Dumbbell Workouts: All You Need

by glenn on September 19, 2016

Shipwrecked with Dumbbells?  Perfect

The inferred meaning of perfect is all in how you say it.  If you were shipwrecked and only found a set of dumbbells as your useful equipment You may sarcastically say perfect.  But if shipwrecked and you like to workout, but the only thing you had with you were dumbbells, plus some life essentials, you would enthusiastically say perfect.


volleyball-2Both are correct.  If shipwrecked, you will need more than dumbbells to survive.  But strictly for exercise, they are a great option.  Few, if any things, are better.  Hey, Tom Hanks survived thanks for a volleyball in Castaway.


For the past 5 weeks, I have used nothing but dumbbells for my strength training workouts.  For the previous 30 years, I was a member, or employee, of some of the best gyms in the country.  Not the fanciest, but the best.  Until last month.  When faced when an equipment buying decision, I chose a 5-50lb set of hex dumbbells. Yup, I found someone trying to get rid of them and got a good price.


I have been a NESTA certified personal trainer for the past 5 years.  That knowledge goes a long way to knowing my way around the gym.  It was good to be faced with this new challenge.  How to get a complete workout with limited equipment.  I can honestly tell you, that dumbbells remove limitations in most cases.


My experience tells me that most people think of using dumbbells first for biceps and chest workouts.  I call that the pre-Friday night workout. Sure, you’ve got a variety of curling options and techniques for biceps and incline, decline, and flat press for chest.  But their usage varies greatly from just that.


It’s important to not continue to do the same workout over and over. It gets stale and boring.  I have often said to people, if you are bored with your workout, your muscles are, too.  With my chest workout I added in some neutral grip presses.  It’s a new movement for me, so I scaled back the weight.  I also felt a little more pressure on my shoulders, so going lighter was a good move.  Mix in some dumbbell flies and I have 9 exercises to rotate in and out of my chest days.  Since I only do three or four in a session, there are a lot of combinations.


For biceps, simply standing or sitting can make a difference in the way you work your biceps.  You can also vary your grip, forward facing, outward facing, or anatomical neutral.  I almost think there too many variations of biceps curl to write down at this time.  The one that I will highlight here though is my time saving superset.  When I only have a few minutes for biceps, I start with the 40 lb. dumbbells and do ten reps with each down to the 5 pounders.  A quick burn.


I have really rediscovered some great dumbbell movements and I think my muscles are thanking me.   If you find this helpful, let me know.  If you want to have a personal trainer help you design some great dumbbell workout, find a personal trainer in your neighborhood through the NeighborhoodTrainer community.




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