Dumbbell Workouts & Routines: Top 5 Dumbbell Exercises
Focusing on exercises with free weights such as dumbbells and barbells in your workout routine is one of the best ways to strengthen your body whilst also building muscle size and definition and burning fat.
Why Dumbbell Workouts Are Better For You
Training with free weights means that your body will need to use more muscles to stabilise itself and the weights that you are lifting, meaning greater gains in strength in your core and stabilising muscles as well as the prime movers and more work done and calories burnt overall compared to training with machines.
Barbells can often in be high demand in gyms, so lets take a look at some of the dumbbell alternatives. There are a number of dumbbell exercises to pick from which can be confusing to new gym goers. The best moves to focus on, are those which provide the greatest overall benefit in terms of strength, muscles exercises and work done. This will always be compound moves - multi joint movements that activate several muscles groups and usually have a large range of motion.
Top 5 Dumbbell Workouts & Exercises - The best exercise to give you results in the shortest time frame
1. Dumbbell Farmers Walk
The farmers walk is an exercise you might not have heard of before if you are a beginner. A farmers walk involves picking up a heavy object (in this case two dumbbells), and walking a set distance with it before setting it down again. As you start to use heavy weights you will really need to engage your core muscles, it is also awesome for working your legs, glutes, traps and arms - as well as your grip strength.
2. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift
The romanian deadlift is better than a full deadlift when working with dumbbells in my opinion, simply because of the awkwardness of achieving a good tight position at the floor with dumbbells compared to a barbell (perform full deadlifts with a bar). If you have never done them before, you do need to be very careful with form - the key is to utilise a good hip hinge with a tightly braced core rather than a bending your back which will mostly likely lead to injury.
Here's a good instructional video:
3. Dumbbell Presses - Bench or overhead
Bench - All in one exercise that when done properly will primarily target your chest, front deltoids and triceps, but also your core and even traps and glutes as you get to heavier weights and you need to keep your whole body tight. This is a movement that every one should be doing and has great aesthetic
benefits for both men and women.
Overhead - Another multi joint move targetting the front, side and rear deltoids in your shoulders, your triceps, and your core. These can be done either standing for more core activation or seated, where it is easier to lift more weight and focus more on the shoulders.
4. Dumbbell One Legged Squats
It can be difficult to load your legs sufficiently for squats with dumbbells, and even if you do have access to heavier dumbbells, grip is likely to be the limiting factor before your leg strength. This is why one legged squats can be very useful when training with dumbbells - you can place more load on each leg by training it seperately from the other. Hold the dumbbells at your sides, place one leg behind you on a bench, and squat down with the other.
5. Dumbbell One arm Rows
These are superior to the bicep curls you will often see most people on the gym floor performing, and this is because they will hit your lats, upper back and traps as well as your biceps. Keep your core tight and don't cheat the weight up to properly work out your back.
I was very tempted to include dumbbell clean and presses and dumbbell snatches in this list, and they were only ommitted because their technical nature means that they are trickier to pick up, and might not be suitable for quite a few people initially.
These two full body exercises are fantastic for adding explosiveness and power into your training, and will transfer very well to athletic performance. If you have the time to master them, they can be the most effective dumbbell exercises of them all.
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