Dumbbell (Free Weight) Exercises

You will find dumbbells in any gym, but you can also purchase them and use them at home. They are relatively inexpensive and can be easily stored under a sofa or bed. Having as few as two or three sets of dumbbells greatly increases your home strength training options. You can also find adjustable versions, which allow you to quickly change the load, giving a wide range of options.


A classic among exercises that build back strength, the bent-over row is a must in your workout routine, whether with dumbbells, a barbell, or a resistance band.


  1. Begin the movement by placing your feet at shoulder width and your toes pointed slightly out.
  2. Bend slightly at the knees and forward at the hips. Maintain a braced core and flat back throughout.
  3. Leading with your elbows, pull the dumbbells back, bringing your shoulder blades closer together. Hold this contraction and slowly release to the starting position.
  4. Slowly lower the dumbbells. Repeat.

Safety Tip: Keep your back flat. Do not curve your spine forward.


Use the weight that fatigues your muscles in the 12-repetition range. If you have a piece of furniture that can mimic the weight bench, feel free to use that; otherwise, lie flat on the floor with your legs fully extended or bent with feet on the floor.


  1. Lie on the floor, bench, or furniture with a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Begin with your arms fully extended.
  3. Slowly lower the dumbbells until your arms are at 90 degrees. If you’re on the floor, the backs of your upper arms should barely brush the floor (do not rest down).
  4. Push the dumbbells back up until the arms are straight.
  5. Arch the weights together at the top of the movement. Repeat.

Safety Tip: Clutch the dumbbells close to your belly and sit upright in between sets and when you’re done. Avoid getting into the habit of dropping them on the floor while lying down.


This exercise targets the upper portion of the chest. The incline press also hits the anterior head of the deltoid muscle of the shoulders, or the front part of your shoulder a little more than the flat-bench version.


  1. Set the incline of the incline bench at about 30 degrees.
  2. Pick up the dumbbells off the floor using a neutral grip, with your palms facing inward. Position the ends of the dumbbells in your hip crease and sit down on the edge of the bench.
  3. To get into position, lie back and keep the weights close to your chest. Once you are in position, take a deep breath, and press the dumbbells toward the ceiling until your arms are fully extended.
  4. Slowly lower the dumbbells with control as far as comfortably possible (the dumbbells should be about level with your chest).
  5. Contract the chest and push the dumbbells back up to the starting position.
  6. Repeat to the desired number of reps.

Safety Tip: Clutch the dumbbells close to your belly and sit upright in between sets and when you’re done. Avoid getting into the habit of dropping them on the floor while lying down, which can be very hard on the shoulder joints.


The lateral raise is an upper body isolation exercise for building shoulder strength. This exercise focuses on the medial head of the deltoid and can be done with dumbbells or a resistance band.


  1. Stand with your feet together or hip-distance apart, with slightly bent knees.
  2. Begin with your arms by your sides with your palms facing inward. You may bring your arms in front of you so that the dumbbells are almost touching.
  1. Keeping your arms straight, slowly raise your arms to the sides until they’re shoulder height and parallel to the floor.
  2. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat using slow, controlled motions.

Tip: Keep your elbows slightly bent throughout the motion. The elbow joint does not move whatsoever for the duration of the exercise.


The overhead press can be done seated or standing. It can also be done with a resistance band or dumbbells.


  1. Begin with arms out to the sides, with elbows bent at 90 degrees and palms facing forward.
  2. Tighten your abdominals and avoid arching your back.
  3. Press the dumbbells up and stop once your upper arms are fully extended. Do not lock out the elbows.
  1. Lower to the starting position and begin again.

Safety Tip: Do not excessively arch your low back. If you find you are doing that, stop and rest or lighten the weight. You can also alternate arms, rather than pressing both at once.


This exercise can be done with either a dumbbell or resistance band.


  1. Stand in a split stance, leaning forward to approximately 45 degrees.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in one hand with the other hand on your leg, or support yourself by holding on to a stable object while in that position.
  1. Extend the forearm back until your arm is straight and parallel to the floor.
  2. Squeeze the back of your upper arm at the top of the motion before lowering.
  3. Repeat to the desired number of reps.

Tip: It’s important to pause for a second or two while the arm is fully extended back so that you can squeeze the triceps. Use controlled motions in both directions.


Strengthening the triceps will help you with functional strength, like pushing things away, pushing yourself up off the floor, or getting out of the tub.


  1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and dumbbells held in front of you. Knees should be slightly bent.
  2. Raise the dumbbells above your head until your arms are fully extended upward.
  3. Slowly lower the weights back behind your head, being careful not to flare your elbows out too much.
  4. Once your forearms dip below parallel to the floor, bring the weight back up to the starting position.
  5. Squeeze your triceps at the top for a second or two before lowering again. Use slow, controlled motions.

Tip: Your upper arms should remain in place throughout the movement. Only the forearms move.


