02-08-2016

Best Dumbbell Exercises

Happy Monday!

Did you all watch the SuperBowl yesterday? What’d you think of the halftime show? I personally loved it, and loved Coldplay, but I keep reading about how people thought they were boring and/or Beyonce was better. I loved the whole thing – very entertaining. Plus, my sister and I will be seeing Coldplay on tour so we thought it was cool :)

Anyway, today marks Day 1 of my 5 Day Fitness Challenge (which you can sign up for here if you haven’t already). The first workout is a leg workout, and I’ll link to it below. First I just wanted to talk about dumbbell only workouts.

My 5 day challenge only uses dumbbells, mainly because it’s easiest for people since most have them. However, I prefer dumbbells over machines or even barbells. Dumbbells work your entire body more because you’re holding one in each hand, so you need to engage your core for exercises. Think about how much harder it is to do a dumbbell chest press than a barbell press. Or a single arm row as opposed to a barbell row. Not saying I don’t like barbells, because they definitely have their place, but dumbbells are #1 for me.

Using dumbbells can also show you if you have any muscle imbalances. For example, when I do dumbbell chest press, I realize that one arm is able to go down lower than the other arm, which points to an imbalance.

Lastly, dumbbells can help build your grip strength. Trying to do walking lunges with less-than-great grip strength is HARD and your forearms will be burning. Using dumbbells for lunges, farmer’s carries, deadlifts, and more can help build your grip strength (which translates well for heavier deadlifts or pull-ups if that’s your goal).

So here are a few of my favorite dumbbell exercises:

The best dumbbell exercises (in my opinion) to build total body strength! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Single-arm row

I love single arm rows. I feel like they really target your back and build strength fast. I like to support myself on a box or bench (as opposed to my knee) to really have a stable base. One tip is to make sure that when you lower the dumbbell, you’re not lowering it all the way down and letting your shoulders relax. You want to SQUEEZE your shoulder blades the entire time. So even when you’re at the lowest point, you’re still squeezing/flexing your shoulder blade/back, and using those muscles to pull it back up, instead of momentum.

single arm rowPhoto source

I also like to stand, like the photo above, as opposed to having one knee on the bench. This way engages more of your core AND your hamstrings and glutes.

Single-leg deadlift

These are killer (and in my workout video). If you have awful balance like I do, it’s even harder. But that’s the best part. It helps you get better at balancing and using your core, which is so important for runners and athletes.

single leg deadliftPhoto source

Start with bodyweight only, and work your way up to holding a dumbbell in each hand. Then work your way to an offset (one dumbbell) with a heavier weight. Your hamstrings will definitely be feeling it the next day!

Skullcrushers

This is an exercise that is definitely more challenging with dumbbells than a barbell. I think it is “easier” to get the weight up with a barbell. This is also a great exercise for building tricep strength, which is important for any pushing exercise (bench press, push-ups, etc.). 

Photo source

Make sure you lower the dumbbell down to the bench (touch the bench by your ears) before going back up. You can also do single arm variations. You want to keep your elbows in and back, kind of on an angle going behind you, not straight up. Your elbows should stay in that position, and only your hands move the weights throughout the motion (not your elbows swaying back and forth).

These are three of my top dumbbell exercises. I am always sore the next day after doing these! 

Here is my first workout of the 5 Day Fit Challenge :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9BuqekuXCw

Make sure to sign up for the challenge so you can be entered to win a PlantFusion prize pack! It’s 5 days of workout videos sent right to your inbox, printables to take to the gym, support and (like I said) a chance to win some free protein powder! Who doesn’t want that?

What are your favorite dumbbell exercises? 

If you could only do ONE exercise for the rest of your life, what would it be? I think I would choose walking lunges…so tough but a total body exercise AND gets the heart rate up!

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