Movement is the key to weight loss. Running, swimming -- boosting your heart rate with aerobic activity -- will shed pounds, but the benefits stop when you hit the couch. To burn calories while hanging out by the television, you'll need something stronger -- muscle power. Luckily, you don't need an expensive gym membership, just a set of light to medium dumbbells. But get your doctor's OK before doing calorie burning dumbbell exercises.
Most dumbbell exercises focus on your upper body -- triceps, delts and pecs, or the muscles of your shoulders and chest. Convert flabby chest tissue to lean muscle and ramp up a sluggish metabolism. As you do, your body will burn calories. For a complete routine, include an exercise targeting the whole body, such as dumbbell swings. To get the most out your workout, play with your weight limits. Try different sizes until the muscle groups you’re working feel tight. This should happen by the 10th or 12th repetition. Increase your weight limit as your body adjusts.
One-Armed Dumbbell Row
Tighten your lats as you burn calories with one-armed dumbbell rows. If you don't have a workout bench, find a bench around your house or get on all fours. Just remember to keep your chest parallel to the ground. You'll need to grab one weight, place it your right hand and hit the bench. Get your left knee and left hand on the bench, and keep your right side off. Tuck your right elbow in close to your body, pull the weight up and back, toward your hip. Tighten your abs to keep your back straight. When you feel your back contract, move the weight back to its starting position. Do enough sets to feel fatigue in the lat muscle.
Two-Arm Overhead Dumbbell Extension
Grab one dumbbell, grasping it firmly in the middle, and sit or stand with your legs shoulder-width apart for a set of two-arm overhead dumbbell extensions. This simple exercise targets your triceps, traps and delts, and even tones your abs, getting you ready for bathing suit season. Start with both of your hands around the dumbbell. Bring the weight up above and then behind your head, bending your elbows as your let the dumbbell hang. Take the weight back as far as comfortably possible before straightening your arms toward the ceiling. As the weight moves up, bring it forward, moving it to its starting position. Do enough sets until your triceps tire.
The dynamic dumbbell swing is a strength exercise that's a must-have add to your weight loss arsenal. This move, according to fitness experts Bob Anderson, Ed Burke and Jeff Galoway, tones most of your body's large muscle groups. Grab one dumbbell and stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Tighten your abs while raising the weight above your head. Squat and swing the weight forward, bringing it between your legs. Raise the weight as you rise into a standing position. Repeat this exercise until you feel too much tightness or fatigue.
Having studied at two top Midwestern universities, Catherine Field holds degrees in professional writing and patient safety. Writing since 2000, Field has worked with regional newspapers while publishing fiction online. She conducts medical communication research at a Midwestern medical institution and is slated to write a book based on her research findings.