Whether you're dusting off the set of old dumbbells in your basement or hitting the gym several times a week, regular weight training can help you develop a body that gets you noticed. Dumbbells offer a simple way to build the muscles in both your upper and lower body, but they shouldn't be the only tools in your workout program.
With a set of dumbbells, you've got a wide range of exercises at your fingertips. To use the dumbbells to work your upper body -- and depending on the type of exercises you adopt -- you can target such muscles as your biceps, triceps, shoulders and chest. Exercises that help you build these four muscle groups include biceps curls, triceps extensions, shoulder presses and flyes, respectively. Dedication to working these muscles with dumbbells regularly can result in stronger, more pronounced muscles.
Dumbbells can also help you target the muscles in your lower body. While body-weight squats and lunges are effective on their own, incorporating dumbbells make each exercise more challenging. Dumbbell squats and lunges target your quads, but also involve a number of other muscle groups, including your glutes, hamstrings and trapezius. Exercises such as dumbbell straight-back, straight-leg deadlifts offer effective ways to build your hamstrings.
Using dumbbells regularly helps you build your muscles, but consider your workout goals before jumping into a weight-training regimen. If you need to lose a significant amount of fat, aerobic exercise is ideal because it helps you burn calories much quicker than standard weight training. For example, Harvard Medical School reports that a 155-pound person who lifts weights for 30 minutes will burn just 112 calories, while the same person will burn 335 calories in 30 minutes while using an elliptical machine. When you add dumbbell exercises to circuit training, however, you can burn more calories during your strength workout and boost your metabolism, which helps burn calories at a higher rate after the workout. Circuit training involves a series of exercises performing consecutively, with little or no rest between activities.
For optimal health, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults perform 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise and two days of weight training each week. Although you might be tempted to use your dumbbells every day, remember that muscles need time -- typically 48 hours -- to heal between workouts. However, you can use your dumbbells daily if you target different muscle groups each day. For example, target your chest and triceps on one day and your legs the next day.
Weight Training Benefits
Regular weight training does more than just give you chiseled muscles to boost your self-confidence when you're wearing a bikini. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, weight training can offer stronger bones, a healthy heart, improved balance, better control over your weight, improved mental health and a reduction in the symptoms of such medical conditions as arthritis, osteoporosis and depression.
- MayoClinic.com: Weight Training: Improve Your Muscular Fitness
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Why Strength Training
- ExRx.net: Dumbbell Curl
- ExRx.net: Dumbbell Triceps Extension
- ExRx.net: Dumbbell Shoulder Press
- ExRx.net: Dumbbell Fly
- Harvard Medical School: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- ExRx.net: Dumbbell Lunge
- ExRx.net: Dumbbell Squat
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.