How to Design a Dumbbell Exercise Workout

How to Design a Dumbbell Exercise Workout

If you're too busy to make the trek to the gym everyday, a dumbbell routine will provide a practical way to exercise at home, at work or on-the-go. Free weights are portable and relatively inexpensive, making them the perfect fitness equipment for those with hectic schedules. Construct a simple routine and monitor your progress with a chart. The health rewards for regular strength training, such as a dumbbell workout, are substantial and include increased bone density, improved joint flexibility and weight management, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Look for open windows in your schedule. You'll need a 20- to 30-minute block of time for each workout.

Decide whether you'll do split or full-body workouts. Split workouts focus on muscle groups that work together, such as the upper arms and chest. Full body workouts utilize all the major muscle groups in one session. If you choose a full-body workout, you'll only strength train on two or three non-consecutive days to give your body 48 hours for recovery between sessions. Split workouts are a little more flexible. You can work your glutes and thighs one day, and the arms and back the next day while your legs recover.

Choose your exercises. If you've opted for a split workout, design a routine that will combine compound and isolation exercises that target only a few muscles. For instance, a bench press is a compound exercise that works the chest, deltoids and triceps. Add a military press, shoulder raise and dumbbell flyes to target the same areas of the musculature. If you are doing full-body workouts, begin with the five major compound exercises: bench press, military press, deadlift, bent over row and squats. Isolation exercises, such as bicep curls and tricep extensions, will fill out the routine.

Select appropriate weights. You should be able to do at least eight repetitions of each dumbbell exercise. If you can do more than 15 repetitions at a time, the weight you've selected is too light. It may take some experimentation to choose the proper dumbbell size for each exercise.

Write down your routine. Make a chart that includes the days of the week, sets, repetitions and the weight you will use for each exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends two to four sets of 12 to 15 repetitions for strength and power. One way to keep your workout fresh is to do one set of every exercise and then repeat the cycle one or two more times. Ideally you should include eight to 10 exercises in each routine.

Add variety to your workout. You'll notice after a few weeks that the exercises feel easier. Increase the dumbbell weight to add resistance or swap some new exercises into your routine.