Dumbbells and a water bottle are all you need to get an effective strength-building workout at home or on the road.
Dumbbells can give you a quality muscle-building workout from home. There are close to 5,000 dumbbell exercises to target every muscle group in your body, without the need for a weight bench. Dumbbells also carry the added benefit of training each side of your body separately to remedy any muscle imbalances. With a little knowledge of when to work out and what exercises to do, you can build muscle from the comfort of your home.
Get Warmed Up
Warming up for your dumbbell workout is an important step to avoid an injury that could set back your training. Five minutes of jumping jacks, jumping rope or jogging in place is enough to get your muscles warmed up and ready to go. Drink at least 8 oz. water an hour before your workout and keep a water bottle nearby during the workout. After your workout, stretch all of the muscles you worked that day and drink another 8 oz. water.
Maximize Your Workout
Compound exercises are one of the most efficient ways to build size and strength because they train more than one muscle group at the same time. Dumbbell front squats, for example, not only target your leg muscles, they also target your back, core, and glutes. Add deadlifts to hit every major muscle group in your legs. Begin with 8- or 10-lb. dumbbells and increase the weight if it becomes too easy to complete the set. Do three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions of squats and deadlifts. Finish off your legs and work your core with lunge dumbbell twists. Holding a 5- or 8-lb. dumbbell in front of your chest with elbows bent, lunge forward with your right leg until both knees are at a 90-degree angle. Twist your upper body to the right at the same time. Twist back to the front and come back to starting position. Repeat with your left leg, twisting to your left side. Complete three sets of 10 repetitions on each side.
Include These Must-Do Exercises
For your chest, the dumbbell press is a must-do exercise that will target your chest, core, arms and shoulders. Dumbbell back rows will hit your back, arms and core. When you have mastered these exercises, try performing both the chest press and back rows one side at a time; this will require the use of your core to stabilize you, giving you the added benefit of some extra core work. In addition to these compound exercises, you want to include isolation dumbbell exercises such as biceps curls, triceps kickbacks and shoulder shrugs to further build muscles in these areas. Do three to four sets of eight to 10 repetitions of all upper body exercises; use dumbbells that make it challenging to complete your set, but allow you to do every rep with good form.
Make Your Plan
Beginners should start with two or three sessions of muscle-building workouts a week. Take at least one rest day between each dumbbell workout. If you have some experience with weight training and want to build more muscle, you can bump it up to four or five dumbbell workouts a week focusing on just two or three muscle groups per session to really target each muscle. In addition to at least two days a week of resistance training, the American Council on Exercise recommends adult males get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise every week. Moderate intensity activities include brisk walking, shooting around a basketball, mowing the law or doubles tennis. You can also meet this requirement by completing 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activities such as full court basketball, swimming laps, jogging or running.