How To Use Dumbbells And The Best Exercises For Beginners 

Are you interested in improving your strength training routine? Now is the time to invest in a set of dumbbells (or use the ones at the gym). Exercises that use only your body weight, such as push-ups and squats, are an excellent place to start; but, if you want to take your fitness to the next level, adding weights to these exercises, such as dumbbells, may help you achieve your fitness objectives more quickly.

Dumbbell training can be extremely beneficial to any lifter's journey. Dumbbell training can assist you in gaining muscle mass, improving your coordination, rebalancing your muscle groups, and even gaining strength.

Are your circuits using only your body weight getting a little too easy? You want to increase some weight, but you can't bring yourself to face the testosterone-filled environment that is the squat rack. Then dumbbells are the way to go for you.

Whether you're cooped up indoors or making the most of a hotel gym (or maybe even your home gym) doesn't matter. You can't deny the effectiveness of doing workouts with dumbbells. They offer incredible versatility, enabling you to train certain portions of the body and the entire body. Reduce your weight to increase the difficulty of a high-intensity interval training circuit.

Lifting big weights, working through supersets, and spending more time under tension effectively maximise hypertrophy. You can use them instead of barbells and kettlebells to achieve the results you want, whether those results are weight loss, increased muscle mass, increased endurance, or just a body that appears to be more athletic.

It's easy to get in a good cardio workout even if you don't have any specialist equipment: Put some sneakers on and go for a jog or a stroll outside. On the other hand, having some equipment is beneficial for strength training.

It is where an at-home set of adjustable dumbbells can greatly assist you. These items, which enable you to alter the weight on a single pair of dumbbells, usually between 5 and 50 pounds, have become quite popular; this is especially the case given that people have been spending more time at home for the previous year and a half. Moreover, they only take up a little room. And since they are modifiable and can be set for a wide variety of weights, they may assist anyone in increasing their general strength and improving their ability to carry out the tasks of daily living better. 

The Beginner's Guide to Using Dumbbells for a Full-Body Workout

How to Choose the Right Dumbbell Weight

One of the scariest barriers standing in the way of beginning workouts with dumbbells? You may need to figure out what weights to use.

First things first—make sure you are familiar with the workout movements and can do them with proper form, even if that means forgoing weights for the first while when beginning a new workout routine. Start with no weights to perfect your form before adding dumbbells, whether you've never used weights before or are brand new. Even if you don't use weights, you can still work up a sweat.

As soon as you feel comfortable performing the movement, you can use lighter dumbbells, such as those weighing 3, 5, 8, or 10 pounds. With these, you can start making an impact right away. However, if you find these too light, you may always try heavier weights for your next workout or as you become accustomed to the routine.

Still, trying to understand the difference between a lightweight and a hefty weight? Considering it in this light, a strength and conditioning coach at Fyt and a personal trainer certified by the NASM. Finding the correct weight for a specific activity implies that you can perform the exercise for the recommended number of reps and sets while completing the whole range of motion. The perfect weight for an exercise means finding the perfect weight for that exercise. The weight is too heavy if you feel like you're getting tired too quickly or your range of motion is growing shorter.

Dumbbell Proper Form  

Working out with dumbbells requires careful attention to technique to avoid injury. Before adding weight to your routine, ensure your technique is solid and familiar with the exercises. Then when working with athletes or customers for the first time, weight doesn't matter.

If this is your first time working out, it is highly recommended that you seek the assistance of a professional personal trainer or a strength and conditioning coach. This person will be able to see you perform each activity and ensure that you are performing them correctly. They can also assist you in determining when you are ready to progress to lifting bigger weights by indicating this to you.

You can always watch videos online or ask a reliable friend to critique your form if you do not have access to a personal trainer. 

Upper-Body Dumbbell Exercises

It would be best if you incorporated dumbbells into your routine when performing workouts targeting the upper-body muscles, such as the shoulders, arms, and chest. If you are new to these exercises, you begin by perfecting your form using only your body weight and not any weights. After that, as your strength improves, add dumbbells in one to two-pound increments at a time each week.

Combine the training you put in at the gym with these moves to obtain a complete upper-body workout. You should only perform five to ten repetitions of each exercise before pausing for a break. Complete up to three sets of repetitions.

