Top 10 Dumbbell Exercises Everyone Should Be Doing

dumbbell exercises
Old gym interior with equipment

There’s no dispute that the dumbbell is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment for a full body workout.

Unlike other items of equipment, the dumbbell allows for maximum use of all groups of muscles, with limited restriction.

Sure, there are other pieces of equipment which offer a phenomenal burn. But some of these are restrictive to unilateral movements or certain muscle groups.

Dumbbells are the ultimate form of gym equipment. Check out some of our top dumbbell exercises to increase both your strength and stamina.

Dumbbell Exercises for a Full Body Burn

Dumbbells are a truly dynamic piece of workout equipment. But this doesn’t mean your workouts should be isolated to dumbbells.

But if you’re looking for one piece of equipment you can do just about any type of workout with, dumbbells are your go-to.

Whether you’re a beginner weightlifter or a veteran, here are our top 10 dumbbell exercises for the ultimate full body burn:

1. The Bench Press

This is one of the best dumbbell exercises for building up the muscles in your chest, namely the pectoral, deltoid and tricep muscles.

You will need access to a flat bench which has the ability to incline and decline.

An incline bench press at a 45-degree angle targets the upper pectorals, while a decline bench press targets the lower pectorals.

Try and keep your lower back pressed against the bench at all times to protect your lower back muscles.

2. The Bicep Curl

This is one of those targeted dumbbell exercises which helps to build up both your bicep and forearm muscles.

There are three variations of the bicep curl:

  1. Raise both dumbbells simultaneously, with dumbbells horizontal to the ground.
  2. Raise each dumbbell alternately, with palms facing each other.
  3. Use a preacher curl pad for the ultimate bicep muscle isolation.

While there are other machines and pieces of equipment which offer a great bicep burn, none does the job better than the dumbbell.

3. The Shoulder Press

As the name suggests, the shoulder press is one of the top dumbbell exercises for toning the muscles in the shoulder and tricep.

Performing this exercise while standing upright means you’ll also need to engage your core muscles. This makes the shoulder press a great upper body exercise.

You can either alternate by pressing one arm up towards the ceiling at a time or using both arms at the same time.

If you wish to protect your lower back, this exercise can also be done on a vertical bench or sitting down.

4. The Tricep Kickback

The tricep is a difficult muscle to work in complete isolation. For this very reason, tricep kickbacks are one of the best dumbbell exercises.

In order to perform this exercise properly, you will need a flat bench upon which you can place your knee for stability.

Make sure to keep your upper arm completely still, flat against your body, while your tricep is fully engaged.

If your upper arm moves about, this means that your back and shoulder muscles are being engaged, taking away from the work of your tricep muscle.

5. The Lateral Raise

Another one of the best dumbbell exercises to build your shoulder muscles and the outer deltoids is the lateral raise.

Holding a dumbbell in each hand, raise your arms at the same time out to your sides. Make sure to keep the dumbbells horizontal to the ground.

Try not lock your legs during this exercise. Make sure your knees are slightly bent to take pressure off your lower back.

Bending your upper body slightly forward also helps to work the rear deltoids that little bit more.

6. The Upright Row

If you’re looking to work your back muscles, along with the shoulder muscles, the upright row is the ideal dumbbell exercise.

This exercise targets the trapezius muscle in particular, which is another muscle that is difficult to work in isolation. However, this dumbbell workout does the job.

Holding a dumbbell in each hand, bring your hands up to just under your chin. Keep your arms horizontal the ground as well, elbows facing away from you.

7. The Goblet Squat

Moving on to the lower half of the body, there are numerous dumbbell exercises which help to build the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps muscles.

None is more effective in building the glute and inner thigh muscles than the dumbbell goblet squat.

Spread your feet more than shoulder-width apart, sit down into a deep squat while holding a dumbbell between your legs for added weight.

Make sure to drive back up slowly and steadily to protect your lower back and feel a good burn.

8. The Stationary Lunge

In order to build up your quadriceps muscles, the largest muscle in your leg, the stationary lunge is another go-to exercise.

This is a relatively simple exercise to perform. Take a wide step backward with one leg, bend your knee 90-degrees, lower to the ground and push back up.

Adding the weight of dumbbells in each hand helps to make the exercise more difficult. Ultimately, this burns fat and builds more muscle.

Secondary muscles such as your glutes and calves will also receive a workout!

9. Calf Raises

Yet another simple yet effective workout with dumbbells is the humble calf raise.

Despite the name, this exercise doesn’t only target the calves but also works the hamstrings and your core muscles.

Standing on the spot, hold a dumbbell in each hand and simply raise your weight up onto your toes, then lower back down.

Make sure your core muscles are engaged during this workout to help with your balance.

10. The Russian Twist

Finally, a great way to work out both your abdominal and oblique muscles is the Russian twist with a dumbbell.

Take a seat on the floor, bend your knees to 90-degrees and raise your feet off the floor. For this exercise, you’ll need to find your balance by engaging your core.

Once you are balanced, twist at the waist from side-to-side, using a dumbbell for added weight.

If you want to protect your lower back, place your heels on the floor to make the exercise a little easier.

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