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Training with nothing more than a pair of dumbbells may sound limiting but you can still get a very good workout using nothing more than a couple of hand weights. While working out in a well-equipped gym will give you greater exercise freedom and choice, ultimately, your muscles will feel the effect of a low-tech dumbbell workout as much as they would using state-of-the-art machines. A workout does not need to be complicated to be effective.
Before You Start
If you are new to exercise, check with your doctor before starting a new workout routine. Once you have the all-clear, start your workouts with a few minutes of light cardio, such as jogging or jumping rope, followed by some stretches for your upper body muscles to ensure you are properly warmed up. Perform two to four sets of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise. Adjust the weight so the last couple of reps are challenging but still doable in good form.
Chest and Back
Your chest and back are the largest muscles in your upper body. Work these muscles first in your workout when your energy and motivation are highest.
For your chest, perform floor presses. Lie on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and, with your arms vertical, hold the weights over your chest. Bend your arms and lower the weights until your elbows lightly touch the floor. Push back up and repeat.
To work your back muscles, perform one-armed dumbbell rows. With a dumbbell in one hand, bend forward from your waist and place your free hand on a knee-high chair or step. With your back flat and the weight hanging straight down from your shoulder, bend your arm and pull the weight up and into your ribs. Lower the weight and repeat. On completion, change arms.
Well-developed shoulders are a very masculine characteristic and specifically targeting your lateral or outer deltoid muscle will make your shoulders wider. Perform side lateral raises to build your lateral deltoids. With a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your arms by your sides. Keeping your elbows slightly bent but rigid, raise your arms up and out to the side to shoulder-level. Lower your arms back to your sides and repeat.
Of all the muscles in your body, your arms are probably the most regularly visible. Your biceps, located on the front of your upper arm, are probably the most well-known muscle in the body and your triceps, located on the back of your arm, are no less important.
Build your biceps with dumbbell curls. Stand with your arms by your side and a dumbbell in each hand. With your elbows tucked into your ribs, bend your arms and curl the weights up to your shoulders. Slowly lower the weights back to your side and repeat. Perform this exercise using an alternating arm action for variety.
To work your triceps, perform dumbbell lying triceps extensions. Lie on your back with a dumbbell in each hand and held directly over your shoulders. Keep your lower arms vertical and bend your arms to lower the weights down to your ears. Extend your arms and repeat.
The muscles of your midsection, referred to as your core, support and control the movements of your spine. Keeping these muscles in good shape may help prevent back pain and, combined with a healthy diet, will give you a flat, toned waistline.
To work your rectus abdominis, located on the front of your abdomen, perform weighted crunches. Lie on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell across your chest. Exhale and slowly lift your head and shoulders off the ground. Lower your head and shoulders back to the floor and repeat.
Tone and strengthen your oblique or waist muscles with dumbbell side bends. Stand with a dumbbell in one hand and, keeping your arm straight lean sideways and lower the weight down the outside of your leg. Return to the upright position and repeat. On completion, switch sides.