Dumbbells are an easy and convenient piece of equipment that you can use at home, in your office on your lunch break or anywhere you have time to fit in some exercise. Many exercises work well with small dumbbells that burn calories and build muscle at the same time. Mix and match your favorites to create a physique you'll be excited to show off.
Choosing a Set of Dumbbells
You aren't going to get much out of a dumbbell workout if your set is too heavy or too light. Too much weight could result in injury, but too little won't produce the results you want to see. When choosing dumbbells, the right pound load allows you to complete one set of 12 repetitions with good form. The final two or three repetitions might be difficult, however. If this is too hard, you need lighter dumbbells. If it’s too easy, move up a size. As you get stronger and build endurance, you'll be able to progress to heavier dumbbells, which keeps your progress on track.
A strong upper body makes many day-to-day tasks, such as lifting groceries or pushing the lawnmower, easier to do. It also makes exercise easier. Moves that work your arms, chest, upper back and shoulders are ideal for building muscle mass on top. Simple exercises that require dumbbells include the dumbbell bench press, arm raises, biceps curls, triceps extensions, dumbbell flyes and dumbbell rows.
Hips, legs and a lower back that are strong and healthy reduce the risk of injury during exercise and make walking, climbing stairs and bending down easier. There aren't many exercises you can do directly with dumbbells since you can't really hold them with your hips, back or legs. However, holding dumbbells while you do lower-body moves increases your total body weight, which challenges the muscles to a greater degree. Hold a set of dumbbells while doing squats, lunges and stepping moves to build strong muscles in your thighs, calves, hips, buttocks and back.
MayoClinic.com suggests doing two or three 20- to 30-minute strength-training sessions each week, making sure to include moves that target each of your major muscle groups. Include at least one set of 12 repetitions of each dumbbell exercise you include in your routine and add sets as you get stronger. At this rate, you'll start seeing results in just a few weeks. Allow a day of rest between each strength-training session, which allows your muscles time to repair and recover so they get bigger and stronger. Before long, you'll be ready to show off your muscles in skinny jeans and a tank top.
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.