It's basic physics: Add weight to one end of the lever (like holding a weight in your hand) and it builds pressure and resistance on the other end. This added force makes your muscles contract and work even harder than they would without the added weight. It doesn't matter if you're using 1 pound or 50, you can tone and shape your body with just a set of free weights!
Isolate muscle groups like the biceps with bicep curls or the triceps (back of the arm) with tricep extensions. These are simple moves to throw into any circuit or in between cardio bouts. Check out a few other effective moves you can do to target the arms, chest and back:
1. Bent Over Row: Target the arms and upper back with a simple rowing motion. Keep the elbows pointing straight behind you and keep your weights close to the body. Exhale on the row, inhale on the return and feel those shoulder blades squeeze together! Check it out by clicking here.
2. Pushup Row: Grab two dumbbells and hold on tight as you turn your pushup into a power play. Tip: Spread the feet a little wider until you master your balance as your lift one arm, bringing the weight as close to your torso as possibly. You'll work the rowing arm during the row, the stabilized arm through the back and shoulder and the chest as you push. Oh yeah, and your core is fired up and burning fat the entire time! Click here for step-by-step photos.
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3. Scissor Arms: With a pair of lighter dumbbells, maximize your shoulder mobility and back strength. This move requires your chest to be lifted and your core to be locked in tight as your upper and lower back muscles act as a corset around the torso. Sculpt your arms here.
Target the thighs and butt while strengthening your lower back and working the core. Alternate weights as low as 5 pounds and an upwards of 30 pounds for solid functional toning.
4 + 5. Donkey Kicks and Fire Hydrant: Drop to the floor on all fours and place one weight behind the knee. Squeeze the weight to keep in place and activate the hamstrings. Tap and lift, tap and lift using the booty muscles. That's the donkey kick. Bring your knee out to the side to complete the fire hydrant lifts.
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6. Dumbbell Thrusters: Want your legs and booty to burn so good? Add weight to your squat by holding the dumbbells in your hands at shoulder level. Drop into your lowest squat and push out of it at the same time you push the dumbbells overhead. This will get your heart rate up and quickly fatigue your energy reserves in the leg muscles. Check it out here.
7. Dumbbell Deadlift: Deadlifts don't target the back. In fact, they target the entire posterior chain and rely heavily on your leg strength. A proper deadlift will be felt in the glutes and hamstrings. By keeping your weights close to your body and relaxing the hands, you'll be able to lift the weight using only your booty and leg muscles. Click here for more info.
It's not all about the crunches and sit-ups. You can tone and challenge your abs with twists, dips, bends and bridges. Add dumbbells into the mix, increasing weight as your get stronger.
8. Pilates Sit-Up: Establish your love affair with Pilates by experimenting with this classic exercise. Roll the spine down to the floor and extend the arms overhead. Reverse the motion by swinging the weight above the chest, then bracing your abs as you sit up – straight up! You can even use another pair of dumbbells to place over your ankles to keep the legs on the floor. Click here for more info.
9. Corkscrew: Similar to its cousin, the woodchopper, you'll be rotating weight from one side of the body, across and to the other side. The trick here is to keep the feet planted and dip into a half squat at the bottom of the exercise. The twisting motion will work the front wall of your abs and the obliques. See more photos here!
10. Kneeling Russian Twist: Hello, core! Retrain your abdominals in this reverse hinge and twisting combo. Pull the belly button toward the spine and squeeze the butt. Time to twist! Check it out here.