When you think about dumbbell exercises, the one that most commonly comes to mind is biceps curls. However, dumbbells are not just for the biceps. Their small size and varying weights allow for exercise versatility. By incorporating them into your exercise routine, you are able to add resistance and increase muscle strength.
Arm and Shoulder Workouts
In addition to biceps curls, dumbbells are effective for exercises targeting the triceps, forearms, wrists, chest and shoulders. Add dumbbells to a triceps kickback exercise for additional resistance. Small dumbbells are an effective addition to wrist curl exercises. Used in place of a barbell, dumbbells allow for individual arm isolation in the bench press. This allows you to make sure each side works out evenly and effectively.
When using a stability ball to engage your core abdominal muscles, dumbbells can offer additional resistance. Performing exercises such as the dumbbell fly for the chest, the dumbbell press for the chest and shoulders and the overhead triceps extension on a stability ball engages more muscle involvement. The additional weight provides resistance and increases abdominal muscle engagement as you focus on maintaining balance. For the stability ball dumbbell fly, sit on the stability ball with your feet on the floor and the dumbbells in your hands. Begin walking your feet outward and rolling your back down the ball until your upper back and shoulders are resting on the ball. Bend your knees and align your torso parallel to the floor. From this position, perform a traditional dumbbell fly. Make sure to engage your core muscles to maintain balance.
Dumbbells held in the hands add resistance to exercises such as squats and calf raises. For calf raises, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your side. Hold the dumbbells in your hands with your palms facing toward your body. As you exhale, raise your heels off the floor until you feel a stretch in your calves. Hold this stretch for a few seconds before lowering your heel to the floor. While traditional calf raises and squats use your body weight for resistance, the dumbbells increase the amount of weight lifted.
Before beginning any new exercise program, consult your physician. This is especially true if you suffer from medical conditions or joint injuries. Begin any dumbbell exercise program with the lowest possible weight. Once you are able to perform regular exercise repetitions comfortably with one weight, progress to the next dumbbell weight. If using a stability ball, make sure you are comfortable with the ball and balancing before adding dumbbells.
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