These Dumbbell Exercises Will Take Your Workouts To The Next Level

Getting motivated to get out of the house and head to the gym can be hard — and, when you think about it, completely unnecessary. That's because even just a tiny amount of equipment makes it possible to get a fantastic workout without leaving home. For way less than the cost of a gym membership, or a personal trainer, a set of dumbbells allows you to do workouts that, when practiced regularly, will actually produce impressive results. Measly one-pounders all the way up to fifteen-pound dumbbells and heavier can help you challenge your body and strengthen muscles ranging from triceps, biceps, abs and beyond.
And if you're a cardio-only exerciser, dumbbells are also a great way to ease your way in to weight training (which is incredibly good for your body, btw), even if you're not quite ready to pick up a barbell.
Whether you’re looking for a full-on workout or just want to get in a few sets during Crazy Ex-Girlfriend commercial breaks, these dumbbell exercises will take your workouts at home and at the gym to the next level. Mix and match these dumbbell moves to create your perfect dumbbell fitness regimen that will make you wonder why anyone would ever use any other type of weights.
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Supported Bent-Over Row

Suggested dumbbell weight: Something heavy, between eight and 10 pounds.

If you can't find a bench, something firm and around the same height — like an ottoman or couch — will work. Keeping your back parallel to the floor helps you hit your shoulders and biceps when you bend your arm.

How to: Place your right knee and right palm flat on a bench. Your knee should be directly under your hip, and your arm should be straight, with your wrist below your elbow. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand.
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Supported Bent-Over Row (cont.)

How to: Exhale as you slowly bend your elbow up toward the ceiling. Let your elbow graze past your ribs and stop just when your elbow passes the plane of your back. Inhale as you straighten your arm for one rep. Do 10 to 15 reps; then switch sides.
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Tricep Kick-backs

Suggested dumbbell weight: Something on the lighter side, between three and five pounds.

In order to target your triceps (the muscles on the back of your upper arm), you need the help of gravity — hence the bent-over position. But to protect your back, you need to keep it flat and straight, not rounded, from the crown of your head to your tailbone, so be sure to engage that core.

How to: Stand with your feet hips-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bend your arms so your hands are right by your shoulders, with your palms facing in, and your upper arms are parallel with your torso. Gently bend your knees, and hinge forward at your waist.
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Triceps kick-backs (cont.)

How to: Inhale; then exhale as you straighten your arms behind you. That's one rep; do 10.
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Strip Tease

Suggested dumbbell weight: 1-3 pounds

If you want to work your core without doing sit-ups, put your lightest dumbbells to work with this dance-inspired move by trainer Katia Pryce, creator of KPDanceBody.

How to: Begin by standing with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and your toes facing forward. Hold a light dumbbell (one to three pounds) in each hand. Place your left hand on your left hip and raise your right hand over your head so the weight falls over the left shoulder. Be sure to keep a slight bend in your elbow, and shift your body weight to your left leg and lean your hips to the left.
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Strip Tease (cont.)

How to: Start to bring your right arm over so the weight is now over your right shoulder, and shift your body weight and torso in the opposite direction. Then, reverse the movement so that you’re back at the starting position. Now, put all the steps together, and continue moving back and forth for 10-20 reps. Don’t forget to switch sides.
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Single Arm Overhead Presses

Suggested dumbbell weight: 5-15 pounds
Moving one arm at a time adds a slight balance challenge that engages even more muscles — plus, your non-working arm gets to rest while you're still moving. Efficient!

How to: If you’ve ever fist pumped at a club or the Jersey Shore, you’ve already mastered this move. Bend your elbow so it’s right alongside your ribs and the weight is hovering above your shoulder, with your palm facing your chin.
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Single Arm Overhead Press (cont.)
Exhale as you press the weight straight up overhead, tracking the elbow straight in front of you (no winging out) and ending with the inside of the bicep aligned with the ear. Important: Do not let your body arch back under the weight. Keep your knees soft, and even stick your butt out ever so slightly, so you don’t let your hips jut forward. Inhale to lower the weight with control. Do 10 to 15 reps; then, switch sides.
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Chest Presses

Suggested dumbbell weight: 10 pounds
Work your way up to a full-on bench press and build some serious chest and upper-arm strength along the way.

How to: Start on your back on a bench or the floor. Hold the weights in the air with your elbows bent right along your sides; then, exhale and press the weights up straight over your chest.
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Chest Presses (cont.)
Control as you inhale and bring the weights back down to the start. Another version: Wing your elbows out to the sides so they’re at about a 45-degree angles from your ribs. Press up to the top, bringing the ends of your dumbbells close to each other, but without clanging them.
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Overhead-Press Combo

Suggested dumbbell weight: Whatever feels comfortable

For those who spend their days hunched over computers and curling their upper bodies to get a closer look at their iPhones, shoulder strength is massively important to encourage better posture and relieve muscle tension. Swap out that smartphone for some dumbbells every so often to increase your shoulder strength.

How to: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet hips-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Bend your arms to 90 degrees at shoulder-height, with your palms facing forward.
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Overhead Press (cont.)

How to: Bring your elbows towards each other, in front of your chest. Keep your abs tight and body stable.
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Overhead Press (cont.)

Return to your “goal post position.” Try not to let your elbows dip below shoulder-height. Now, press the weights overhead, keeping your palms facing forward: That’s one rep. Now, do 10-15 reps.
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Bicep 21s

Suggested dumbbell weight: Whatever feels comfortable

This classic bicep curl with gradually increases is simple to master, so with regular practice, you can easily work your way up to heavier dumbbells, and feel like a seasoned body builder in no time. Plus, you’ll have gorgeously toned biceps! When curling dumbbells for your biceps, make sure that your wrists are stable and not turned or bent – if you’re having trouble keeping your wrists straight, you may want to try a smaller weight.

How to: Stand with your feet hips-width apart, and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Rest your arms in front of your thighs, with the palms facing forward. Curl the weights up, stopping at elbow-height, and then slowly lower them back to the tops of your thighs. Do this seven times.
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Bicep 21s (cont.)

How to: Now, start with the weights at elbow-height, curl the dumbbells up to your shoulders, and lower them — stopping at elbow-height. Do this seven times.
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Bicep 21s (cont.)

Finally, do seven complete curls with a full range of motion, starting at the tops of your thighs and bringing the weights to your shoulders. This totals 21 reps.

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