  • Biceps curls 
  • Military press
  • Triceps extensions 
  • Chest flys 
  • Lateral raises

Leg/Lower-Body Dumbbell Exercises 

You can perform various lower-body exercises with dumbbells that target the hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, glutes, and hips. As you did with the exercises for your upper body, you should begin by perfecting your form using only your body weight and not dumbbells. After that, as your strength increases, add dumbbells to your routine in increments of 1-2 pounds per week.

Combine the effort of these several exercises to achieve a complete workout for your lower body. You should only perform five to ten repetitions of each exercise before pausing for a break. Complete up to three sets of repetitions.

  • Deadlifts
  • Squats
  • Lunges 

Core Moves with Dumbbells 

You can also use dumbbells for core exercises. The following are some examples of abdominal workouts that can be performed while holding dumbbells:

  • Russian twists 
  • Side plank raises 
  • Halos 

Consider that working out your core with dumbbells can be difficult; therefore, it is best, to begin with a modest weight, such as 1, 2, or 3 pounds.

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How Often Should You Work Out With Dumbbells? 

When you first start, ease into full-body dumbbell workouts by including them gradually into your weekly regimen. It is great to start your athletes and customers with a strong regimen of two to three times a week. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, you should lift dumbbells; on the other days, you should give yourself a break. Next, include cardiovascular exercise for greater motion.

You should also perform workouts that target the entire body rather than attempting to target individual muscle groups on separate days. For example, you can create a full-body workout by combining the exercises for the upper body, lower body, and core described before, or you can mix and match the different movements. You will be developing something other than isolated but functional strength if you train in this manner. It could be of assistance to you in the motions you perform daily and make you feel stronger all around.

What to Know About Dumbbells

Strength Boost

At least two days of strength exercise per week is what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends for adults. The focus of strength training is the use of weights to develop stronger muscles. You must fight against gravity to lift weights or move dumbbells into specific positions during weight training.

Strength training not only helps you build muscle, but it also raises your heart rate, which in turn makes it easier to lose weight.

Small bars with equal weights on either end are known as dumbbells. These bars are designed to fit in the palm of your hand. They might be as little as 2 pounds or as much as more than 100 pounds in total weight.

They appear to be simple enough to use. You must pick them up, raise them, relocate them, and then set them back down. However, it's more complicated than that. Consider working with a professional or certified personal trainer if you're new to utilising dumbbells to strengthen your muscles. In addition, you can get assistance with the following from a fitness professional:

  • Form and method that is accurate
  • Recognising the bounds of your abilities
  • Activities that challenge every one of your muscle groups
  • The total number of reps that should be completed during each set

Remember to warm up. If your muscles are cold, you have an increased risk of sustaining an injury. Warm up your muscles and get them ready for dumbbell work by going for a brisk walk or engaging in any other form of cardiovascular activity for at least ten minutes.

Complete a single set. Choose a weight that will cause your muscles to become fatigued after you have completed 12 to 15 repetitions. Then, doing just one set of that will provide you with the same benefits for gaining muscle as doing three sets in total.

Use the right weight. If, after performing one exercise with dumbbells, you feel like you can continue working out for another 12–15 repetitions, the weight you are using is too light. The objective is to push yourself to the point where you can barely complete the final repetition.

Remember to rest. Dumbbell exercises are equally as vital as taking breaks between sets. Pay attention to how your body tells you to feel and stop what you're doing if it hurts. Between training sessions, you should give each muscle group at least one full day of rest. 

Pros of Dumbbells

Improved circulation. Working your muscles with dumbbells forces your heart to beat faster, increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients transported throughout your body.

Lower health risks. Lifting weights with dumbbells is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. In addition, weightlifting is beneficial for fat loss since it increases the amount of lean muscle mass in your body.

Better sleep. A better night's sleep may result from lifting weights with dumbbells in the gym. And improved sleep quality leads to enhanced performance in your workouts.

Weight loss. Building lean muscle mass and increasing your metabolic rate can contribute to weight loss. However, your efforts to shed extra pounds can only go so far with cardio alone. Working on your strength is essential to get the finest results.

Cons of Dumbbells

Tendency to hold your breath. Dumbbells are a rigorous exercise, and you can find that you are holding your breath without realising it. You should be conscious of breathing to prevent increased blood pressure during your dumbbell workout. Because of this, you have an increased chance of developing a hernia.

Injury risk. You may want to exercise more frequently after you begin strength training with dumbbells. Do not put undue pressure on yourself, as doing so increases the likelihood of sustaining an injury. If you lift with improper form when you're working out, you put yourself at risk of getting hurt.