Incorporating bicep curl and overhead press into one exercise allows you to quickly target many of the muscles in the upper body.


  1. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Hold one dumbbell in each hand next to your legs.
  2. Bend your elbows and raise the dumbbells to your shoulders with your palms facing your chest.
  3. Twist your hands so that your palms are facing away from you and push the dumbbells over your head.
  4. Bend your elbows and lower the weights to your shoulders, twisting your wrists as you lower, so that your palms are again facing you.
  5. Lower the weights to your sides into the starting position so that your palms are facing away from you at the bottom. Repeat to the desired number of reps.

Safety Tip: Be careful not to rock your torso or use any momentum other than what is described. Engage your core.


Standing bicep curls can also be done with a resistance band by standing in the middle of the band and holding the two handles as if they were dumbbells.


  1. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and knees slightly bent.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand (or small barbell in both hands) slightly in front of your hips, with your palms facing forward. Lock your elbows into your sides.
  3. Lift both dumbbells toward the shoulder until your palms are facing your shoulders and the elbow is pointing to the ground, with the forearm almost vertical.
  4. Slowly lower the weight until your arms are fully or almost fully extended.
  5. Repeat to the desired number of reps.

Safety Tip: If you find yourself rocking (using your back) in order to lift the weight, stop the set. It means you’ve lost form and you should not continue. You may consider lightening the weight a little or doing fewer repetitions.


Being seated and alternating arms both serve to make this version easier than standing and using both arms at once.


  1. At home, use a chair that gives enough clearance for your arms and dumbbells as you lower them. At the gym, sit at the end of a weight bench.
  2. Begin with both arms relaxed and extended downward.
  3. Lift one dumbbell toward your shoulder and slowly lower.
  4. Once that dumbbell has been completely lowered, lift the other side. Completely lower the dumbbell and repeat on the original side.
  5. Complete the desired number of reps on each side.


The calf muscles are often referred to as the second heart. So, you will want to keep those calves strong to help with blood circulation.


  1. Sit on a chair or bench with your feet flat on the floor and dumbbells positioned on your thighs but close to your knees.
  2. Keeping the dumbbells firmly pressed against your knees, slowly raise your heels up off of the floor as far as possible, squeezing your calves and holding for a second or two.
  3. Return back to the starting position and repeat to the desired number of reps.

Tip: For greater range of motion, use a small platform to elevate the feet, such as a couple of books (home) or weight plates (gym) of the same thickness. This will allow you to dip the heels down before pressing back up.


This is a variation on squats that guarantees to help with power, strength, and balance.


  1. Hold two dumbbells and stand with your feet hip-width apart and toes turned slightly outward.
  2. Drop into a squat by hinging at your hips.
  3. Drop your hips enough so that your thighs are parallel to the floor or below.
  4. Once your legs are straight, lift your heels off of the ground and perform a calf raise onto the balls of your feet. Squeeze and hold for a second or two.
  5. Drop your heels back down, returning to the bottom of the squat position.
  6. Repeat to the desired number of reps.


Once you have mastered the bodyweight squat, you can add resistance. You can do this either with the resistance band (here) or with dumbbells.


  1. Set your feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out.
  2. Initiate the movement by pushing your hips back first. (Like you’re shutting the car door with your glutes because your hands are full.)
  3. Slowly bend at the knees, continuing to push your hips back until your thighs are as close to parallel to the floor as possible.
  4. At the bottom of the movement, pause for a second or two and strongly push back up to the starting position.
  5. Keep your chin parallel to the floor and keep your back straight.
  6. Repeat to the desired number of reps.


This is a great exercise for balance in addition to posterior-chain strength.


  1. Hold two dumbbells in front of your thighs, with your palms facing inward. If you need a little help with balance, stand alongside a wall or secure piece of gym equipment to use as a stabilizer when you feel wobbly. In this case, hold the dumbbell in the right hand and stand on the right leg with the wall to your left.
  2. Slowly lift one leg straight behind you, bending the standing leg only slightly.
  3. Hinge forward so that your arms lower the dumbbell(s) toward the floor. Keep your back flat.
  4. You should feel a stretch in the standing-leg hamstring. Pause, then return to upright position.
  5. Repeat to the desired number of reps before switching legs. If using one dumbbell, turn around and work the opposite leg, with the wall on your other side.

Tip: For the balance-assisted version, try not to rely completely on the stable object. Simply have your hand ready to touch the object when necessary.


All the muscles utilized in this movement are important for everyday function and mobility.


  1. Find a location at home or in the gym where you can complete numerous steps in succession.
  2. Begin by standing with your shoulders back and a dumbbell in each hand, hanging down at your sides. (Try without dumbbells at first if added weight is too challenging.)
  3. Step forward with one leg, flexing the knees to drop straight down.
  4. Descend until your rear knee nearly touches the ground and your front thigh is as close to parallel to the floor as possible.
  5. Your posture should remain upright, and your front knee should stay above the front ankle.
  6. Repeat to the desired number of reps with each leg.

