Dumbbells, also known as hand weights, are, literally, handy pieces of equipment. They’re small enough to keep at home, yet versatile enough to afford you a total body workout. There are hundreds of dumbbell exercises to choose from, so you shouldn’t have a problem developing a circuit of hand-weight exercises that suits your needs.
Perform flyes to strengthen your chest muscles. Lie face up on a bench or the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the surface. Hold the dumbbells over your upper chest so your palms face each other. Extend your arms, but flex your elbows a bit and maintain that flex for the entire exercise. Inhale as you lower your arms to your sides, then exhale as you raise your arms back to the starting position.
Work your shoulders by doing front raises. Stand erect with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees flexed slightly. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing your body and your arms hanging at your sides. Exhale as you raise one dumbbell to shoulder-height, keeping your arm straight. Inhale as you return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise with the opposite arm to complete one repetition.
Target your back muscles with one-arm rows. Balance yourself using your left hand, with your left knee on a bench and your right foot on the floor. Balance your weight evenly among your three points of contact. Position your knees beneath your hips and your upper body parallel with the floor. Extend your right arm straight down and hold the dumbbell in your right hand with your palm facing the bench. Exhale as you lift the dumbbell diagonally to the right side of your midsection. Inhale as you lower the weight. Perform the desired number of reps, then reposition yourself and repeat the exercise on the opposite side.
Do hammer curls to firm your biceps. Stand erect with your feet hip-width apart and your knees flexed slightly. Hold the dumbbells with your arms extended at your sides and your palms facing your body. Exhale as you flex your elbow to lift one dumbbell to your shoulder. Keep your elbow close to your side. Inhale as you return the dumbbell to the starting position, then repeat the exercise with the opposite arm.
Assume the same position you took for the one-arm row, but hold the dumbbell directly below your shoulder, with your upper arm parallel to the floor, to perform a triceps kickback. Exhale as you flex your elbow and extend your arm backward until it’s horizontal. Inhale as you swing the dumbbell back to the starting position. Perform the desired number of reps, then reposition yourself and repeat the exercise on the opposite side.
Perform half squats to strengthen your thighs and glutes. Stand erect with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing your body and your arms hanging at your sides. Inhale as you bend your knees and lower your upper body until your thighs are about parallel with the floor. Keep your head up and your lower back arched only slightly. Exhale as you rise to the starting position.
Sit on a chair, bench or exercise ball with your feet flat on the floor and roughly 12-inches apart, to work your calves. Hold a pair of dumbbells in front of you, with your palms facing each other, then place the weights on top of your lower thighs. Exhale as you flex the balls of your feet and lift your heels off the floor. Inhale as you return to the starting position.
- Bodybuilding Anatomy; Nick Evans
- Anatomy of Exercise; Pat Manocchia
- Move about twice as slow when you’re returning the weights to the starting position.
- Perform 15 repetitions of each exercise, or work up to that level.
- If you can’t move a dumbbell smoothly, with a controlled motion, the weight is probably too heavy for you and could cause an injury. Select a lighter weight.
- Consult a physician before starting a weight training routine.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.