How to Use 3-Pound Hand Weights for Toning

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Three-pound hand weights aren't going to build large, bulky muscles the way power lifting might. However, personal trainer Ben Cohn in Hillsboro, Oregon, notes they are ideal for toning and sculpting, such as a basic stretch and posture workout in a basic yoga sequence. Positioning your weighted hands correctly will add significantly more resistance to each pose, toning your muscles while you stretch.

Begin in a natural stance. Stand with your legs hip-distance apart, your body erect but relaxed. Look straight forward and breathe naturally with your hands hanging at your sides holding the weights.

Move your hands with the weights in lateral arcs above your head, using the reverse motion of a backstroke. Look upward at your hands, then arch your back slightly. The extra weight will place extra resistance on your core, triceps and forearm muscles.

Return to upright. Lower your hands laterally until your arms extend straight from your shoulders, as if you're holding open an elevator door. Step back with your right foot and bend both knees until you are kneeling with your right knee 1 inch from the ground. You will feel the hand weights in your shoulders, upper back, left thigh and right glute.

Straighten back up, then step back with your left foot. Repeat Step 3 on the opposite side, feeling the burn intensify in your shoulders and upper back, and shift in the thighs and glutes.

Return to a natural stance. Pick your left foot up off the ground as you extend your left hand out away from your shoulder. This balance challenge will tone your calf, core and shoulder. Return your foot to the ground, then repeat on the right side.

Stand on both feet and extend your hands with the weights above your head. Keeping your spine and arms aligned, bend forward at the hips until your torso and arms are parallel to the floor. The extra weight will put added load on your lower and middle back.


You can modify many exercises with the addition of hand weights. After practicing this routine long enough to get a feel for how it works, apply the concept to other exercises and yoga postures.