Why This Exercise?
It will soon be spring and summer and time for sleeveless tops, not to mention bathing suits. Here are three easy exercises you can do at home that require only one or two pair of dumbbells.
Why Free Weights Instead of Machines?
Free weights, also known as dumbbells, are definitely not for dumbbells. They are, in fact, a smart and savvy training technique that doesn’t simply represent an amount of weight that can be lifted. Used properly, dumbbells train each side of the body equally, not allowing a lazy arm to be supplemented by the stronger limb as often happens with machine circuit training. And further compared with machines designed to mimic the same general exercise, they more strongly test both your balance and your control of the weight in space, i.e., against gravity – a significant component of the strength you’re trying to build. Lastly important, this series of exercises can easily be accomplished at home by an investment of only two or three weight sets – you don’t have to join a gym.
Effective Free Weight Exercises
Free weights are an especially effective and accurate way to target the deltoid muscles group -the “cap” of the shoulder area. Defining these muscles does not make you look masculine as many women fear. Instead, they make your waist and hips look smaller in contrast, as you work to develop an upside-down triangle. Here are three exercises that work the front, rear, and sides of the deltoids.
This exercise, a combination Lateral Raise and Dumbbell Press, is one my favorite for the front (anterior) and side (medial) areas of the deltoids. I’ve seen it done seated or standing, and I usually do it seated on a bench with a back and using a reverse pyramid (40 lbs. x 4, 35 lbs. x 6, 30 lbs. x 8, 25 lbs. x 10 and 20 lbs. x 12).
Standing or sitting, hold one dumbbell in each hand with palms and closed knuckles facing toward you. Together, press the weights up over your head while slowly rotating your hands so that at the top of the movement your palms face away from you. Hold the pose briefly and then very slowly reverse the motion.
Standing Lateral Raises
I love this exercise for its results, but hate it because I have to use such low weights, such as 5 to 10 lbs., on it that I feel silly. But you only see results on this exercise if you use a weight that you can control throughout the motion. It is an excellent exercise for the outside head of the deltoids. Use only a dumbbell weight that you can control both the upward and downward movement without “cheating” by rocking, swinging, or coasting on the downward motion.
Sitting or standing with your feet about a foot apart, take a dumbbell in each hand. Leaning forward very slightly, slowly raise each dumbbell to either side slightly higher than your shoulders, then lower the weights slowly and with complete control, not letting gravity do the work for you. Begin each new raise repetition from a dead stop.
Standing Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raises
This exercise is excellent for shaping the rear (posterior) deltoids and upper back. You can generally use a slightly higher pound dumbbell for this exercise as combined with the standing lateral raise exercise noted above.
Stand with feet together and bend forward at the waist at a 45* angle with your arms dangling over your feet and your palms facing each other. Raising only your arms, lift the dumbbells to your head level. Lower the weights slowly and with complete control, not allowing gravity to do the work for you. Begin each new raise repetition from a dead stop.
Have a happy and safe lift!
Schwarzenegger, Arnold. The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding. Simon & Schuster, 1998.