Daily Routine: Dumbbell Workouts

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dumbbells offer a convenient and effective option for strength training

Note: This is a guest post by Dai Manuel from DaiManuel.com.

Dumbbell workouts are old school, but they never go out of style. Mainly, that’s because they offer tons of variety and convenience. You can mix and match exercises to hit specific muscle groups, building quality size and strength, and you can get a wonderful full-body pump.

Build Your List of Dumbbell Exercises

Before committing to a workout strategy or schedule, consider all the different dumbbell exercises at your disposal. Dumbbells offer major flexibility in terms of range of motion and variety between/within exercise types. If you observe proper form and breathing, you can target different “heads” of your muscles by slightly altering angles during each phase of a given exercise.

dumbbells offer a great balance between functionality and convenience

You can do several sets of biceps curls, for example, alternating between a supinated grip, a hammer grip or a reverse grip to hit the muscle heads in a slightly different way. Hitting muscles from different angles delivers a deeper pump and a fuller, more well-developed look overall. The long-term result is more power, striation and symmetry.

Customize Your Training Split and Schedule

Before diving into your workout, decide how you want to get it done. Do you prefer a full-body workout in one session, or do you typically split your training over multiple days? Both scenarios have unique advantages.

A full body workout focuses your efforts into a single session, saving valuable time. Over the course of several weeks, you can cycle through different types of exercises to ensure muscle confusion. This type of workout is especially suited to beginners or seasoned lifters coming back after major time off.

Split training saves time as well, but it focuses your efforts on one specific muscle group after another. Split training lets you blast one or two muscles from different angles in the same session.

Depending on your schedule, training experience, genetics and diet, either regimen is the best full body workout for you. A closer look at each type of workout reveals why.

Disclaimer: The following exercises can cause injury if performed incorrectly. Attempt them at your own risk. Always consult a doctor before undertaking a new program of exercise.

Sample Full Body Dumbbell Workout

1. Pectorals (chest)

Dumbbell flyes

4 sets x 8 to 12 reps (2 – 5 minutes rest between sets)

*If you don’t have a flat bench, then substitute in floor presses or pushups
4 sets x 10 to 15 reps (1 – 2 minutes rest between sets)

2. Biceps

Bicep curls (seated or standing)

3 sets x 10 to 12 reps (2 – 5 minutes rest between sets)

3. Anterior & medial deltoids

Standing scaption raises

3 sets x 10 to 12 reps (1 – 2 minutes rest between sets)

4. Posterior deltoids

Reverse flyes

4 sets x 10 to 15 reps (20 – 60 seconds rest between sets)

5. Triceps

Dumbbell triceps extensions (standing or seated)

3 sets x 10 – 15 reps (1 – 2 minutes rest between sets)

6. Core

Dumbbell Russian twists

4 sets x 10 to 15 reps (1 – 2 minutes rest between sets)

7. Back

One-arm dumbbell rows, both sides

3 sets x 10 to 12 reps (2 – 5 minutes rest between sets)

8. Gluteals (butt muscles)

Dumbbell jump squats

3 sets x 8 to 12 reps (2 – 5 minutes rest between sets)

9. Quadriceps

Dumbbell goblet squat

3 sets x 8 to 12 reps (1 – 2 minutes rest between sets)

10. Hamstrings

Dumbbell lunges

3 sets x 10 to 12 reps per leg (1 – 2 minutes rest between sets)

This full body workout hits all your major muscle groups. Because it’s an extensive program, only complete it 2 – 3 days per week with at least 1 day rest between workouts. You can swap out old exercises and introduce new exercises to enhance variety and enjoyment.

If you have a sturdy plyo box you can incorporate dumbbell step-ups and more complex weighted jumps in place of lunges and jump squats.

Similarly, you can combine multiple exercises into supersets to maximize time under tension for each muscle group. You also can split groups up over several days, doing two to three exercises per muscle group with the recommended number of sets and reps.

Whatever strategy you choose, shake up the degree to which your workouts challenge your muscles by remembering the basic principles of muscle building.

Sample Split Dumbbell Routine

Split-training is equally helpful to beginners and advanced lifters. For beginners, split training lets you focus on lagging body parts at your own pace. For advanced lifters, split training lets you deliver intense, targeting stress to certain muscles for a more aesthetically pleasing and competitive silhouette.

