If you want to save time and burn more calories when working out, do compound exercises that target multiple body parts instead of one. This full-body approach will also make you get stronger, move better and increase your muscle definition, says the IDEA Fitness Journal. Strength training with dumbbells is easy to learn and to perform because of the dumbbells' balance, weight and shape. You can train in less than half an hour and still have time to stretch, shower and go do your favorite activities.
The squat press works all of your lower body muscles, shoulders and arms. Your core muscles, including your abs and deep spine muscles, also work to maintain your balance and posture. Stand with your legs about shoulder-width distance apart and hold a 15-pound dumbbell in each hand near your shoulders with your elbows close to your ribs. Squat down as low as you can with your torso upright. Exhale and stand straight up, pressing the weights overhead at the same time. Do two to three sets of eight to 10 reps. You may also do this exercise with one dumbbell.
Lunge Curl Press
The lunge curl press also works the lower body and upper body at the same time. Step forward with one leg and lunge straight down while holding a 15-pound dumbbell in each hand by your sides. As you come up, curl and then press the dumbbells overhead at the same time. Do two to three sets of eight to 10 reps per leg. To add some variety to your lunges, you may lunge to the side or step back behind you instead of lunging forward.
Step-up and Press
The step-up and press requires balance and stability while you move your body up and down. Use a stack of steps or a similarly sturdy platform that is between two to three feet high. Hold a 10-pound dumbbell in each hand by your sides and stand in front of the steps with your feet together. Step onto the step and push yourself up onto it. Curl and press the dumbbells overhead and bring your opposite knee toward your ribs at the same time. Carefully step down and lower the weights to the starting position. Do two to three sets of six to eight reps per leg.
Shoulder Press With Twist
You can add a little twist in your compound workout by turning your torso and hip when you lift. This works your shoulders, core and hip at the same time and improves your balance as well as your upper and lower body coordination. Start in the squat press position and press the dumbbells over your head. Turn your torso to your right and pivot your left hip and foot at the same time. As you lower the weights to your shoulders, return your body to standing position. In the next rep, turn to the left and pivot your right hip and foot. Do two to three sets of eight to 10 reps total.
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Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.