Dumbbells are perfect for exercising at home.
Not only can they help you get your endorphin hit from the comfort of your living room, but they can be used for a large range of exercises to target different muscle groups.
To get you started, we’ve rounded up five exercises that will help you work all the key muscles in your body. We’ve also suggested a number of repetitions for each exercise. Try to do three rounds – or sets – of each exercise.
But remember, it’s important that you listen to your body and adjust the number of reps and sets as you see fit.
So, grab your dumbbells, some water and get going!
Good for: Working out a range of muscles all at once. That's because 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. It's quite the multitasker.
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.
2. STEP UPS
Good for: Toning your legs and strengthening your core without putting any strain on your lower back. Again, step ups whilst using dumbbells is another compound movement. So you get more bang for your buck.
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.
3. BICEP CURL TO SHOULDER PRESS
Good for: Time saving! 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. We're sold!
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.
4. SINGLE ARM ROWS
Good 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. It's a win-win.
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.
5. TRICEP KICKBACKS
Good for: Your triceps and adding some overall tone to your arms.
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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