multi-joint moves that leave you out of breath, red-faced and sweating to be the focus of your routine. The more muscle groups you work, the more calories you burn and the quicker you lose weight. The most effective way to lose weight with dumbbells is to integrate them with other exercises, such as lunges, squats and presses. These all hit multiple muscle groups and are more demanding to perform, creating a higher calorie burn and metabolism boost, leading to faster weight loss.
Stick with a full body workout performed two or three times a week. This gives you ample rest to fully recover between sessions, but is enough to lose weight and increase strength. Pick two to three lower body and two to three upper body exercises for each session, each targeting a different muscle group. Start with four sets of 10 to 12 repetitions on each and aim to increase the sets and reps or go to the next set of dumbbells each workout. You can have a set routine that you follow every week or mix things up session by session -- as long as you're consistently progressing.
Even Better Results
Weight training is underrated for weight loss, but it can be even more effective with just a few simple tweaks. Instead of performing each exercise separately and just running through back to back sets, try a circuit workout. Pair an upper body exercise with a lower body exercise without resting in between, advises Rachel Cosgrove, author of "The Female Body Breakthrough." This is known as supersetting and ramps up your work rate metabolism. Alternatively, give Tabata training a go. This involves performing as many reps of an exercise as you can in 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds then repeat seven more times. Twenty seconds sounds easy, but by the last couple of rounds it'll feel more like 20 minutes. Pick three exercises and do one Tabata on each.
- The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess; Lou Schuler and Cassandra Forsythe; December 2008
- Rachel Cosgrove: Strength Training 101 - Getting Started
- Jen Comas Keck: Death by Tabata
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images