If you want to gain muscle, build strength, and improve your athletic prowess, you can’t go wrong with dumbbell training.
For many, dumbbells are the gold standard for free-weight strength training. There are so many benefits of following a dumbbell workout plan: they’re versatile, span a huge range of resistance for every fitness level, and can be incorporated in anything from strength training to cardio!
There’s a lot of stuff that you can do with these handy and handheld workout tools, so let’s walk through the basics of dumbbell weight training.
We’ll also take a look at a weekly workout plan that will allow you to target every muscle group in your body using nothing but weights!
Strength Training 101
As you probably know, strength training is crucial for anyone looking to improve their body composition and build foundational strength. As an added bonus, building muscle also lends itself well to any weight loss goals you may have since muscle burns more calories than fat tissue. In fact, it can be so effective that studies show each pound of muscle can burn an additional 13-99 extra calories every day! [*]
Lifting weights is the cornerstone for strength training, and dumbbells are incredibly versatile for this purpose. They’re more easily accessible than other forms of weight training, especially if you’re working out from home. They’re also “free weights,” meaning that your path of motion isn’t restricted, which is great for engaging more of your body and forcing coordination and stability.
You can also use dumbbells in a variety of ways from performing compound, whole-body movements to targeting isolated muscle groups. Essentially, for any resistance training move you’d like to perform or any muscle group you’d like to focus on, there’s a comparable exercise you can perform with these handheld weights!
Some key things to keep in mind as you begin weight training with dumbbells:
- Proper form is everything. Performing dumbbell training with poor form is a good way to cause unnecessary strain and potential injury. As you begin, it will serve you well to start off with light weights so you can perfect the movement before you move on to heavier and more challenging weights.
- Eat right to see results. Proper nutrition is crucial for any fitness goal you have. Make sure that you are eating an adequate amount of protein, which will help to rebuild the microtears that occur as you lift weights, and minimize poor-quality foods in your diet that could mask your progress.
- Keep it challenging. One of the best perks of dumbbell training is that, as long as you have access to a range of weights, you can do the same workouts with heavier weights to continue challenging your body. If you feel that your progress has stagnated, simply work with heavier weights!
- Don’t forget to stretch. Stretching out your muscles after a workout can help improve your flexibility, increase your range of motion, and prevent injuries. [*] Be sure to incorporate both mobility training and static stretching to maximize your workout results.
What Should My Training Program Look Like?
The amount you should train depends on your fitness goals and whether you are doing other workouts as well. If you’re doing other kinds of workouts as well – for example, high-intensity interval training or powerlifting – you won’t have to do your dumbbell workouts as often, though they are always a great complement to other kinds of training.
However, consistency is key for reaching your goals, so no matter how you choose to approach it, be sure to incorporate your dumbbell training regularly. If done consistently, three times a week seems to be plenty for increasing both strength and lean muscle mass. [*]
As far as the workouts themselves, there are plenty of ways to approach your strength training. To keep your workouts consistent and ensure that you’re targeting all of your major muscle groups, you can dedicate each day to a specific muscle group. This way, you will allow the non-active muscle groups to rest and recover on their “off-days,” which is crucial if you want them to grow!
5-Day Dumbbell Workout Plan
This five-day dumbbell plan will make sure that your workouts are both consistent and hit all of your major muscle groups.
To begin with, start with a moderately challenging weight and aim to complete five sets with eight reps each. Once you assess your fitness level, make adjustments to your reps and weights as needed.
You can also alter this plan based on your personal fitness goals. If you want to build bigger, more impressive muscles, you should work with heavier weights and fewer reps. On the other hand, if you’re aiming to be lean and toned, choose the lighter weights, higher reps, and little or no rest between sets to get your heart rate up.
Day 1: Arms
- Hammer curls
- Tricep kickbacks
- Overhead extensions
Day 2: Legs
- Dumbbell squats
- Dumbbell swings
- Split Squats
Day 3: Shoulders and Back
- Lateral raises
- Shoulder press
- Reverse fly
- Arnold press
Day 4: Chest
- Chest press
- Decline press
- Incline press
Day 5: Whole-Body Workout
- Renegade rows
- Farmer’s walks
- Weighted crunches
- Russian twists
- Squat press
- Clean and press
Take two days every week to rest and recover. Remember, this rest time is important for allowing both your muscles and strength to grow.
As you can see, dumbbell training is an incredibly versatile tool to have in your workout arsenal. Whether you’re looking to get lean and toned, improve your athletic performance, make huge muscle gains, or even just improve your overall health and wellness, you’d do well to pick up some weights.
For the most effective strength-training routine, make sure to keep it consistent and increase the weights you work with as you build strength. Also, make sure that you are hitting every major muscle group in your body and allowing for rest for proper recovery.
The sky’s the limit with dumbbell workouts!