Dumbbells are about the most versatile piece of exercise equipment you'll ever use or own. You can train any body part with them, they're suitable for anyone-beginners, intermediate and pros-and can be used by people of any age to get fit. They're also the ideal piece of equipment regardless of your fitness goals. So whether you're just looking to trim down, maintain or even build mass, dumbbells can be the right piece of equipment you need. And, assuming that you're doing the movements properly, when you train with dumbbells you mimic the body's natural movements, considerably reducing the risk of injuring yourself.
The point today is to present a few little known, but highly effective dumbbell exercises-it's always good to do something new. When the body's muscles get too accustomed to the same routine day after day, week after week, month after month, your routine's effectiveness is diminished. That's why knowledgeable guys change up things up every now and then so they can keep seeing gains and achieving the results they want.
Here are a few dumbbell training routines that you probably haven't heard of.
Dumbbell thrusters (legs, shoulders): Works the glutes and shoulders at the same time. Place an exercise ball behind your legs. Stand straight holding two dumbbells at shoulder height with palms facing each other about even with your shoulders. Squat down until your butt touches the ball, then thrust upward raising your arms towards the ceiling, while maintaining your palms facing the same direction. Squat down again lowering the dumbbells to the starting position, then repeat.
Dumbbell hamstring curl (hamstrings): Lie face down on a flat bench with your knees hanging over about two to three inches. Have someone tuck a dumbbell vertically between your feet-if you're limber and not too clumsy, you can manage it yourself. Grasp the front two legs of the bench for stability. Then, without lifting your waist from the bench, keep your knees together tight and raise your toes (and the dumbbell) towards the ceiling until your shins are perpendicular to the floor.
Dumbbell ab crunch (abs): Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, holding a dumbbell with both hands (one hand over each end of the dumbbell) close to your chest just below your chin. Keeping your butt and lower back on the floor, slowly roll your upper back off the floor, keeping your neck neutral. Pause and hold for a second or two and then return to the starting position and repeat.
Low dumbbell crossover (chest): This awesome move can completely isolate and pump up your pecs. It's like the Low Cable Crossover but done with dumbbells to further isolate the pectoral muscle. With one foot forward for stability, grasp the dumbbells (hands facing forward), spread your arms until they're at about a 45-degree angle and your hands are a few inches behind your hips. Lean forward slightly. Bring the dumbbells up and together, using a sweeping arc motion, stopping right in front of your lower chest. Pause for a full second, return to the starting position and repeat. Keep your arms slightly bent to be sure that you're fully isolating the pecs.
Dumbbell press and fly combo (chest): This double-duty exercise keeps the pectoral muscles under tension throughout the movement. Position yourself for a regular dumbbell chest press. When your arms are fully extended, instead of dropping them back down to your chest, then slowly arc them out in a fly movement-without changing the position of your hands-until you get a nice stretch. Pause, return to the starting position and repeat.
Wrong way tricep pullover (triceps): Lie sideways (perpendicular) with your upper back on a flat bench as though you were going to do a dumbbell pullover for your chest. Grasping one dumbbell with both hands, bring your arms up and behind your head-again, as though you are going to do a dumbbell pullover. But instead of trying to keep your arms straight, stretch your arms back, maintain the upper arms in a fixed position and bend your elbows down, lowering the dumbbell and stretching the triceps. Pause, squeeze, return to the starting position and repeat.
Zero impact dumbbell row (back): Stand with your knees somewhat bent and lean over slightly, keeping your back straight. Hold the dumbbells so they're in front of your thighs (palms facing your legs). Your elbows should be slightly bent. Bring the dumbbells out, back and up behind you in an arc, swinging your elbows back like a pendulum but maintaining control of the weight, keeping your back straight. Focus on contracting the back muscles. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Reverse incline hammer curl (biceps): Use fairly light weights for this one-it really isolates the bicep. Sit backwards on an incline bench adjusted to a 60- to 70-degree angle. With your arms hanging straight down, hold the dumbbells with your thumbs up, palms facing each other (hammer curl position). Curl the weights up until the just touch your shoulders. Squeeze, pause and repeat. If you pull your elbows back just a bit, it will put more emphasis on the long head of the biceps, which can otherwise be tough to train.
Mix in a few of these "off the beaten path" dumbbell exercises into your training routine every now and then. Not only will it help keep your routine fresh, but you'll surprise your muscles with something new and maybe even see some gains.
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