There's no denying that it can be intimidating walking into the free weights section of the gym for the first time. The seasoned veterans are there pumping iron and, they know exactly what they are doing. You look at the stack of dumbbells lining the wall and wonder what in the world you are supposed to do with those things. No need to worry. Dumbbell exercises are ideal for beginners starting a new strength-training program.
Importance of Form
Before even worrying about how much weight you need to be lifting, make sure you are familiar with the correct form or each exercise you choose to include in your workout program. Performing exercises with proper form ensures you will get the most out of your workouts and drastically reduce your risk for developing muscular imbalances and injuries. Once you feel confident you have the correct form mastered, go ahead and begin working with your dumbbells. Choose a weight that is heavy enough that it challenges you to complete 15 to 20 repetitions of an exercise with proper form. The final two to three reps of each set should force you to struggle. If not, move to a heavier dumbbell.
Dumbbells are a great way for beginners to start toning and sculpting their upper body. Include exercises that target the upper back and shoulders such as bent-over rows, reverse flyes, shoulder shrugs, shoulder presses, lateral raises, upright rows and forward raises. Also try adding exercises that target the chest and arms such as chest presses, chest flyes, incline presses, biceps curls, hammer curls, triceps extensions and triceps kickbacks.
There really are an endless number of lower-body exercises you can do using dumbbells. To begin, try adding exercises such as squats, lunges, walking lunges, step ups, deadlifts, sumo squats, calf raises and single leg calf raises to your lower-body workouts. Remember form comes first, so avoid reaching for the heavy dumbbells until you are confident your form is correct. Perform two to three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions for these exercises.
Sample Full-Body Workout
You can either choose to perform full-body workouts or split your workout into upper-body and lower-body programs. The choice is completely yours. But make sure you give yourself at least 24 hours before working the same muscle groups again. For example, perform your full-body workouts on nonconsecutive days. An example of a full-body workout routine can include: squats, bent-over row, reverse lunges, chest press, sumo squats, lateral raises, deadlifts, biceps curls, lateral lunges, triceps kickbacks and finishing off with single leg calf raises.
- Strength Training Anatomy (Second Edition); Frederic Delavier
- NSCA's Essentials of Personal Training (Fourth Edition); National Strength and Conditioning Association
Kristy Lee Wilson is a former Cirque du Soleil performer, Sharecare fitness expert, bestselling author, international speaker, certified personal trainer and youth fitness specialist. An elite athlete from a very young age, Wilson's ultimate mission is to motivate, inspire and educate as many people as possible to live life to their fullest potential.