It might seem like a measly amount of weight, but the truth is you can get a lot of benefit from starting a lifting routine with simple 5-pound dumbbells. Those basic pieces of equipment give you lots of options for toning your upper body and arms, and you might be surprised at how tough it actually gets to lift just 5 pounds time and time again. Perform a proper warmup before you start any type of exercise routine. Walk, jog or cycle for five to 10 minutes, or until you break a light sweat, to get your heart pumping and oxygen flowing to the muscles that are about to do some work.
Work the deltoid muscles in your shoulders, as well as the trapezius muscles of your back by performing the lateral raise holding a set of dumbbells. Stand with your feet close together and grasp a set of dumbbells in front of your upper legs. Your palms should face each other. Bend your knees slightly, and then raise your arms into a "wing" position, in which your arms are straight out from your trunk so that you're creating a T position with your body. Brace your abdomen as you lower your arms back down to the starting position.
Work the pectoralis muscles in your chest, as well as the triceps muscles in your arms and the deltoid muscles in the front of your shoulders by doing the incline bench press. Grasp a set of dumbbells and lie down on a bench press that is set at an angle, placing your feet flat on the floor for stability. Start the exercise by placing the dumbbells just above your shoulders and slightly outward from the body. Press the dumbbells upward until your arms are straight and your hands are above your eyes. You can also do this exercise on a flat bench, which is commonly known as the dumbbell bench press.
Work the pecs and deltoids as well as the biceps and triceps in the arms by doing the dumbbell fly exercise on a flat bench. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand and then lie on the bench with your feet resting flat on the floor. Press the dumbbells upward so that your arms are straight up and perpendicular from your body, and your palms are facing one another. Slowly and carefully lower your arms in a wide arc, stopping when your arms create a T position relative to the rest of your body. Press the arms back up to almost touching to complete one set.
- You may have heard the arguments regarding whether to do more repetitions and sets, or add more weight and do fewer repetitions and sets. Some say doing just one set with a heavier weight is just as effective as doing three sets of a lighter weight; others say the opposite -- confusing to say the least. When you're just getting started with your strength training routine, the key is to lift safely, no matter what your strength level or personal goals. When you're just starting out, it may only be reasonable for you to do one set of 10 to 12 repetitions. As you get stronger, add a second set to your routine, and then a third. When you get strong enough to complete three sets, it may be time to move up to a heavier, more challenging weight.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.