Strength Training Tips for Beginners: 5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Dumbbell Workouts by Dawn Taylor
Cardio is very important for heart health and for losing weight, but a lot of people are unsure how to tighten and tone their muscles. Body weight is fine for many exercises, but nothing will tighten up your muscles like a good set of dumbbells. Here are a few tips to get the most of your dumbbell workouts:
- If you are a gym member, sign up for a personal training session to learn how to perform the exercises. And also learn how to get the specific results you are going for (tank top arms, toned legs, etc.). If you aren't a gym member, YouTube has thousands of how-to videos, but be sure to look at the credentials of the person posting so you know they have some expertise.
- Always warm up with at least five minutes of dynamic movement to warm up your muscles. This prevents injuries and gets your blood flowing before using weights. You can walk, jog, use the elliptical, whatever it takes to get things warm. It also helps to do a set of whatever exercise you are doing without the weights first. The warm-up set will mimic the weight set as a rep in itself.
- Once you learn the fundamentals of using dumbbells, slow down your range of motion, especially on the return. For example, when you bend the elbow to bring your forearm up for a biceps curl, pause for a second then slowly return the weight (eccentric contraction) to the starting position. By doing this your targeted muscle group will work harder during the movement, which will lead to better results. In an overhead shoulder press, the push movement up over your head would be then followed with the slower movement back down to starting position. Think of it this way – when you push or pull at the start of any dumbbell exercise, you then pause and slow the return of the weight to the starting position. Push or pull equals exertion. Return equals slower, controlled movement. This simple tweak will give you better results and more defined muscles.
- Use your mind as much as your muscle. Breathe on exertion (again, push or pull movement) and then as you slow down the movement during the return of the weight. Think about the muscles you are using and put your mind to muscle. It helps with the exercise as you focus on the contraction and extension of the muscles.
- Mix cardio with dumbbells. For example, do a superset with jumping jacks first then go right to your weight set. This combination gets your heart rate up, burns more calories – even at rest – and leads to more efficient workouts.
These tips will improve your current dumbbell workouts, and your results will be visible.
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