Affordable, compact and with sizes from 1lb to 100lbs, dumbbells are among of the most widely used pieces of exercise equipment. Commonplace in fitness facilities and a popular option for those training at home, the exercise options with dumbbells are endless. Exercises such as the chest fly, bent-over reverse fly, lateral raise and triceps kickback provide strength to the upper body. Although lower body exercises such as squats and lunges can all be done without the use of dumbbells, employing a variety of grips, such as holding the dumbbells by the sides, at belly button height or at the shoulders, adds variety and challenges lower-body strength development.
While these exercises are proven winners in terms of increasing muscular strength and endurance, it can be fun to try some new variations to your standard dumbbell workout. The following dumbbell exercises, which involve passing the dumbbell from hand to hand and transferring it from one side of the body to the other, are great fun and demonstrate why dumbbells are so popular.
1. Suicide Drill
This multiple-progressive, distant-running drill gets a new kind of challenge by carrying a dumbbell to each set marker.
Set up: You’ll need an open space to run and one dumbbell in each size: 5lb, 8lb, 10lb and 12lb. Mark the starting point and add four markers 5- to 6-yards apart from each other to set the distance of the running drill.
Execution: Pick up and carry the 12lb dumbbell to the first marker, place it on the ground and run back to the starting line. Pick up and carry the 10lb dumbbell to the second marker, place it on the ground and run back to the starting line. Continue the pattern with the 8lb and 5lb dumbbells. This is one set.
To retrieve the dumbbells, perform the drill again but instead of running to the markers, side shuffle instead. Perform a total of four sets:
Set 1: Run and carry the dumbbells to the markers.
Set 2: Side shuffle right and retrieve the dumbbells back to the starting line.
Set 3: Run and carry the dumbbells to the markers.
Set 4: Side shuffle left and retrieve the dumbbells back to the starting line.
2. Foot Fire with 3-Point Push
This classic agility drill gets a new challenge, requiring you to coordinate the feet while pushing of the dumbbell overhead.
Set up: Begin with feet shoulder-width apart, holding onto one dumbbell, end-to-end, at chest height.
Execution: While running in place as quickly as you can, push the dumbbell overhead to the upper-right-hand corner and then return it to chest height. Push the dumbbell straight overhead and then return it to chest height. Finally, push the dumbbell overhead to the upper-left-hand corner and return it to chest height. Repeat this pattern for 30 to 60 seconds.
3. Around the Clock Pass
Passing the dumbbell from hand to hand adds a new twist to arm and shoulder training.
Set up: Begin with feet shoulder-width apart, arms by your sides, holding one dumbbell in the right hand.
Execution: Simultaneously lift both arms out to the sides into a “T” position. Turn palms up and lift both arms overhead and pass the dumbbell to the left hand. Lower both arms back down to the “T” position and turn palms down. Return both arms back to the starting position. Reverse the movement with the dumbbell in the left hand. This is one rep. Perform two sets of five reps.
4. Roll Up/Go Under/Roll Down
No medicine ball? No problem. The compact size of the dumbbell makes it easy to pass in this fun abdominal exercise.
Set up: Begin lying on your back, with feet flat and knees pointing toward the ceiling. Hold one dumbbell at chest level.
Execution: Roll up. Lift both feet off the floor and pass the dumbbell underneath the legs from the right hand to the left. Place feet back on the floor, hold the dumbbell at chest level and roll back down to the starting position. Reverse the direction and pass the dumbbell underneath the legs from the left hand to the right. This is one rep. Perform two sets of five reps.
5. Forearm Plank With Dumbbell Transfer
Challenge core stability by adding load to this popular plank exercise.
Set up: You’ll need three 5lb dumbbells. Begin in forearm plank position with the dumbbells to the right side of the upper body.
Execution: While maintaining a forearm plank, transfer the dumbbells from the right side of the body to the left, and then back to the right. Release the plank for a few seconds and repeat this pattern. One rep is transferring the weights to the left and back to the starting position. Perform two sets of two to four reps.