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Carla S. - June 5, 2020

Adjustable Dumbbell Exercises - How to Stay Fit at Home

How do you stay in shape if you don’t have the option of joining a gym or taking exercise classes on a regular basis?

Should you even try to stay toned and strong and maintain an active lifestyle? Well, if you happen to have a set of adjustable dumbbells, you have nothing to worry about.  

You don’t need to set up a full-fledged home gym to reach your fitness goals. Purchasing a set of adjustable weights plus a yoga mat or a bench is all you need to complete a full-body workout. Then if you can eke out space where you can freely move and stretch, you’re good to go for your home workout!

What are adjustable dumbbells?

Think of adjustable dumbbells as compact, innovative, and versatile workout equipment. Basically, it’s a metal bar with weight plates on either end that you can increase or decrease (usually by 5 lbs. increments). There are several designs to choose from.

For example, some use plates that slide onto the bar and lock into place; some use levers or knobs to control the change in weight; and there’s even a “twistlock” model that allows you to switch the weight amount by simply twisting a handle. 

What are the benefits of adjustable dumbbells?

  • Less expensive than a gym membership
  • Less expensive than exercise machines
  • More convenient than exercise classes
  • More versatile than exercise machines
  • Excellent for isolating muscle groups
  • Great for arms workouts, chest exercises and total body workouts
  • Promotes balance and stability
  • Easy to adjust according to skill or experience
  • Moves and routines are easy to learn
  • Takes up less space than machines
  • Portable

Before You Start

Using dumbbells is a popular way to get fit. Since the weights are easy to adjust and each exercise can be modified to match your skill level, it’s no wonder that so many people want to add dumbbells to their fitness regimes.

That said, it’s essential to use proper form at all times and to pay special attention to your posture and stability (even when picking up and putting down the weights). If you have any doubts about technique, check out online tutorials and exercise videos for some pro tips, or get in touch with a professional trainer.

The Right Start

Before each exercise, double-check that you have chosen an appropriate weight and that you are aware of the proper form required for each move. If at any time you find that you’re compromising your form, check the weight settings. There’s a good chance it’s too heavy if you’ve lost your form.

Here are a few basic exercises that are guaranteed to start you off on the right foot.

Bicep Curls

There are several variations of bicep curls, also called dumbbell curls, so feel free to try out all of the options. While the goal is to strengthen your biceps, your forearms will get a bit of a workout too. This version is referred to as a “hammer curl.”

Stand erect with a weight in each hand and adjust your hands with your palms facing each other (as if you’re clutching a hammer). Slowly, curl the weight until it just about touches your bicep, and then slowly lower your arm into the starting position. The key is to stay in control and to let the muscle rather than the momentum do the work. (Variation: turn palms to face the ceiling or do one arm at a time.)

Shoulder Press

The shoulder press targets the shoulders, triceps, and the top of your chest. Stand with a weight in each hand above your shoulders in a U-shape. Make sure there’s a soft bend in your elbows and then raise your arm up as high as you can in a slow, controlled motion. Lower the dumbbell and return to the starting position (slow and steady!) and then repeat. Be careful not to over-grip the dumbbells!

Russian Twists

This exercise proves just how versatile adjustable dumbbells can be. It’s the perfect move to strengthen the abs and obliques. To really get the most out of this move, take your time! The slower you move, the more effective the exercise.

Sit on the floor either with your legs up in a “V” (the more advanced position) or with your legs ¾ of the way straight in front of you with your heels on the ground and your feet flexed.

Roll back to a curved “C” position, engaging your core muscles right away. Hold one dumbbell in front of you, one hand on each end, and without losing the tension in your abs, twist from your waist to the left and then to the right. Keep the movement in your waist, your shoulders and head are just along for the ride!

Get Equipped

If you’re serious about doing a dumbbell workout at home, enhancing your training routine and building upper body strength and lean muscle, there are a few pieces of equipment you might want to consider. Of course, aside from a new pair of dumbbells or even a small dumbbell set for beginners, you might also consider investing in a dumbbell bench to help you get the most out of your chest workouts.

A Routine That's Right For You

If you’re looking for an at home workout routine that has noticeable results, is interesting and easy to follow, and is convenient and cost-effective, you can do so much with adjustable dumbbells!

From triceps extensions to dumbbell rows and the dumbbell press, there’s no shortage of exercises you can do with this super versatile equipment. What’s more, adjustable dumbbell exercises aren’t just for the upper body. There are plenty of lower body exercises you can do as well, including goblet squats, stiff legged dead lifts and calf raises.

With tons of moves tailored for beginners to experts, not to mention the countless training videos available online, there’s no reason you can’t be toned and stronger than ever. So, what are you waiting for? Ready, set, lift!