If you don’t know how to workout with dumbbells, you are truly missing out on a great way get in shape, yet a way that requires very little exercise equipment. In fact, if you had a proper set of dumbbells, you could stay in shape for the rest of your life without owning a single additional piece of exercise equipment! This guide will help you to get the most out of your dumbbell workouts by teaching you how to workout with dumbbells in the most safe and effective manner…..
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Use Proper Form
As with all exercise-related activities, doing it right is the very first priority. Failure to properly do your dumbbell exercises could result in:
- A lack of progress
- Wasted time and energy
Since dumbbell exercises are normally done either standing up, or sitting/laying on a bench of some kind, you are 100% in control of the movement, which, of course, is the whole point. However, without an exercise machine to guide your body in the ranges of motion that are necessary for any given exercise, it is very easy to get sloppy when you start to get tired.
In order to make sure that you understand exactly how to do any given exercise properly, simply do it with very little weight in order to teach yourself the movement. Once you are sure that you know how to sit/stand/lay down while performing the actual range of motion needed for each exercise, then you can graduate up to more challenging weights.
Also, remember that your “core” muscles are a large part of your ability to stabilize your body when exercising. One of the secrets of how to workout with dumbbells effectively is to always use your abdominal and lower back muscles to “tighten up” and stabilize your body before and during every single exercise.
Do Effective Exercises
When it comes to exercise of any kind, quality always trumps quantity! If you have grabbed 10 dumbbell exercises from the latest edition of some fitness magazine, and you intend to incorporate all 10 of them into a 15 minute workout, you’re already on the wrong path.
There is no way that you are going to provide enough stimulus to any of your muscles or connective tissues if you rush through a large list of exercises rather than focusing on a few powerful movements, and taking the time to do those movements effectively.
With very few exceptions, there aren’t very many “bad” exercises. As a general rule, any exercise is better than no exercise. However, people who have been on and off the fitness or weight loss bandwagon will attest to the fact that the number one reason for a lack of follow-through on their program is because they weren’t seeing enough results to keep them motivated to continue.
That will also be your fate if you don’t make very good use of your exercise time every day. Choose exercises that are very effective for whichever area of your body that you are targeting, but don’t fine-tune the effort so much that you need to do 50 different exercises each time you workout.
Use a Challenging Weight
Okay, it’s time to ‘fess up! Are you one of those people at the gym who only ever picks up the multi-colored dumbbells that weigh anywhere from 3 to 8 pounds? We used to call those the Crayola Dumbbells when I worked at a gym because they would only be challenging weights if you were still a child!
Now, I’m not talking across the board here, because there are some dumbbell isolation exercises that can only be done with a small amount of weight. However, as a general rule, if you are an able-bodied adult male or female human being, you should be able to do most of your exercises with weight that is more challenging than the Crayola Dumbbells.
Going back to what I said earlier about stabilizing your core whenever you exercise, this will definitely come into play once you start using some challenging weights. Especially when you are doing movements where you are sitting or standing up, you will need to really flex those abdominal and lower back muscles in order to keep your body from moving while you perform exercises with heavier weights.
Modify Your Routine
You could have the best dumbbell workout routine ever known to mankind, but your body will still get used to it eventually. Once your body has adapted to your routine, you will need to change it if you want to continue to see results. That does not necessarily mean that you need to do more repetitions of each exercise, or that you need to use heavier weights, although those are both ways of modifying your routine.
Other methods include:
- Change the order that you do your exercises in
- Change the exercises themselves for different movements that target the same areas of your body
- Modify the speed at which you do your entire workout (more or less rest time in between exercises)
- Modify the speed at which you do individual exercises (more or less speed with which you actually move the dumbbells)
- Do your workout at a different time of day (different energy levels)
If you want to know how to workout with dumbbells in a way that will guarantee maximum results from both a strength/weight loss point of view, as well as an overall health point of view, becoming unbalanced is the way to go!
Basically what is meant by “becoming unbalanced” is that you take your body outside of its normal comfort zone of solid surfaces, and do your exercises in ways that will add more core training to your workout, thus making it more challenging, and burning more calories. There are numerous methods for doing this, and they include doing the same exercises that you would be doing anyway, only to become unstable you do the exercises:
- On one foot
- On a wobble board
- On an exercise ball
- On a Bosu ball
In each of the conditions listed above, your body is forced to both consciously as well as unconsciously recruit the use of muscles and connective tissues that would never have been used during more “traditional” exercises. To use myself as an example, the hardest muscle for me to “shock” into growth is my biceps. They are already fairly well developed, but if I want to take them to the next level, I really have to beat on them hard.
One day I decided to do a standard Alternating Dumbbell Bicep Curl on one foot instead of two, and for 3 days afterwards I couldn’t move my arms without feeling a healthy level of soreness from that workout. That is the power of becoming unstable!
Dumbbell exercises are more effective than exercise machines in almost every instance, so the next time you are at the gym, try out some of the techniques that you just learned. Alternatively, you could grab your own set of dumbbells and get a great workout without ever having to leave your house!