You don’t need all of the fancy gym equipment to get a great workout at home. (Tweet this) With a few sets of dumbbells, or a set of SelectTech dumbbells from Bowflex, you can accomplish just as much as someone going to an expensive commercial gym. These SelectTech Dumbbells are seriously awesome too. You get one set of dumbbells that can replace up to 17 pair of dumbbells and they take up a fraction of the space. Stay tuned for a review on the set I recently picked up.
Below is my list of the 10 best dumbbell exercises, I have covered all of the muscle groups so with just these exercises you could get your full workout in.
Dumbbell Lateral Pullover
The Dumbbell Lateral Pullover has been called the squat for the upper body, it is a great exercise that will work your laterals and build overall upper body strength. To target the laterals more than the pectorals lay perpendicular to a bench and hold a dumbbell with your hands cupped and palms facing up. As you lower the dumbbell overhead as far back as you can reach, simultaneously lower your hips a bit to maximize the stretch in your laterals. Next Squeeze your laterals as you pull the dumbbell back up over your body.
Dumbbell Lateral Row
The Dumbbell Lateral Row is another great exercise to develop the laterals. I prefer this style with both feet on the ground vs having one knee on the bench since it puts less strain on the hip. With feet shoulder width apart and one hand on a bench; or chair, extend your other hand with a dumbbell out in front of your chest and a little toward the bench, as you squeeze your lateral muscle on the side with the dumbbell pull your elbow up until it is as far behind your body as you can get it. Keep your elbow tight to your body and squeeze your lateral before slowly lowering the weight back to the starting position. If you are having trouble targeting the lateral or you find you are getting lots of strain in your forearm and bicep, think of the exercise as pulling your elbow back and not the weight.
Flat Top Dumbbell Curl
The Flat Top Dumbbell Curl is a great bicep finisher for at the end of your bicep training. Grab a dumbbell with your palms facing up and cupped underneath one end of the dumbbell. Now slowly and controlled squeeze your bicep as you raise the weight up and keep the top of the dumbbell flat, slowly lower the dumbbell as far as you can while keeping the dumbbell flat. By doing this you take the forearms out of the exercise and put more of the focus on the bicep.
Dumbbell Thrusters are a great full body workout, they have the benefits of a squat working the lower body and core and then the upper body workout with the press over head. With feet shoulder width apart and a dumbbell in both hands raise the dumbbells up to just above resting on your shoulders. Push your hips back and squat down until your quadriceps are parallel to the floor, drive your heels in to the ground as you stand up and press the dumbbells overhead. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the pressing position and start your next rep.
Dumbbell Chest Press
The Dumbbell Chest Press is one of the best exercises to target the pectoral muscles. If you don’t have a bench these can be done laying flat on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. If you happen to have an adjustable bench it can be raised to do incline chest presses to target the upper pectorals or lowered to below horizontal to target the lower pectoral muscles. To perform the chest press lay flat on your back with a dumbbell in either hand and arms extended out in front of you. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and down, squeeze your core as you lower the dumbbells down on either side to about chest height, keep your elbows in toward your body slightly to prevent shoulder pain. Now squeeze the pectoral muscles as you press the dumbbells back up to the starting position.
Dumbbell Tricep Kickback
The Dumbbell Tricep Kickback is a great triceps exercise that often gets overlooked. You will need to drop the weight down a bit but with the angle of the arm behind the body it allows a greater contraction on the triceps muscles. Keeping your back straight and knees slightly bent lean forward with your elbows bent at 90 degrees and at your sides. Now squeeze the triceps as you push the dumbbell behind your body until your forearm is parallel with the floor. Slowly lower the dumbbell back to the starting position.
Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press
The standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press is one of the most well known shoulder exercises and for good reason, it is very effective in working the shoulder muscles. The standing position also forces you to tighten your core muscles to stabilize the body as an added benefit. With your feet shoulder width apart and a dumbbell in either hand raise them up to just above resting on your shoulders. Keeping your core tight press the dumbbells up and slightly back as you squeeze your deltoid muscles. In a slow controlled manner lower the dumbbells while keeping the core tight and some tension on the deltoids.
Dumbbell Clean and Press
The Dumbbell Clean and Press is a great full body exercise, similar to the Dumbbell Thrusters, but requiring more focus on technique and it builds explosive power. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and the dumbbells in your hands as you stand up straight. Push your hips back and chest up as you lower the dumbbells to just below your knee level on either side of your body. Then in one explosive movement drive your heels in to the ground as you pull the dumbbells up to your chest, shrug your shoulders up and point your elbows forward. As soon as the dumbbells are at your chest drive through your heels again and press the dumbbells directly overhead and straighten your arms and legs. With some control return to the start position.
Dumbbell Lateral Raise
The dumbbell lateral raise is a good isolation exercise to target the middle deltoid. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a pair of dumbbells one in either hand, keep your back straight and your chin up. Slowly raise the dumbbells out to the side until your arm is parallel or just over parallel with the ground. Squeeze the deltoids when you get to the top and slowly under control lower the dumbbells back to your sides.
Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat
The Bulgarian Split Squat is a great lower body exercise, due to being a unilateral squat it places a greater focus on the quadriceps vs similar compound movements. To do the Bulgarian Split Squat grab a set of dumbbells one in each hand, stand far enough away from a bench; or chair, so that you can reach back with one leg and rest your toes on the bench. Now keeping your chest up, squat down putting focus on the quadricep of the foot planted on the ground, go down until your front leg forms a 90 degree angle and squeeze the quadricep as you push back to a straight leg position.
It’s amazing how good of a workout you can get with a few sets of dumbbells. What are your favorite dumbbell exercises? Will you be trying any of these in your next workout? Let me know in the comments below.