Just because you’re at home and not at the gym doesn’t mean you can’t get a great workout. Even if you only have a few small hand weights in your hall closet, you can still get a great burn and challenge your muscles. Whether you want to work upper body, abs or lower body, you can target any muscle group without having to bounce from machine to machine. And because you’re at home, you can even do them in your pajamas and no one will care.
If you have a set of small weights at home, getting a great upper-body workout will be a cinch. With a variety of moves to choose from, you can tone up your arms, chest, back and shoulders in no time. To make the most of your time, try exercises that incorporate more than one muscle group. One of the most effective is the dumbbell row, which works the back, biceps, rear shoulder and core. As one of "Fitness" magazine’s key at-home exercises, it’s a perfect way to maximize both muscles and minutes. Because you’ll only have small weights, however, it may be more challenging to get a good burn. If that’s your case, aim for higher reps in order to increase the muscle’s stamina and endurance.
When it comes to lower-body work, it’s hard to beat the basic squat. By focusing on proper form, you can enjoy a comprehensive lower-body set that works the hamstrings, glutes, quads and core. The key, though, is proper form. With your weights either on your shoulders or at your sides, go slowly through the squatting motion, stopping when your knees line up with your toes and then return (slowly) to the standing position. Be sure to keep good posture and a straight back, and you’ll get great results.
Abs and Core
Some of the most effective belly-busting workout moves can be done with small weights at home. According to "Shape" magazine, core exercises should be performed at least twice a week with two sets of each exercise. Adding dumbbells to a few of the most common core exercises can add extra intensity and get you faster results. Consider adding hand weights to side planks by holding one in the hand closest to the ceiling as you maintain the position, or challenge yourself to do normal crunches with dumbbells held at your chest.
The best strength moves are the ones that bring it all together for maximized time and effort. When looking to add combination moves to your home strength routine, look no further than the one-arm dumbbell snatch, which incorporates the arms and entire lower body. As one of competitor.com’s most efficient strength moves, the one-arm dumbbell snatch also gives you a way to improve the coordination between your upper and lower body by forcing them to work together.
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in sports information, Jill Lee served for 10 years as a magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Also a published author, Lee now works as a professional writer and editor focusing on fitness, sports and careers.