Dumbbell Exercises to Build Strength at Home
If you're like plenty of other people right now, you might be stuck working out at home. Maybe this is new for you and you're starting to miss your gym workouts. Maybe you're establishing a whole new workout routine.
While we don't all have space or money for a full home gym, almost anyone can make room for a small set of dumbbells that can give them a decent full-body workout at home.
Dumbbell workouts are functional, great for beginners or seasoned exercisers, and easy to bring with you anywhere. If you're looking for a great workout with only dumbbells, keep reading for 10 exercises that you can do at home.
The lower body can be hard to hit with light weights, especially if you're a seasoned weightlifter. The key to using dumbbells here is to find movements that target more specific areas. You might not be able to get to your ideal squatting or deadlifting weight, but you can still get a good burn.
1. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
Deadlifts aren't just for the barbells anymore. If you want an exercise that improves your functional strength, your core, and your lower body, the single-leg deadlift is a real winner.
For this, hold your dumbbells (beginners can start with 1) with an overhand grip in front of your thighs. Arms should be fully extended. The back should be straight. One leg should lift off of the ground completely, though beginners can keep toes trailing for stability.
Hinge at the hips, lower your torso towards the ground, and let the back leg reach up towards the sky if it's not stabilizing you. Pause at the bottom of the motion and reverse the movement, squeezing glutes at the top. Repeat on both sides.
2. Goblet Squats
Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart (similar to the sumo squat position). Hold your dumbbell vertically with the base of your hands underneath the round edge of the dumbbell and your fingers over it around chest level.
Sink down into a squat, making sure that your knees don't go past your toes and come back up. Repeat as necessary.
3. Curtsy Lunges
Curtsy lunges are great for isolating difficult areas of the leg and glute.
Stand holding your dumbbells perched on your shoulders with feet hip-width apart. Bring one foot back for a lunge, but bring it into a "curtsy" position, behind and slightly to the side of the dominant leg. Be careful to not let the front knee go past the front foot.
Repeat several times on each side. Doing all of the repetitions per side at once is a great burnout.
A good ending move, jump squats are made better with weight. If you're new to them, do them without dumbbells. If not, start light and go from there.
Hold your dumbbells in a comfortable position. The goblet squat position works well for this, as does the shoulder position. Sit down into a proper squat and then explode up with your legs. Land softly back into your squat and repeat. This is another great burnout move.
Many people struggle with building up that core muscle. While many core exercises are great without any added weight, it's sometimes helpful to add a dumbbell to add some resistance. If you're not getting enough out of your ab workouts and you're seeking a toned tummy, try some of these.
Bonus: Some of the upper and lower body exercises here also work that core!
5. Weighted Russian Twists
Russian twists are amazing for the obliques.
Sit on the floor with your feet either touching the ground or slightly raised for the harder version. Hold your weight vertically by the handle around the chest level.
Lean back slightly until you feel resistance in your core and your body creates a V shape.
Twist your body, led by your shoulders, from one side to the other. The aim is to move quickly, but if you've never done this with weights, start slow.
Standing, hold one dumbbell by both round ends. As per the name, imagine it's an ax. Bring it up to shoulder level on your right side and twist your body, led by the weight, until it's hip level on the other side. Repeat on both sides.
The upper body can generally handle less weight than the lower body, especially when you're first starting. This makes dumbbells a great starting point and great for people who've been in the gym for a long time.
Try some of these dumbbell workouts for the chest, back, and arms.
7. Pushup or Plank Row
Get into a plank position with hands balanced on the handles of small weights. If your dumbbells aren't perfectly round, this is much easier. Beginners can start with only one weight and the other hand on the ground for support.
In this position, bring one arm up, bending at the elbow, so the dumbbell comes towards your chest. Then bring it back down. Repeat on the same side or either side, depending on difficulty. For a challenge, add a pushup between repetitions.
8. Dumbbell Press
Lay on the ground and bring both dumbbells to your chest, elbows out. Press straight up and bring them straight down in controlled movements. This is a classic.
9. Dumbbell Curl
Another classic, you'll start by holding your dumbbells in an underhand grip in front of your thighs. Slowly bring them up without letting your elbows spill forward.
These can be done one arm at a time with a heavier weight for better isolation.
10. Dumbbell Tricep Extension
Hold the dumbbell in a similar position to the goblet squat, but behind your back. The dumbbell should ideally be around the nape of your neck.
Slowly dip the dumbbell down and bring it back up. This is a tough exercise, so go lighter than you think that you have to.
Are These Dumbbell Workouts Tough Enough for You?
With these tips, you won't miss the gym while quarantined at home. Dumbbells are great for a good home workout. You can build strength at home with dumbbell workouts alone, especially if you're just starting.
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