Did you know that there are over 200 exercises that you can do with strictly dumbbells? Dumbbells go back in history as one of the oldest forms of weight lifting, and even today they are considered more effective than barbells and resistance machines. This article will show you some of the best dumbbell exercises for arms, shoulders and back, and why you should add them to your workout.
Dumbbells Are King
There are lots of options you can choose from when it comes to weight lifting equipment. For example, if you want to focus on working out your chest, there are several ways you can approach this. You can use a barbell and do a standard bench press, you can use resistance machines, or you can use dumbbells on a flat bench. It may seem like your muscles are getting the same workout by performing one of these exercises, however, they’re not quite doing the same thing.
Better Balance and Coordination – As opposed to lifting one single weight, lifting two weights simultaneously requires not only your muscles, but your nervous system as well. Consisting of your spinal cord, brain, and motor and sensory nerves, a healthy nervous system will result in both better balance and coordination. These two aspects are important for daily activities using dumbbells will benefit them far greater than using machines or barbells.
Bigger Range Of Motion – Using dumbbells allows you to move with a wider range of motion that would that would not be possible if using other equipment. When performing bench presses with a barbell, your range of motion is limited by the bar touching your body. With dumbbells, you are able to move the weights around your body. This also helps develop joint mobility and muscle flexibility.
Muscle Consistency – Have you ever seen someone with one arm bigger than the other? Working out with dumbbells ensures that each arm is getting an even workout so you won’t have to worry about uneven arms. When using a barbell, your stronger side will naturally compensate for the weaker side, giving you an unbalanced workout.
Dumbbell Shoulder / Arm Exercises
Bent over dumbbell flys – Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Lean forward so your torso is parallel to the ground, holding the dumbbells straight down. With elbows slightly bent, raise your arms up to the side so that your elbows extend above the shoulders. Then return to starting position
Dumbbell upright rows – Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, and place the dumbbells straight down in front of you. With palms facing your body, pull the weight up in front of your body to the top of your chest. Keep your elbows slightly above the shoulders.
Rear deltoid raise – Lie face down on an incline bench, with dumbbells in each hand. Raise the dumbbells out the side and back, bending your arms light as they come up.
Standing bicep curls – With a shoulder-width apart stance, hold dumbbells in each arm. While keeping your back straight, raise both arms up and perform a curl until the weight is almost touching your chest. Slowly bring the weight back down, but don’t lock your arms.
Shoulder to shoulder press – Hold a dumbbell flat in your right hand, resting it on top of your shoulder. Then grab the top of the dumbbell with your left hand and press it overhead, bringing it down to your left shoulder. Repeat back and forth for reps with quick motions.
Triceps extension – Start off by holding a dumbbell in both hands, with your arms extended over your head. Lower the weight behind your head, and then return it to starting position.
Incline bicep curls – Sit at a 45 degree angle on an incline bench with dumbbells in each hand. Perform a curl simultaneously to full contraction. This is more difficult than a standard curl, so be careful with how much weight you use.
Spider curls – Lie face down on an incline bench while supporting your weight on your toes. Curl the weights up to full contraction without rocking back and forth. You can also alternate between left and right arm for single-arm spider curls.
Triceps kickback – Put your left knee on a bench and hold a dumbbell in your right hand. Lean with your left hand on the bench, and raise the dumbbell up from the ground. Keep your right arm still so only your triceps are getting worked .
Dumbbell Back Exercises
Wide rows – Grab a dumbbell in each hand and flex your knees and hips so you are in a squatting position. Lift both arms straight up without altering your knees and hips. Then lower your arms back down to the original position.
Bent over rows – While standing with knees slightly bent, lift the dumbbells up and bend your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to your body. Then lower them back down. Try to keep your back straight throughout the motion, as only your arms should move.
One arm row – Find something to lean on like a bench, while holding a dumbbell in your other arm. Lift the dumbbell up until your arm is parallel to your body, and lower it back down. Alternate to the next arm to workout the other side.
Deadlifts – Stand with feet shoulder width apart with dumbbells in each hand. Flex your knees and hips in order to lower the dumbbells down, and raise yourself up, focusing on your lower back. Performing deadlifts correctly is very important to prevent any injuries from occurring.
Back flys – Lie flat on a bench with your head facing the floor. With your hands and elbows at 90 degree angles, raise the dumbbells until your arms are parallel to the ground. Lower your arms back down slowly, and then repeat.
Heavy pants – While standing, reach down and grab a dumbbell just above one of your feet with the opposite hand. Lift the dumbbell up until you are standing up, and then lower it back down to your foot again.
A Few Pointers
Here are a few tips you may want to remember when doing these exercises, or working out in general. This will help avoid injuries and provide you with a more effective workout.
- Flex those muscles: Instead of simply going through the motion of an arm curl, focus on really flexing the biceps while curing the weight at the same time. This will give enhance your workout by a lot, and you should expect to see better results.
- Breathe correctly – Always exhale when you are pushing or pulling the weight, and inhale when releasing the force of the weight. This helps your body lift more weight, while making yourself less tense. If your breathing isn’t noticeable while lifting weights, start practicing now.
- Don’t over-do-it – Especially when lifting with dumbbells, it’s important that you don’t try to lift more than you can handle. This will cause you to use other muscles to compensate for the extra weight, and can lead to an injury. Start off with a lighter weight if you are doing a new exercise, and then add more weight as needed.
- It’s not a race – Take your time when going doing your reps. If you are going through the motions too quickly, chances are you are going to pull a muscle or something worse. When doing alternating arm workouts, it’s especially common to see this. Keep it in rhythm with your breathing to help give yourself a good pace.