Many women tend to shy away from lifting heavy weights. Maybe you don't want bulky muscles or you want to avoid muscle soreness. While 15-pound dumbbells make great doorstops, you might want to walk over and pick them up. Instead of doing 20 biceps curls with a couple of 2- to 5-pound weights, why not do 10 repetitions with 15-pound weights? Lifting heavier weights will increase your muscle strength and further define your already sexy, sculpted arms, chest and upper back. Gradually work your way up to the 15-pound dumbbells to avoid hurting yourself.
Shrug It Off
Strong, sculpted back muscles look fantastic in a sleeveless top or evening dress. You can get a lean, sculpted upper back and shoulders just by shrugging. The trapezius muscles that extend across your shoulder blades from the back of your skull pull your shoulder blades down and back. When these muscles are strong, you stand up taller and look leaner. Grab two 15-pound dumbbells. Hold them pointed toward your hips. Lift your shoulders upward toward your ears in a shrug. Hold the shrug for five seconds and then relax. Do 10 repetitions of this exercise.
Stronger, Flatter Abs
Any exercise that can help make your belly flatter and stronger is useful, right? Take a 15-pound dumbbell in each hand and stand up straight. Hold your arms straight out in front of your chest at shoulder height. Take a giant step forward on one foot as you squeeze your abs tight. Lower your body toward the floor as you bend your knees but don't touch the floor with your knee. Still holding the dumbbells straight out in front of your body twist from your waist to the right and then back to the center. Twist to the left and then back to the center. Try to do 10 repetitions, if you can.
If you've got them, you hate them. Stop searching through your closet for a long sleeve blouse to cover the loose, flabby muscles on the back of your upper arm, inconsiderately called batwings, and grab some 15-pound dumbbells instead. The triceps muscle on the back of your arm is notoriously difficult to tame and train. Dumbbell exercises are useful to help firm up those flaps. Do your tricep kickbacks by holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms pointed toward your body. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and lean forward. Bend your elbows until your upper arm is parallel to the floor. Straighten out your arms from the elbow straight behind your back. Return your arms to the elbows-bent position. Do 10 repetitions.
Muscle soreness is likely to hit you the day after you do a new exercise or do more vigorous exercise than you normally do. Delayed onset muscle soreness is common after exercise. Tiny microscopic tears happen in your muscle when you stretch your muscles in a way you haven't done before. You can reduce the soreness by warming up with some light aerobic exercise and stretch your muscles before lifting dumbbells. Cool down after your workout by walking and then by stretching again to help remove lactic acid and other toxins in your muscles that may contribute to soreness.
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.