If you’re not using dumbbells as part of your weekly workout routine, you should be. Despite their somewhat rudimentary design, these timeless tools remain fundamental to upper body strength training. Even the burliest bodybuilders and celebrities – who have legions of expensive equipment at their disposal – still incorporate dumbbell workouts on a frequent basis.
A set of dumbbells offers more variety than the equivalent weight in barbell form, and with no weight plates needed, you can get stuck in straight away. Plus, unlike their gym machine-based equivalents, the best dumbbell exercises recruit stabilising muscles and test your balance and control.
Scroll on for Fitness Equipment Cork's pick of the best dumbbell exercises for building muscle. There’s no time like the present, so get to work.
1. Goblet Squat
Goblet squats are perfect for all levels of fitness. They target glute's, and improve hip mobility. Stand with feet set wider than shoulder-width and hold a dumbbell with both hands in front of your chest. Sit back into a squat, then drive back up and repeat.
Stand with feet set wider than shoulder-width and hold a dumbbell with both hands in front of your chest. Sit back into a squat, then drive back up and repeat.
2. Bench Press
A dumbbell bench press will target those triceps and work the shoulder muscles as well. You will also require an exercise bench for this exercise. Here’s how to execute a dumbbell bench press:
- Lie back on a bench and hold a dumbbell in each hand
- Keep each arm bent to the side of each shoulder, palms facing upward
- Extend your elbows as you press the weights above your chest
- Keep going until your arms are straight above your chest, but don’t touch the weights to one another
- Bring the weights back down just past shoulder level
3. Shoulder Press
It’s important to have strong shoulders and this popular dumbbell exercise abides. Here is how to perform the shoulder press.
Stand upright holding a pair of dumbbells at either side. The dumbbells should be more or less even with your shoulders, your arms should be slightly bent, and your palms should be facing toward your body. Press upward and twist your wrists as you go so that your palms are facing forward by the time you reach the toes. Lift the weights directly over your shoulders until your arms are straight. Lower and repeat.
4. Bent over Row
Maximise the potential of free weights with this classic muscle-building exercise, which works the back and shoulders. The bent over row works the lats, shoulders, forearms, biceps, spinal erectors, hamstrings, glute's. Keep your core tight and your back straight as you row the weights up to your chest. Lower and repeat.
The lunge is a classic full body dumbbell workout. Try to stay controlled throughout the movement. Speed is not an issue on this dumbbell exercise, so take your time, keep your balance and squeeze at the top of the exercise. Perform the following steps and even try them at home:
Stand upright and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Hang your arms at either side with your palms facing inward and your feet a little less than shoulder-width apart. Take a long step forward with your leg of choice, bending at the knee until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Land on the heel and inhale as you descend. Return to the starting position as you exhale. Swap legs and repeat for a full rep.