Getting to know the equipment at the gym can help to make the experience even more enjoyable and using equipment correctly is essential to help avoid injury and ensure you can continue on your road to fitness.
Dumbbells are standard pieces of kit at every gym and range in weight from 2kg to 50kg. Beginners should use the lowest weight and work their way up the weight scale over several months. Increasing weight is just one variable you can use to make an exercise harder. Other variables include changing the number of reps and sets, adjusting the tempo, and changing rest periods. A personal trainer can help you use these variables to get the greatest benefit.
Dumbbells are predominantly used to build strength in the arms and shoulders, but can also be used to add resistance in many exercises working different parts of the body - such as in squats, which work your core, thighs and glutes.
The following five exercises will get you started, and you can talk to any personal trainer in our fitness and wellbeing gyms to find out more:
1. Single Arm Dumbbell Row
Muscles worked: Back
Safety notes: Place your left hand and left knee on a bench, hand under your shoulder and knee under your hip. Pick the dumbbell up in your right hand. Keeping your back flat, lift the dumbbell so that your elbow is in line with your shoulder whilst keeping the rest of your body still. Control the dumbbell on the way down and repeat on the other side.
2. Tricep Kickback
Muscles worked: Triceps
Safety notes: Place your left hand and left knee on a bench, hand under your shoulder and knee under your hip. Pick the dumbbell up in your right hand. Keeping your back flat, lift the dumbbell so that your elbow is in line with your shoulder and extend the dumbbell back, keeping a soft bend in your elbow. Return to the start position keeping your elbow as still as possible and repeat on the other side.
3. Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Muscles worked: Shoulders/upper back
Safety notes: Keep your feet hip-width apart, using an overhand grip lift the dumbbells out to the side so that your hands are in line with your shoulders and your arms are parallel to the floor. Keeping your chest still and your shoulders back, lower the dumbbells under control to the start position.
4. Cuban Press
Muscles worked: Shoulders
Safety notes: Keep feet hip-width apart, raise the dumbbells so that your elbows are bent at 90 degrees and are in line with your shoulders and your palms are facing the floor. Rotate your hands so that your hands are in line with your ears and press above your head, reverse the movement under control back to the start position.
5. Dumbbell Chest Press
Muscles worked: Chest
Safety notes: Lie on your back on a bench and lift the dumbbells so that your hands are in line with your chest. Press the dumbbells up so that your hands are above your shoulders and control on the way down, keeping your back in contact with the bench.
Last updated Wednesday 16 September 2020
First published on Wednesday 12 October 2016