Split-training workouts are as numerous as sand grains on a beach. You can work opposing muscle groups or primary and secondary muscle groups. The following is just a suggestion for opposing muscle groups:

Day 1: Biceps, Triceps, Chest and Back

Dumbbell flyes or presses

4 sets x 8 to 12 reps (2 – 5 minutes rest between sets)

Bicep curls

3 sets x 10 to 12 reps (2 – 5 minutes rest between sets)

Tricep kickbacks

3 sets x 10 to 15 reps (1 – 2 minutes rest between sets)

Day 2: Shoulders and Core

Lateral raises

3 sets x 8 to 12 reps (1 – 2 minutes rest between sets)

Reverse flyes

4 sets x 10 to 15 reps (20 – 60 seconds rest between sets)

Finish with your preferred abdominal workout

Day 3: Legs & Core

Stiff-legged dumbbell deadlifts

3 sets x 6 – 10 reps (2 – 5 minutes rest between sets)

Dumbbell squats

3 sets x 6 to 12 reps (1 – 2 minutes rest between sets)

Dumbbell lunges

4 sets x 10 – 15 reps (1 – 2 minutes rest between sets)

Russian twists or standing oblique twists

4 sets x 6 – 12 reps (20 – 60 seconds rest between sets)

Weighted sit ups

4 sets x 6 – 12 reps (20 – 60 seconds rest between sets)

Principles of Building Muscle

The six principles of building muscle are:

  1. Intensity
  2. Volume
  3. Frequency
  4. Exercise Selection
  5. Rest
  6. Protein

Intensity refers to the enthusiasm with which you “attack” your workout. You can augment and lessen intensity by raising or lowering the weight you lift, combining multiple sets into a single superset, or resting less between sets and different exercises. Evidence suggests that, regardless of intensity, lifting to muscular failure or within two reps of failure is important for ensuring your training leads to optimal growth.

Training volume refers to the overall numbers of sets and reps you do. Evidence suggests that more sets and reps invariably lead to greater muscle gain, providing that you consistently observe the other principles, such as frequency.

Lifting on a routine basis maintains the level of workout frequency that builds muscle. Although everyone’s body is different, it’s generally the case that hitting one or two different muscle groups daily or hitting your entire body one to three times weekly, is essential to attain and maintain your gains.

Exercise selection and rest help your body optimize the effects of your workout. Switching up the exercises you do helps you break through mini plateaus, while enough rest periods give your body time to recover and grow.

Lastly, protein feeds your new muscle, with recommended daily intake ranging from 0.6 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight. Manipulating your macro amounts and types isn’t an exact science, but all exercise scientists agree that plenty of high-quality protein every day is a must.

Intermediate to Advanced Workouts

After mastering a basic workout, learning and incorporating the six principles, and deciding between split training or full body/single day, think about more advanced strategies to help you up your gains and strength.

Manipulating your workouts and the six principles helps you streamline very specific short-term and long-term goals, such as:

  • Strength and Power
  • Hypertrophy (muscle growth)
  • Core stability
  • Conditioning

Lower reps and higher weights lead to power and strength, whereas higher reps and moderate weight stimulate hypertrophy (muscle growth/size). Movements like dumbbell squats and deadlifts easily give you power and strength while stimulating hypertrophy and hardening your core.

Meanwhile, supersets, combinations of complex movements, jumping ropes and battle ropes increase cardio and muscle endurance, conditioning your muscles for enhanced athletic performance and stamina. Depending on your fitness goals, you can lift for power/strength, hypertrophy, core conditioning or all the above according to your seasonal/athletic/lifestyle requirements.

Increase reps and poundage as you become stronger. Peruse your favorite fitness magazines, websites and blogs (such as ours!) for pro tips on exercise types and diet. The best full body workout hits all your major muscles and does not require tons of equipment to complete.

If your gym of choice is at home, adjustable dumbbell sets are advisable. You can select, and switch weight amounts up to hundreds of pounds, letting you take advantage of your gains and strength without having to purchase and accommodate tons of bars and plates.

adjustable dumbbells are expensive, but extremely useful

When you’re traveling and have guest access to public gyms, traditional dumbbells are still the norm. Pairing dumbbell exercises with other equipment, such as benches and special seats, opens an additional world of potential exercises, such as preacher curls, seated reverse curls, step-ups and dumbbell chest presses (to name a few). Half of the fun is experimenting and tailoring workouts just for your body, home setup or temporary advantages.

Good luck exploring dumbbell routines,
THFF (The Home Fit Freak)

Guest Author Bio: Dai Manuel

Dai Manuel is a super dad, dating his wife and currently doing life with his family around the globe. He is also an award-winning digital thought leader and author at DaiManuel.com,  executive performance coach and certified lifestyle mentor who empowers people to lead a FUN-ctionally fit life through education, encouragement and community. He models his work based on 5 F’s: Fitness, Family, Finances, Faith with an overarching roof of FUN, erected on a rock-solid foundation of Health. Keep the conversation flowing and connect with Dai on Instagram, Facebook or email.

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