Tip: To help strengthen your hips, try to bring your rear leg all the way forward without tapping down mid-step.

Safety Tip: Press through the heel of your front foot to push back up. Do not let the front knee extend beyond your toes.


You can combine two exercises into one move to efficiently target even more muscles.


  1. Start in a split-stance position, with one leg forward and one leg back, with the rear heel off the floor.
  2. Flex your knees and drop straight down until the back knee is just above the floor. Squeeze your biceps and curl the dumbbells upward.
  3. Stand back up by pushing through the front heel, and slowly lower the arms. Keep your shoulders back and body upright.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat to the desired number of reps. Switch legs and repeat.

Safety Tip: Tuck your elbows into your torso throughout the movement to avoid swinging the dumbbells and rocking your torso.


Reverse lunges put less stress on your knees than the forward lunge and give you a bit more stability in your front leg.


  1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand by your side.
  2. Step back (about two feet) with your left foot, landing on the ball of your left foot and keeping your heel off the ground.
  3. Bend both knees to create two 90-degree angles with your legs while lifting the dumbbells upwards, bringing palms towards your chest. Keep elbows tucked into your torso.
  4. In this positioning, your shoulders should be directly above your hips and your chest should be upright (no leaning forward or back). Your right shin should be perpendicular to the floor and your right knee should be stacked above your right ankle. Your glutes and core should be engaged.
  5. Push through the heel of your right foot to return to standing.
  6. Repeat to the desired number of reps on each side.

Tip: You may alternate legs or complete your reps on one leg before switching sides.


This exercise begins with a squat and ends with an overhead press and works the entire body in a single fluid motion. It helps improve coordination, muscular endurance, and balance. It also develops core stability.


  1. Stand tall with your back and legs straight, feet hip-distance apart, and toes pointing forward. Hold the dumbbells in front of your shoulders, with elbows bent and your palms facing outward.
  2. Bend your knees and hips to squat down, keeping the chest lifted, back straight, and knees behind your toes.
  3. Straighten your legs to the starting position.
  4. Press the weights overhead in line with your shoulders to straighten (but not lock) the arms, with your palms facing outward.
  1. Slowly lower the weights back down in front of your shoulders to complete one rep.

Tip: Keep your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears on the overhead press.


Glute activation in the squat phase of the exercise makes it a fantastic exercise for lower body strength, while the front raise will help improve shoulder strength and mobility.


  1. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes turned out.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your hips.
  3. Push your hips back and squat down, keeping your chest up and knees out.
  4. As you squat down, lower the dumbbells in a slow, controlled manner, so that they are between your knees at the bottom of the movement.
  5. Return to a standing position while extending your arms straight out in front of you until they’re parallel to the floor.
  6. Repeat to the desired number of reps.

Safety Tip: Always used slow, controlled motions as you raise and lower the dumbbells. Be careful not to swing.


Increasing lateral stability is key for injury prevention and enhanced performance with everyday life.


  1. Start with your feet hip-width apart and dumbbells in hand.
  2. Take a large step and lunge out to the right. Concentrate on sitting back into the right hip. Keep your torso as upright as possible.
  3. With your palms facing upward, curl your arms up toward your shoulders, contracting your biceps as you step. Keep your elbows close to your sides.
  4. Push off the bent leg and return back to standing. Alternate legs.
  5. Repeat to the desired number of reps on each side.

Safety Tip: As you step to the side, you will feel quite a stretch in the opposite inner thigh. It is a good idea to know how far you can comfortably step first. Stand in the lateral lunge position without weights and feel the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds on each side.

Do You Have to Take Supplements with Dumbbell Exercise?

Dumbbell exercise boosts fat loss by enhancing both the afterburn after exercise and increasing muscle size, thus increasing resting metabolism.

Some people might also use natural fat burners as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle to increase metabolism or decrease appetite. When combined with a healthy diet, it will further increase the loss of excess body fat – and may also have other beneficial effects.

Resurge is of the most popular weight loss supplements that promise to help you shed pounds and sleep better. Because studies have shown that sleep deprivation is associated with deficiencies of growth hormone and elevated levels of cortisol, both of which contribute to obesity.

While other supplements promote nutritional factors, meal replacement forms, appetite suppression, or similar effects, Resurge boosts your body’s metabolism by increasing your core temperature. However, before making any purchases, you might want to read some Resurge reviews because the supplement industry is rife with scams.

Besides, it should be noted that supplements are ineffective on their own and are hardly a solution to obesity. Pills or supplements only work when combined with a healthy weight-loss diet and regular exercise.

In any case, it’s always best to talk with your doctor before you start taking a supplement, especially if you are taking medications or have any health concerns.

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