Dumbbell hand-weight exercises may be done practically anywhere. The weights take up so little space and the exercises can be done in as small an area as a college dorm or a hotel room. Maintaining a fitness program with hand-weight exercises might mean the difference between enjoying hot summers in a tank top with toned muscles, or suffering the heat in a T-shirt. More importantly, these exercises help you build and keep your muscular strength, enhancing your ability to perform everyday tasks. Otherwise, you might one day find it difficult to carry your own grocery bags.
Squat with Shoulder Press
Hold a hand weight in each palm and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart for a squat and shoulder press combo.
Bend your arms to position the dumbbells adjacent to the side of each shoulder; your upper arms should be close to your rib cage.
Bend your legs and stick your buttocks out as you lower your pelvis into a squat position with your thighs nearly parallel to the floor. Contract your leg muscles to stand back up as you simultaneously press the dumbbells directly over your head, toning your legs and shoulders.
Lunge with Dumbbell Curl
Stand with your feet together and a hand weight in each palm. Straighten your arms along the sides of your body.
Step your right leg forward into a lunge, bending your elbows to curl each dumbbell toward your shoulders. You should be balancing on the toes of your left foot and your right thigh should be nearly parallel to the floor.
Push through your right heel to stand back up to the starting position while simultaneously lowering the dumbbells back to your side.
Repeat this series, lunging with your left leg to tone your butt, thighs and the front of your upper arms.
Place your feet wider than your shoulders then bend your legs into about one-third of a squat.
Hold a hand weight with one end in each palm then raise the dumbbell just over the top edge of your forehead. Your elbows should be bent and pointing to the side.
Contract your core muscles to stabilize your hips and pelvis. Bend toward your right side without moving your hips until you feel a stretch along the right side of your waist. Contract your oblique muscles along the left side of your waist, raising your trunk back to an upright position.
Bend toward the left side of your body. Contract the obliques on the right side of your waist, raising your trunk back to an upright position.
Continue to alternate Saxon bends on each side to tone the abdominal muscles along the sides of your torso.
Stand with your feet together and hold the bar of one dumbbell in your right hand. Raise the dumbbell above your head, keeping your upper arm close to your ears.
Bend your elbows to lower the dumbbell just below the top of your head. Contract your triceps muscles to straighten your arm back to the start position.
Complete about 15 repetitions on your right arm then switch arms to tone your left triceps.
- American College of Sports Medicine: Progression Models in Resistance Training for Adults; William J. Kraemer, Ph.D., et al.
- ExRx: Weight Training Guidelines
- Perform three sets of 15 or more repetitions for each hand-weight exercise. Increase the intensity by performing each exercise at a slightly faster or a slightly slower tempo. Write down your workouts to keep track of exercises, resistance, sets and reps.
- These hand-weight exercises will become easier to do as your body adapts and becomes more fit. Thus, this routine will no longer be sufficient to enhance your fitness. Incorporate different exercises every four weeks or use heavier hand-weights to continue to improve your physique.
Paula Quinene is an Expert/Talent, Writer and Content Evaluator for Demand Media, with more than 1,500 articles published primarily in health, fitness and nutrition. She has been an avid weight trainer and runner since 1988. She has worked in the fitness industry since 1990. She graduated with a Bachelor's in exercise science from the University of Oregon and continues to train clients as an ACSM-Certified Health Fitness Specialist.