Dumbbell exercises

5 dumbbell exercises to tone up at home

Grab some dumbbells for these five easy exercises that’ll turn any living room into a home gym.

By Amy Lewis, 07 December 2015
5 dumbbell exercises to tone up at home

Dumbbells are perfect for exercising at home, because you can use them in even the smallest spaces and get a full body workout with just a few key moves. Any room in your home can become a mini gym thanks to free weights.

Five exercises that’ll help you work all the key muscles; brilliant whether you want to lose weight, tone up or just stay fit

To get you started, we’ve rounded up five exercises that’ll help you work all the key muscles in your body. Brilliant whether you want to lose weight, tone up or just stay fit.

We’ve suggested a number of repetitions for each exercise, and for a good workout you should try to do three rounds (or sets) of each exercise. It’s important that you listen to your body however, and adjust the numbers as you see fit.

Don’t push yourself too hard at the beginning, and if you’re unsure about what weight to use, go for a lower number and work your way up gradually when you have a clearer idea about what your body is comfortable with.

SQUATS

Good for: Squats are a compound movement, meaning that it uses more than one muscle group and joint at a time. In this case, squats are especially great for working your legs, bum, strengthening your core and improving your posture, while also improving mobility in your hip and knee joints.

How to do it: Stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart, and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Let your arms hang at your sides, keep your chin up and look straight ahead throughout the movement. Keeping your back straight (this is important for safety), bend at the knees to lower yourself down into a squat position - your thighs should be parallel to the floor. As you lower yourself down, breathe in steadily and try to keep your knees in line with the tips of your toes, to avoid putting any stress on your joints. Breathe out as you start to raise yourself back up to the starting position, pushing from the heels of your feet to engage the glute muscles. Try aiming for 10 repetitions.

STEP UPS

Good for: Another compound movement, step ups using dumbbells are a great way to tone your legs and strengthen your core without putting any strain on your lower back.

How to do it: For this you’ll need a sturdy box or flat step. Stand up straight, looking forward and holding a dumbbell in each hand. Place one foot flat on the step or box (this is your lead leg), and pushing through this raised foot, step up to place the other foot (your support leg) on the box too. Step back down using your support leg first and keeping your posture, to return to the start position. When stepping up, make sure you keep the knee and foot of the lead leg pointing forwards (don’t let them turn in) to avoid putting any stress on the joint. Repeat 10 times using the same leg as your lead, then swap over.

BICEP CURL TO SHOULDER PRESS

Good for: A great time saver, combining these two exercises means that you can give your arms and shoulders a work out at the same time, toning your upper arms all over.

How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, back straight and knees slightly bent, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Your palms should be facing forwards, so that your thumbs are furthest from your body. Bending your elbows and keeping them close to the sides of your body, raise the dumbbells to your shoulders - that’s the bicep curl. For the next part, rotate your wrists so that your palms face forwards, and push the dumbbells upwards over your head (don’t lock your elbows, keep a slight bend) - that’s the shoulder press. Slowly bend your elbows and bring the dumbbells back to your shoulders, and then rotate your wrists so palms face outwards again, then lower your arms back to the starting position at your sides. Repeat the whole movement 10 times.

SINGLE ARM ROWS

Good for: A great movement for working the muscles in your back as well as strengthening your core, this exercise will tone your upper body muscles as well as your abs.

How to do it: Using a sturdy chair (it’s best to have the back of the chair positioned against a wall so that it doesn’t slide out from under you), stand in front of it and lean forward, using one arm to support yourself on the chair, and holding a dumbbell in the other. With your back flat and straight (not rounded or arched in the middle) and your arm extended, begin the exercise by pulling the dumbbell towards you until your upper arm is parallel to your body, hold for a short pause, then lower it back down. Try to concentrate on using the muscles in your upper back to pull and lower the weight and tighten your core throughout the movement to keep a stable position. Repeat this 10 times and then switch arms.

TRICEP KICKBACKS

Good for: Though this exercise targets the hard-to-tone triceps to help banish bingo wings, it’ll also help to tone your arms all over.

How to do it: Begin by standing straight, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing inwards. Keeping your knees slightly bent and feet shoulder width apart, bend forwards at the waist, keeping your back straight so that your torso is almost at a 90 degree angle. You should keep your head up, facing forwards, and your elbows should also be bent at 90 degrees, so that the dumbbells are close to your torso. Keeping your upper arms in their position, use your triceps to push the dumbbells back behind you, extending your elbows. Only your forearms should move backwards. Hold for around two seconds and then bring your forearms back. Aim for eight repetitions, and if you find it too difficult, try doing the exercise using just one arm at a time.

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