When you do upper-body workouts with dumbbells, you activate small, stabilizing muscles to control the motion of the dumbbell. This means you work more muscles. What's more, the movement you use to perform the exercise can be customized to your body and motion. Exercise machines don't give you as much flexibility. Using dumbbells can be confusing, however. Check out these 5 great upper-body workouts with dumbbells.
Before the reading about the workouts, it's important to keep a few things in mind. First, always perform proper stretching before any dumbbell workout. A cold, tight muscle is prone to injury that can set back your dumbbell training. Second, keep your desired outcome in mind. Are you interested in general fitness, building muscle mass, increasing endurance or improving athletic performance? These factors will determine which weights to use and the number of repetitions to use.
This is best done on a bench since you don't want to give your elbows an unnatural stopping point (the floor, for example). Lay flat on a bench. The starting position for your arms should be extended and directly above your chest. Slowly lower the dumbbells in a controlled motion to your chest. Keep your elbows parallel to your chest at the lowest position (don't lock your elbows). Push the dumbbells back to the starting position and repeat. Variations on the chest press are the incline chest press, flat chest flies, and incline chest flies. Chest exercises strengthen your chest muscles.
On the same bench you use to perform your chest exercises, sit upright on the end of the bench with your feet facing forward. Your back should be flat. The dumbbells starting position should be at your chest. Slowly raise the dumbbells over your head, extending your arms as far as possible without locking your elbows. Then, lower the dumbbells back to the starting position and repeat. Other exercises to work your shoulders are: lateral raises, reverse flies and front raises.
Upright rows work your trapezius muscles. Stand upright with your feet about shoulder width apart. Your knees should be slightly bent. Stand holding the dumbbells with your palms facing your body. Slowly raise the dumbbells towards your chest and shoulders, reaching your chin if possible and keeping the dumbbells as close to your body as possible. Hold there for a count of two, lower to the starting position and repeat. Another trapezius exercise to consider is the shrug.
Sit on the end of the bench with your feet flat on the floor and facing forward. Hold one dumbbell in one hand. The elbow of the arm holding the dumbbell should rest on the inside of the thigh, right above the knee. Slowly curl the dumbbell towards your face, concentrating your efforts in your bicep. Lower the dumbbell to the starting position and repeat. Switch arms and repeat. Other bicep exercises include preacher curls, hammer curls and seated bicep curls.
The French press works your triceps. Lie on the bench and hold the dumbbells above your chest, palms facing each other. Your arms should be straight in the air and perpendicular to your body. Lock your shoulders and bend your elbows so that the dumbbells move towards either side of your head. When the dumbbells reach about the level of your ears, raise them back to the starting position and repeat. Other tricep exercises included overhead extensions and kickbacks.