10 Dumbbell Workouts For Beginners

Choosing the right set of dumbbells

There is a large selection available, and the variety of choices may feel daunting. Many people start with lighter weights but quickly go up to bigger ones, which can put them at risk for injury. Because there is no one standard for everyone's strength levels, you need to be sure that the weight you are using is appropriate. If you are new to working out with dumbbells, it is recommended that you choose a weight between 1 kg and 7 kg; however, if you have already done some strength training, it is recommended that you use a weight of 10 kg.

Do you still need clarification about which weight to get? Why don't you give a set of adjustable dumbbells a shot? You may modify them to the weight that you want, and you can save money in the long run as a result of the fact that you can gradually raise your weight.

The workouts listed here serve as an excellent primer for starting dumbbell training. Each of these workouts focuses on a different location while simultaneously increasing your strength and the amount of muscle you have. 

1. Dumbbell Standing Shoulder Press

Shoulder strength, stability, and symmetry can all be improved with the help of the standing shoulder press, an outstanding unilateral shoulder press exercise. If you want to increase muscle in your shoulders, this is the perfect exercise for you to do.


  • First, position your feet so that they are shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip. Next, raise the dumbbells to shoulder height.
  • Lift the weights until your arms are completely extended above your head.
  • Proceed cautiously back to the starting location.

The dumbbells you use are too heavy if you can only fully extend your arms above your head if you bend at the waist. Also, because of the strain you put on your back, you must immediately reduce the weight you lift.

2. Dumbbell Squat

The squat with dumbbells is an excellent exercise for exercising all the major muscle groups in your legs. These are the quadriceps (the muscles at the front of the thigh), the gluteus maximus (the buttocks), the hamstring (the muscle in the rear of your thigh), and the soleus (the muscle at the bottom of your foot) (muscles in the calf).


  • To begin, position your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing the side of your legs. Maintaining a downward gaze will throw off your equilibrium, so make sure to keep your head up at all times. A straight back will be easier to achieve as a result of this.
  • To get started, bend your knees to lower your torso while maintaining a straight head and neck position. Lower your torso as slowly as you can. It is important to maintain proper alignment of the knees and toes. If your knees go past your toes while standing, you are putting excessive stress on your knees.
  • As you come back up, start to exhale and utilise the heel of your foot to stabilise your legs as you return to the starting position. Continue doing this until you have returned to the starting position.
  • Continue doing this until you have completed the suggested amount of reps.

Take caution while performing this exercise; if you are unsure about the appropriate weight, we suggest starting with a lower weight and gradually working your way up to the target weight if you can do so.

3. Farmers Walk

It is a versatile and useful practice. It works almost all of the major muscles in your body, from the glutes to the trapezius muscle, which is responsible for moving your shoulder bones and supporting your arms.


  • The first step is to position the dumbbells so they are slightly in front of you on the ground.
  • Lift the weights off the ground by bringing one leg in front of you, bending your hips and knees while maintaining a straight back position, and bringing the other leg behind you.
  • Once you have returned to a standing posture, be careful not to strain your back as you pick up the items.
  • Start walking with the dumbbells on either side of you, bringing your knees up to meet your hips as you walk. When you walk, your knees should be level with your hips.
  • Determine a manageable distance for you, and when you reach that point, set the dumbbells down on the floor and start the exercise again.

We suggest performing this workout in three sets of ten repetitions, with a 90-second pause between each set.


4. Lateral Raise

You can significantly improve shoulder strength through lateral rise, which is a great exercise.


  • Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand and bringing them down to your sides while sitting or standing.
  • Maintain a straight back, contract your abdominal muscles, and then slowly lift the dumbbells out to the side until your arms are parallel with the floor and your elbows are bent just a little bit.
  • Repeat while slowly bringing your arms back into the starting position.

It would be best if you aimed to complete 10 to 12 repetitions of this exercise, keeping your arms at or below parallel at all times while elevating the dumbbells. If your arms are slipping forward, consider using a lesser weight.

5. Dumbbell Calf Raise

If you want to build muscle strength in your calves, this is the ideal workout. It is perfect for runners since it improves stability and balance, lowering the likelihood of knee and ankle ailments. Ideal for those who run long distances.


  • The first thing you should do is stand up straight and hold the dumbbells at your sides.
  • Raise your heels off the floor while simultaneously contracting your claves, ensuring that your toes are pointed forward.
  • Repeat the motion while gradually moving back to the beginning position.

To reduce the risk of damage, we suggest beginning with three to four sets of ten repetitions and ensuring that your knees remain locked throughout the exercise.

