The Best Exercises You Can do at Home with Dumbbells


Effective dumbbell workouts you can customize to meet your bodybuilding needs.

There are many benefits associated with using dumbbells for home workouts. Dumbbells offer you a lot more when it comes to versatility and don’t require a lot of space to work out; and they are easy to find. You can work out with a single set of dumbbells or a set of varying weights. One of the advantages to using dumbbells is that you can overcome any strength imbalances by working out one side of the body at a time; or you can work out both sides at once. Either way, your body is going to get a rockin’ workout using dumbbells. Here is a list of the most effective and productive dumbbell exercises for you to try at home.

Dumbbell Focus: ABS

Crunches are a great way to work the abs. Adding dumbbells adds more resistance to this basic ab building exercise for a more effective workout. Dumbbell weighted crunches can be done on the floor or on a bench and are performed by raising the upper portion of your body until the shoulder blades come off the surface.

A dumbbell side bend is also an effective workout for the abs. Stand holding one dumbbell in one hand. It should be held along the side of the body with the palm facing inward toward the body. Tilt your body toward the side that is holding the dumbbell and then bring it back up straight. Don’t bend too far sideways, just a slight tilt to one side.

Dumbbell Focus: CHEST

Bench Press: Bench-pressing with dumbbells is an excellent way to work the chest muscles. These can be done lying on a flat surface like a bench, or on a bench on an incline or a decline. Hold the dumbbells at chest level with your palms facing toward each other, then lift the dumbbells straight up over the body but don’t lock your elbows. Then slowly lower them back down.

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Dumbbell Flyes: Dumbell flyes are similar to a dumbbell press but slightly varied so that the pectoral muscles are targeted. The dumbbells are held in each hand and the elbows stay mostly fixed. While lying on the bench, extend the arms out to the side while holding the dumbbells above the body. Palms should be facing each other and the dumbbells should not be touching. While keeping your feet flat on the floor to provide balance, bend the arms slightly to lower the dummbells to your side. Be sure to make this move using a semi-circle motion. Rotate only the shoulders. After the dumbbells are level with the chest, squeeze your chest muscles to raise them back up in the same circular motion.

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Dumbbell Focus: SHOULDERS

Using dumbbells to do shoulder presses is an essential part of a home workout. The basic shoulder press is done by holding dumbbells just above the shoulders and “pressing” them upward over the head. The beauty of this exercise is that you can do it with both hands, alternating hands or even seated in a chair if you need back support. Other alternatives include turning the arms so that the palms face inward, and then turning the arms so that the palms face outward.

Dumbbell Focus: BICEPS

There are a variety of curls that can shape biceps but we are sharing three for you to include in home workouts.

Hammer Curl: A hammer curl is very effective at building and sculpting the bicep muscles. Hold the dumbbells in your hands and place them down the side of your body with palms facing inward. Then lift both of the dumbbells simultaneously by curling the elbows to raise the weights up to your chest. Slowly put the dumbbells back down by your sides.

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Inner Bicep Curls: Inner bicep curls are similar except that the dumbbells are raised toward the outside of the body so that they are shoulder height and then lowered back down.

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Seated Dumbbell Curl: The seated dumbbell curl is performed while sitting on a bench or chair and using only one arm at a time. Place the dumbbell in one hand and hold it between your legs with your elbow against the front of the thigh and the palm facing the inside of the other leg. Slowly raise the dumbbell up to the shoulder and then slowly lower it back down.

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Dumbbell Focus: TRICEPS

Dumbbell Triceps Extension: While in a standing position, use both hands to grasp a single dumbbell, lift it over and behind your head. Curl your elbows to raise the dumbbell and lower it back down slowly. This is a two-arm tricep extension. It can also be done using only one arm at a time. Another variation is to perform the exercise while seated.

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Triceps Kickback: A tricep kickback is done by placing one knee on a bench or chair and holding a dumbbell in the opposite hand. Hold the dumbbell so that your palm is facing the body and your upper arm is parallel to the body. Push the dumbbell backwards by extending the elbow. Then slowly return it back to your side.

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Dumbbell Focus: FOREARMS

Wrist curls are the best way to work the forearms, especially when using dumbbells. You may sit on a workout bench or a solid chair to do these curls. Palm-up wrist curls are done by holding the dumbbell in your hands and resting the back of the rest on your thigh with your palms facing upward. Using only your hands, bending at the wrist, lift the dumbbells. You may also do this exercise one hand at a time.

Palms down wrist curls are done with a dumbbell in each hand, or one hand at a time. While sitting, place your wrists on your knees with the palms facing downward. Using only the hands, raise the dumbbells slowly and then let them back down.

Dumbbell Focus: BACK

These dumbbell exercises target the muscles in the lower back as well as the upper and lower lats. You can use different variations of the basic rowing movement to work out your back muscles. A wide row and a bent over row can be done without a workout bench. The wide row is done from a squatting position. Each hand holds an appropriately weighted dumbbell and they are lifted straight up and lowered back down. Breathe out when you lift the dumbbells and breathe in as you lower them to the starting position.

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If you have a workout bench at your house you can do a kneeling one arm row. Place one knee and the corresponding hand on the bench and hold a dumbbell in the other hand. Without moving anything but your arm, lift the dumbbell straight up. After a short pause, lower it back to the starting position. A basic one arm row can be done with a chair or bench. Hold the dumbbell in one hand, and place the other hand on a chair or bench. You should be in a slightly bent position, remember to keep your back straight as you lift the dumbbell up to a position that is parallel with your body and then slowly let it back down.

Dumbbell Focus: LEGS

There are a variety of dumbbell exercises that allow you to focus on building leg strength. These exercises will target the thigh muscles (upper, lower, inner) and the calf muscles. Lunges work well for the upper thigh while toe raises work the calves.

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Toe Raises: Toe raises are done by holding the dumbbells against the sides of the body (palms should be facing each other). Lift the heels up off the ground and raise yourself up on your toes then let yourself back down. These can be modified to incorporate a one-legged toe raise where you alternate toe raises between the feet. A seated toe raise is done by sitting on a bench or chair. Put one foot out in front and place a dumbbell on the top of your thigh. Lift the wait by raising your heel off the ground. Alternate your feet so that both calves benefit from the workout.

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Dumbbell Squats: Start by using both hands to hold a single dumbbell in front of your thighs. Then you lower your body by gently bending your knees. Only bend your knees until they make a 90 degree angle, then raise yourself back up to an upright position.

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Dumbbell Lunges: A variety of lunges are beneficial for working the leg muscles. For each of the lunges you will hold a dumbbell in each hand. Hold it down at your sides with palms facing each other. To do a reverse lunge step back with one foot while bending your knees so that your knees form 90 degree angles. Then after a short pause, raise your body back up. A stationary lunge is done by standing with one foot in front and one in back. Lower your body without moving the feet. Lower your body until your knees form 90 degree angles. After a short pause, lift your body back up. A side lunge is performed by taking a wide step out to one side and bending your knees into right angels. Then raise yourself back up slowly.

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Author: Mary Olinger
Author Bio: Mary Olinger is a Fitness & Workout Nutrition Editor at Nutrition Souq. She is a marathoner who trains year round. She holds a Master’s Degree in Health Education. Her expertise is in the field of fitness, diet, weight loss and nutrition. She is an international educator who enjoys writing to helping people make healthier life choices.