Dumbbell Routine for Beginners

Work your entire body using dumbbells.
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Getting that ripped body doesn't happen by accident; you need to add resistance to your workout to build and tone your muscles. Dumbbells help ease you into resistance training, giving you simple weight options as well as color choices if you need to coordinate with your new workout outfit.

Picking Dumbbells

When you're just starting out, you need some basic dumbbells. Go for a light set, such as between 3 and 5 pounds, as well as a heavier set, such as between 8 and 10 pounds. These weights add different levels of resistance as you work muscle groups throughout your body. Instead of going straight for the high-end dumbbells with removable weight plates and metal bars, go for inexpensive ones that have a no-slip covering. You work your grip when you use dumbbells, but a textured surface can help you hold on until your hand and forearm muscles get stronger.


Working your arms with dumbbells is a no-brainer -- pretty much any movement targets a muscle group in your arms. However, form is key to get the most out of your dumbbell routine. Hold your arms down by your sides with your elbows back slightly, then lift the dumbbells to your shoulders for biceps curls. Start with the 5-pound weights if you can. Grip one 3-pound weight by the end using both hands, then lift it above your head with your arms straight. Lower the weight behind your head, bending your elbows while keeping your upper arms still to target your triceps. Keeping your forearms sexy is as easy as getting in some wrist curls with 3-pound weights. Sit down and rest one forearm on your thigh, then lift and lower your hand, moving only your wrist. As a beginner, do one set of 10 repetitions of each exercise. Build up to two sets when you can, then increase the weight for each move.

Back and Shoulders

Get ready for tank-top season by adding back and shoulder moves to your dumbbell routine. You don't need cables for rows; just lean over at the waist with your arms hanging down, then pull your elbows behind your back and squeeze your shoulder blades. Use either the 3- or 5-pound weights. Pump up your shoulders with lateral raises by holding your arms by your sides and lifting them straight out to each side, up to shoulder level. Start with 3-pound weights on this move. Change it up with front raises -- same move, just in front of you instead of out to the sides.

Lower Body

Dumbbells aren't just for your arms. Make your squats and lunges harder by holding dumbbells during your movement. For squats, hold the dumbbells in front of your shoulders like the top of a biceps curl move, then perform your squat normally. Remember to keep your chest lifted so you don't use your back to compensate for the extra weight -- you want to keep the resistance in your thighs and tush. Hold the weights down by your sides as you step forward into lunges, keeping your back straight. When working your lower body, go for the heavier weights -- 8 or 10 pounds. Those large muscle groups can handle more resistance than the smaller muscles in your arms. Stick to one set of 10 or 12 repetitions when you first add dumbbells to your lower-body routine, but build back up to two or three sets.

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