You don’t have to leave the comfort of your home to tone up your entire body using just dumbbell weights. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults participate in muscle-strengthening exercises, such as weightlifting, that work all major muscle groups at least two times per week. To achieve maximum results and get that slim, defined look you desire, lift weights most days of the week in addition to performing aerobic exercises such as jogging, biking, swimming, powerwalking or using an elliptical machine for 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week. A study published in a 2003 edition of the “Journal of Physiological Anthropology and Applied Human Science” found that resistance training plus aerobic exercise decreases body fat more than just training aerobically.
Since Monday is the start of a new week and your energy levels are high, work your leg muscles after completing an aerobic workout of your choice. Begin your leg routine by holding light dumbbell weights and alternating wide-stance squats with narrow-stance squats. Perform wide-stance squats with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, and narrow-stance squats with your feet almost touching. Squat down until your thighs are almost parallel with the floor. Complete at least four sets of 15 repetitions for each exercise, without resting between sets, if possible. Finally, alternate lunges -- four sets of at least 15 repetitions for each leg -- with calf raises; don’t rest between sets if possible.
Train your chest muscles on Tuesday after completing your cardiovascular workout. While lying on your back or a weight bench, alternate performing dumbbell chest presses with dumbbell chest flies. Don’t rest between sets, if possible, and complete at least four sets of 15 repetitions for each exercise. Perform chest presses by lifting the weights directly above your chest and back down; to complete chest flyes, start with your arms perpendicular to your body, keep your arms fairly straight and lift the weights above your chest and back to your starting position. To finish your chest workout, alternate regular pushups with pushups on your knees; complete four sets of each exercise.
On Wednesday, perform the same exercises you did on Monday to work your leg muscles, but instead of doing cardiovascular exercise, complete abdominal exercises after your leg workout. Superset -- or alternate exercises without resting between sets -- during your entire abdominal workout, if you can. Choose ab exercises such as regular crunches holding dumbbell weights on your chest, straight-arm crunches, the bicycle, leg raises, oblique situps and jack-knife situps.
One day four of your five-day dumbbell workout routine, do 30 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise before you lift weights -- you’ll then work your back and shoulder muscles. Superset like you did with your abdominal routine by not resting between sets. If you have to take short rest periods, it’s OK. Alternate four sets of at least 15 repetitions of the following exercises with your dumbbells: bent-over reverse flyes, deadlifts, military presses, lateral raises and front raises.
On Friday, you’ll complete a cardiovascular exercise of your choice and work your arm muscles -- biceps and triceps. Change it up a bit. If you usually jog or walk, try biking, walking uphill or using an elliptical machine. For your dumbbell arm routine, alternate biceps and triceps exercises -- at least four sets of 15 reps for each exercise -- without resting between sets. Try front biceps curls, lateral biceps curls, triceps kickbacks and triceps extensions. Rest over the weekend, or at least on Saturday, to help your body recover from your week of intense workouts.
Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and has extensive experience working as a health writer and health educator. Her articles are published on various health, nutrition and fitness websites.