They’re one of the handiest fitness tools around, and they’re the go-to equipment when you’re looking for something less intimidating than the barbell. But you can do more with dumbbells than just your regular sculpt-and-lift routines; it wouldn’t hurt to introduce a few twists to your workout to keep you challenged. With gyms and personal trainers going on holiday breaks soon, why not incorporate these moves into your home routines?
Targets: Legs, arms, core, cardio endurance
Who said weights don’t belong on the dance floor? Upgrade from the lifting moves and dance to the rhythm with your dumbbells by hitting play on your music player. A freestyle workout doesn’t diminish the amount of work you put in: Do arm extensions as you side-step to the beat, twist your hips, and bop your head to the music. Losing weight can both be work and play.
Standing dumbbell twists
Targets: Shoulders, core, obliques
With an additional focus on the abs, this standing weighted twist improves your core as much as it helps shape your arms. Hold a dumbbell with both hands, with the arms straightened at chest level. Then, once positioned, rotate your torso from right to left, making sure your abs are pulled in and up towards your spine with every twist. Up the ante by speeding up the pace, twisting faster after a few turns. Do four sets of 20 reps.
Targets: Chest, shoulders, obliques, abs, middle back, triceps, and glutes
Best done with hex dumbbells, this variation to the usual push-up routine targets the chest and the upper back. Begin by being on all fours, with your hands underneath your shoulders and gripping the dumbbells firmly. Raise your knees off the floor to go into a full plank, then lower your body with control as you would in a regular push-up. As you push yourself back up, raise the dumbbell in your left hand as you rotate your torso to the left and extend your left arm until you form a T from the side. Keep the motion smooth and controlled as you lower the dumbbell down and repeat the steps on your right side.
Targets: The glutes, adductors, calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, abs, shoulders
Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Slowly lower down into a squat, keeping your spine straight; to avoid compromising your posture, imagine trying to sit down on the edge of a chair. Keep the weight on your heels and make sure that your bent knees don’t go beyond your toes. As you go into a squat, raise your arms to the sides. Wrist straps may be used to keep your grip on the dumbbells firm.
Targets: The triceps, the middle and lower trapezius, and the anterior and lateral deltoids
This move helps release muscle tension in the back area and improve posture. Perform this either standing up or seated, with the arms bent in a 90-degree angle and each hand holding a dumbbell. Raise the weights overhead, keeping your torso stable and squared and your abs tight. Do 15-20 reps.
Writer: Danielle Arcon
A version of this article was originally published in MBody.