Dumbbell Exercise

Original Editor - Lucinda hampton

Top Contributors - Lucinda hampton  

Introduction[edit | edit source]


Dumbbells are an excellent low-cost option for strength training and metabolic conditioning. They’re easily accessible and sold in most major athletic retail stores and online[1].

Weight training is essential for keeping body-fat low, increasing metabolism and strength, and improving posture and bone density. Busy schedules, hectic lives and a lot of commitments make it hard to find time to get to the gym. With just a pair of dumbbells, people can strengthen their muscles and tone their body. eg. in the comfort of your own home, outdoors at the park[2].

Benefits[edit | edit source]

Dumbbell shoulder press.jpeg

Inactive adults experience a 3% to 8% loss of muscle mass per decade, accompanied by resting metabolic rate reduction and fat accumulation.

Ten weeks of resistance training (eg with dumbells) may increase lean weight by 1.4 kg, increase resting metabolic rate by 7%, and reduce fat weight by 1.8 kg.

Benefits of dumbbell training:

  • Improved physical performance, movement control, walking speed, functional independence, cognitive abilities, and self-esteem.
  • Can assist prevention and management of type 2 diabetes by decreasing visceral fat, reducing HbA1c, increasing the density of glucose transporter type 4, and improving insulin sensitivity.
  • Can enhance cardiovascular health, by reducing resting blood pressure, decreasing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides, and increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
  • Can promote bone development, with studies showing 1% to 3% increase in bone mineral density.
  • Can be effective for reducing low back pain and easing discomfort associated with arthritis and fibromyalgia
  • Has been shown to reverse specific aging factors in skeletal muscle[3] - substantial loss of muscle mass and strength (sarcopenia), a decreased regenerative capacity, and a compromised physical performance are hallmarks of aging skeletal muscle.[4] See also Muscle Function: Effects of Aging

Compound Lifting[edit | edit source]

Compound Lift .jpeg

Compound dumbbell lifting is weightlifting that engages multiple joints and muscle groups, rather than targeting one joint and muscle group as in isolation lifting.

In compound lifting many muscles are engaged, simultaneously stimulate muscle growth. Compound lifting works multiple parts of the body is efficient and produces excellent results.

  1. The most famous compound exercise is probably the squat, that targets numerous different muscles in your legs, such as the glutes, calves and quadriceps. You can do compound exercises that are compound by nature, eg the squat[5].
  2. Alternatively, you could also perform compound exercises by doing two isolation exercises at the same time (eg bicep curls and calf raises)[5].

Benefits include

  • Burning more calories by engaging more muscle groups and joints.
  • Improves intramuscular coordination (as they are worked simultaneously).
  • Elevation in heart rate is a good cardio activity
  • Improves flexibility, strength
  • Increase in muscle mass[6].

Isolation Lifting[edit | edit source]

Bicep curl.jpeg

Compound liftings counterpart is isolation lifting. Isolation lifting refers to weightlifting that targets a single muscle group. Isolation lifting is good for lifters wanting to gain strength in a specific area. eg reps of bicep curls to target that specific muscle group.

Often beginner lifters start with isolation lifting as they want to improve strength and muscle in certain areas. As lifters become more experienced and knowledgeable, they tend to move away from isolation lifting to incorporate compound lifting into their workouts.

While isolation lifting results in the increase of specific muscle groups, it is counterintuitive to how the body works and what it knows.[6]

Correct Choice[edit | edit source]

The most important consideration is to select the load or range of load that you need.

A small assortment of dumbbells will allow you to choose the appropriate weight based on the size and number of muscle groups person will be working. eg a person will be able use the heavier weights when working legs and lighter for triceps and biceps, or use one heavier dumbbell when doing a multi-joint combination exercise, eg squat with shoulder flexion.[1]

General guidelines, using the Repetition Maximum range, to take into count when choosing the correct weight.

  • Muscle power: 1 – 6 RM per set, performed explosively.
  • Muscle strength/power: 3 – 12 RM per set, fast or controlled.
  • Muscle strength/size: 6 – 20 RM per set, controlled.
  • Muscle endurance: 15 – 20 or more RM per set, controlled[7]

Viewing[edit | edit source]

This first video "7 Compound Dumbbell Exercises" shows how to perform some of the compound dumbbell exercises (3 minutes viewing).


This second video is entitled "Upper Body Exercises for Seniors and the Elderly, Strength training for seniors" and is in the seated position with light dumbbells (11 minutes)


References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Weight Watcher Why Dumbbells Should Be Your Favorite Fitness Friends Available: https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/blog/fitness/benefits-of-dumbbells (accessed 20.10.2021)
  2. ACE fitness Total body dumbbell workout Available: https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/3718/total-body-dumbbell-workout/ (accessed 20.10.2021)
  3. Westcott WL. Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health. Current sports medicine reports. 2012 Jul 1;11(4):209-16. Available:https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22777332/ (accessed 20.10.2021)
  4. Distefano G, Goodpaster BH. Effects of exercise and aging on skeletal muscle. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine. 2018 Mar 1;8(3):a029785. Available: http://perspectivesinmedicine.cshlp.org/content/8/3/a029785.long(accessed 20.10.2021)
  5. 5.0 5.1 AMM Fitness Compound Lifting Available: https://www.ammfitness.co.uk/information-advice/compound-exercises.(accessed 20.10.2021)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Weight lifting place What Is Compound Lifting? Available:https://weightliftingplace.com/what-is-compound-lifting/ (accessed 20.10.2021)
  7. Physiopedia Strength Training Available: https://www.physio-pedia.com/index.php?title=Strength_Training&redirect=no%3Futm_source%3Dphysiopedia&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=ongoing_internal(accessed 20.10.2021)
  8. BD fitness training 7 Compound Dumbbell Exercises Available: 7 Compound Dumbbell Exercises (accessed 21.10.2021)
  9. Eldergym Fitness for Seniors Upper Body Exercises for Seniors and the Elderly, Strength training for seniors, Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBMi4Gr_9ls (accessed 21.10.2021)