Weight lifting with dumbbells is often associated with body builders who want to bulk up. However, dumbbell exercises can help you lose weight without necessarily beefing you up. Through the use of dumbbells, you can enhance your workout and build muscle. The more muscle fibers you have, the more fat you will burn during the course of a day. With increased fat loss and reduced caloric intake you can lose weight while also toning your muscles with dumbbell exercises. So dust off those dumbbells and start using them for something more useful than a door stopper.
Dumbbells, two weights connected by a bar that is used as a handle, are used for a variety of exercises. They can weigh anywhere from one to 150 pounds. The best way to master the correct technique of working out with dumbbells is to first practice the motion without them. For example, if you want to work out your legs with dumbbells, first master the squat motion and then add in the dumbbells when you feel comfortable. Also, choose a weight appropriate for you. Start out with dumbbells that are five pounds and slowly go higher until you find the right weight. You'll know you've found the right weight when you can barely finish your set of repetitions. As you are finishing your last rep, your engaged muscles will be fatigued to the point of exhaustion. You should be able to finish the last rep without shaking or twitching, but it will be a full effort to execute the last rep.
The two main muscle groups found in your arm are your triceps, located in the back of your upper arms, and your biceps, located in the front of your upper arms. One triceps exercise using dumbbells is the French press. For this exercise, lay flat on your back on a bench. Hold two dumbbells behind your head, then slowly extend your arms above you and then return your arms back behind your head. Additional exercises for the triceps is overhead extensions and kickbacks.
Exercises that engage your biceps are seated bicep curls, hammer curls and preacher curls. To perform a seated bicep curl sit with your back against a backrest so that your shoulders, head and butt make contact with the bench and your feet are firmly on the ground. Grasp a dumbbell in each of your hands. Your arms should be at your sides, close to your body and the palms should be facing forward. Exhale and slowly bend at your elbows brining the dumbbells toward your shoulders. As you inhale straighten your elbows and lower the dumbbells back to the starting position in a slow, controlled manner.
Chest, Abs and Back
The other parts of your upper body to exercise with dumbbells are the chest, abdominals and back. Exercises for your chest can mostly be done on the back, and involve starting with the weights at your side (or on your chest) and pushing up toward the ceiling. Examples of these types of exercises are chest presses and chest flies. An effective dumbbell exercise for your abdominals is called the overhead crunch. This exercise can be done on the floor or also on a fitness ball. To perform the exercise on a fitness ball, lie back on the ball and hold the dumbbell out behind your head. Curl shoulders up while keeping your arms in the same position. Pause as you reach the peak of your curl and lower back down in a slow manner to the start position. You can also work your abdominals by doing chest and arm dumbbell exercises while on an exercise ball. Several moves to work out your back and shoulders include dead lifts, single arm rows and shrugs.
The main muscles in your legs are your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps and adductors. The benefits of working out your legs using dumbbells is the fact that you can use common exercises such as lunges, squats and calf raises. Incorporate dumbbells into your lunge, squat and calf raises by choosing an appropriate dumbbell weight and holding one dumbbell in each hand as you perform the exercises. Weight training works best when you load weight on the muscle and perform a set number of repetitions, usually somewhere between 12 and 15 reps. Use the heaviest weight you can for your leg exercises and increase the amount of the dumbbell weight if the reps are too easy. You've got the right amount of weight if the last rep is nearly impossible to complete.
- Bodybuilding.com: Exercise Guides – Dumbbell Exercises
- Exercise.com: Dumbbell Basics
- Kidport.com: Arm Muscles
- Fitness Magazine: Anatomy of Your Leg Muscles
- Brian Mac Sports Coach: Weight Training
- American Council on Exercise: Seated Dumbbell Bicep Curl
- Men's Fitness: Advanced Abs Exercises
- Chicago Tribune: Don't Be a Dumbbell: Learn How to Use One
Danielle Clark has been a writer since 2009, specializing in environmental and health and fitness topics. She has contributed to magazines and several online publications. Clark holds a Bachelor of Science in ecology and environmental science.