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The Fitness Zone

The Top 5 Dumbbell Exercises You Need To Be Doing
July 11, 2016

Dumbbells, they’re versatile, functional, and almost ALWAYS available no matter how busy your gym is. But believe it or not, these handheld weights are good for more than just bicep curls, according to Alex Hendrick, Fitness Coach at the Australian Institute of Fitness South Australia. So here are Alex’s top five dumbbell exercises that will be sure to spice up your clients’ workouts.

#1 Lunge with Overhead Loading

This exercise is great to determine the stability and coordination of your clients. To perform the lunge with overhead loading, simply chose a dumbbell weight that is challenging to hold with one arm overhead. Hold this position as you go through the lunge movement.

Holding a dumbbell overhead places a lot of emphasis on the stabilisers of the shoulder joint and requires a high level of core activation. To make this exercise more difficult you can lunge in different directions. Forwards, backwards, at 45 degrees and side lunges are excellent options to further challenge the strength, stability and coordination of the lower body.

#2 Renegade Row

This is an excellent full-body exercise which works both sides of the upper body, whilst also challenging the muscles of the trunk and hip. To start, place the dumbbells directly under the shoulders, with the feet either together or apart depending on your level. First perform a pushup, then make sure you set your feet wider than hip width apart. You will then transfer your weight to one side and row the dumbbell up with the opposing arm. Then do the same for the other side. For added complexity, you can add a twist and press, turning it into a T-push up.

#3 Squat Press

This exercise combines two fantastic functional exercises into one, and is great for developing strength and power. To start. hold the dumbbells in a front squat position. From here, perform a squat to the range of motion where you can maintain good form. The key is to use the power and momentum of the squat to help power the dumbbells overhead. Finish with the arms high and biceps covering the ears.


#4 Dumbbell Single Leg Deadlift

This is a great exercise for runners, as it targets the calves, hamstrings, glutes and core muscles. This can be done holding dumbbells in each hand or in one hand. This movement requires a bit of balance and coordination so it is best to do a couple of body weight reps first to practice. From a standing position, stand on one leg placing it in the middle of your stance. Bend the knee slightly, then begin to tip at the hips, lowering your torso towards the ground. Push the leg that is off the ground back behind you to help counterbalance the movement. When lowering, the dumbbells need to track either side of the balancing leg, staying as close to the line of your centre of gravity as possible. The end range will depend on your flexibility and strength, but will generally be around mid-shin height.


#5 Woodchops

This exercise targets the core heavily, while working the legs and upper body as well. It is important to load the hips and use them to create the power to swing the dumbbell from one side to the other. This exercise can be done from low to high, or high to low. To make it easier, keep the arms in close to the body. To make it more difficult, keep the arms extended throughout the whole movement.


This content is not intended to be used as individual health or fitness advice divorced from that imparted by medical, health or fitness professionals. Medical clearance should always be sought before commencing an exercise regime. The Institute and the authors do no take any responsibility for accident or injury caused as a result of this information.

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