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Dumbbell Exercise Routines for Beginners

Adding dumbbell exercises into your training is an effective way to build strength, lean muscle mass and muscle tone. There are a variety of foundational dumbbell exercises that can be used for your routine. A good dumbbell routine for beginners will be split into two types: upper body and lower body routines, with both being performed twice a week. Each routine should be made up of few foundational movements in order to develop a good foundation of strength and technique.

Upper Body Routine

  1. Sit on a bench to perform the shoulder press. Bend your arms up so that the dumbbells are resting at shoulder height. With control, press the dumbbells up until your arms are extended straight up. Slowly lower them back down to the starting position; this is one repetition. Do three sets of eight to 10 repetitions. Keep your abdominal and back muscles engaged during each repetition to provide stability for your upper body throughout the movement.

  2. Stand up straight with feet slightly less than hip-width apart to perform the lateral raise. Hold the dumbbells by your side, then gradually raise them up to shoulder-height, so that your arms are in a straight line and your body is in a T-shape. With control, lower the dumbbells back to your sides. This is one repetition. Do three sets of eight to 10 repetitions.

  3. Engage your core muscles with the upright row. Stand straight with your feet slightly less than hip-width apart, with the dumbbells hanging in front of you. Bring the dumbbells up to chest height by bending your elbows up towards your shoulders. Slowly return the dumbbells to the hanging position; this is one rep. Do three sets of eight to 10 repetitions.

Lower Body Routine

  1. Hold the dumbbells at your side and stand with your feet slightly less than hip-width apart to perform a forward lunge. Take a step forward with one foot and bend that knee until it is at a 90-degree angle, then straighten the leg and return to the starting position. This is one repetition; switch sides for each repetition. To do a lateral lunge, hold the dumbbells in front of you, take a step directly to your side and drop down so that the knee comes to 90 degrees. Straighten the leg and return to center. Do three sets of eight to 10 repetitions.

  2. Bend one leg up behind you and rest that foot on a bench to prepare for split squats. These develop strength and muscle tone in your lower body. Engage your core to help with balance, hold the dumbbells at your sides and bend the leg you are standing on until it's at 90 degrees. Straighten the leg; this is one repetition. Do three sets of eight to 10 repetitions.

  3. Hold the dumbbells in front of you, with your feet hip-width apart to perform a deadlift. Engage your core and back, bend your knees slightly, then bend forward at the hips until the dumbbells reach the middle of the shins, keeping the dumbbells close to your body for the whole movement. Push the hips forward to return to the standing position. This is one repetition. Do three sets of eight to 10 repetitions.

    Tip

    Always warm up before your workout. A few repetitions of the exercises you are planning to do with light weights or your bodyweight is sufficient. Choose weights that are challenging but will allow you to perform the movement correctly with each repetition.

    Warning

    If you are unsure of the correct way to perform a movement, ask for help from a trainer. Never force yourself to do more than your body is ready for, as injuries can take a long time to heal and can even prevent you from lifting weights again.

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Things Needed

  • Set of dumbbells
  • Workout clothing
  • Comfortable flat-soled shoes

About the Author

Lau Hanly runs Fierce For Life, a nutrition and fitness company that helps young women start with healthy eating and smart training without overwhelming them. She has a certificate of nutrition, and provide individual coaching, standard fitness and nutrition programs, and group training.

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