How to Lift Dumbbells While Sitting

Target your arms, shoulders and back with sitting dumbbell exercises.

Target your arms, shoulders and back with sitting dumbbell exercises.

Lifting dumbbells is an effective way to tone muscles and increase muscle strength. Since muscle has a higher metabolic rate than fat, you will also burn more calories, even while you're at rest, for overall weight loss. You can lift dumbbells at the gym or at home and in various positions including lying down, standing and sitting. Sitting while lifting is one of the easiest ways to start weight training since you have the added support of a chair to keep you steady and focused.

Step 1

Strengthen your biceps with a seated dumbbell biceps curl. Do this exercise while seated on a bench with back support at the gym or on a chair at home. Sit with your back against the backrest of the chair. Your shoulders, butt and back of the head should be touching the backrest as you contract your abdominals to maintain a straight posture. Feet should be planted on the floor with knees bent to 90 degrees. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms extended by your sides and palms facing forward. Slowly start to bend your elbows as you curl the dumbbells up toward your shoulders. Keep your elbows by your sides throughout the movement and focus on contracting the biceps to lift. Pause at the top of the movement before slowly lowering back down to the start position. Repeat 10 times for a total of three sets.

Step 2

Lift dumbbells while sitting to do a shoulder press exercise. Sit upright with your butt against the back of a bench touching the back rest. Alternatively, if you feel you have enough control, sit on the edge of a chair with knees bent to 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor. Contract the abdominals and core region to keep your back straight and body stable. Lift a dumbbell in each hand by your sides with palms facing forward. Bend your elbows and lift your arms straight up over your head keeping your palms facing forward. At the end of the movement your arms should be nearly straight. Pause before lowering to the start position. Repeat 10 times for a total of three sets.

Step 3

Develop the middle back muscles with back rows while seated. Sit on one end of a bench that has no back-rest such that the bench is between your legs. Contract the abdominals and back muscles to sit upright and prevent slumping. Feet should be flat on the floor on each side of the bench. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with arms and elbows tucked in by your sides. Bend the elbows to 90 degrees with palms facing inward toward each other and weights positioned vertically in each hand. Slowly contract the back muscles as you slide your elbows straight back against the sides of your body to point your elbows behind you. Pause at the end of the movement before returning to start. Repeat 10 times for a total of three sets.


  • Consult with a fitness trainer if you're unsure how to properly execute the exercise with good technique or to assist in developing a full-body weight-lifting program.


  • Always consult with a medical professional prior to initiating a new exercise routine that could affect your current health status.
  • Warm up your muscles prior to your exercise routine to avoid the risk of injury or poor performance. Try five to 10 minutes of light cardio such as jogging in place or brisk walking combined with a few dynamic movements such as shoulder shrugs and arm circles.


About the Author

Jennifer Andrews specializes in writing about health, wellness and nutrition. Andrews has a Master of Science in physical therapy from the University of Alberta as well as a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. She teaches yoga and pilates and is a recent graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

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