6. Bicep Curl

This exercise targets the bicep muscles in the front of the upper arm and the muscles in the lower arm. It is appropriate for beginners. The muscles that are strengthened through exercise are essential to day-to-day activities since they are the ones that are employed while grasping an object.


  • First, position your legs so they are hip-width apart and ensure your abdominal muscles are tight.
  • Relax your arms while holding a dumbbell in each hand, and turn your hands so they are facing front.
  • Bend your elbows and lift the weights towards your shoulders while maintaining the stability of your arms and a relaxed shoulder position. Keep your elbows tucked in close to your ribs at all times. Exhale while you lift weights to get the most out of your workout.
  • Repeat the motion while gradually moving back to the beginning position.

Before taking a 45-second break, you should complete three sets of five to ten repetitions of this exercise.

7. Dumbbell step-up

It is yet another exercise that can be adapted to meet the needs of a wide range of individuals, making it a true all-rounder. It is a workout with a little impact that is wonderful for cardiovascular health and will increase strength equally on both sides. It also boosts balance and stabilisation, which is an additional advantage.

Before moving on to the exercise's major part, you must consider two factors.

  • Step Height: You can use anything, from a chair to the bottom step of your stairs, as a step; however, if you are a beginner, the best way to start would be on a low step, between 6 and 8 inches in height. Step Material: You can use anything, from a chair to the bottom step of your stairs, as a step. As soon as you feel comfortable at that height, begin gradually increasing the height of the step until it is level with the top of your thigh. Your hamstrings and glutes will get a good workout with this move.
  • Weight: To begin, choose a weight that is manageable for your arms but does not place an undue strain on your back. If your goal is to grow muscle, you can gradually raise the weight size, but if your goal is to improve your cardio fitness, you should use a lower weight and perform the repetitions more quickly.


  • Holding the dumbbells in your hands, draw them towards your body and cross them over your collarbones. It is the first step.
  • Use the step and position your right foot so your heel touches it. It will help you to stabilise your leg.
  • Bring your left foot up to meet it, and watch to see that your knees aren't going any further out than your toes. You may need to take a small step forward while ensuring that you don't put too much pressure on your knee joint. If that is the case, try to avoid rounding your shoulders. To maintain correct posture, keep your chest lifted and your shoulders back.
  • Stepping off the step requires bending the right knee, taking a step down with the left foot and then bringing the right foot down to the ground to meet the left foot already there.

You can continue doing this for a certain amount of repetitions or set a timer for one minute if you start. Keep in mind that you should let your leading leg do all the work and keep a straight back.

8. Dumbbell Floor Press

Strength in the upper body is the primary objective of the dumbbell floor press, with particular attention paid to the chest, triceps, and shoulders. Because it requires a lot of your core power, you will feel it even though it is a simple workout.


  • First, assume a seated position on the ground with your legs extended in front of you and your dumbbells arranged in a vertical line alongside them.
  • Get a grip on them, bend your knees and place the bottom of the dumbbells on your thighs. It is the starting position.
  • As you slowly recline backward, raise your arms so your elbows align with your ribs and hold the dumbbells above your head.
  • While maintaining a neutral grip on both dumbbells, slowly extend your arms so they are above your chest level.
  • Please take a deep breath in and slowly lower the dumbbells till they are in the beginning position. Pay attention to maintaining control of the movement and preventing your elbows from bouncing off the floor.
  • Repeat until you have completed the required number of repetitions.

Boxing Training

9. Thrusters

Coordination, muscular endurance, and balance are all areas that can benefit greatly from the workout known as the thruster. In addition, it is the perfect exercise to engage your core, quadriceps, glutes, and shoulders.


  • First, position your legs so that they are shoulder-width apart and grab the dumbbells with an overhand hold. Your hands should also be spaced about the breadth of your shoulders.
  • Maintaining a straight back, bring your shoulders back and down while maintaining a tiny bend in your knees without locking them. Do this while keeping your back straight.
  • Bring the dumbbells up to your collarbone or just over your shoulders in a slow, controlled motion.
  • As you progressively lower your body into a squat position, you should ensure that your elbows are facing forward and tighten your core while extending your chest.
  • If you have the strength, try lowering your glutes as if you were going to sit down. It will help strengthen your core.

To return to a standing position:

  • Contract your abdominal muscles again, and then move your knees outwards ever-so-slightly to improve your stability.
  • As you swiftly return to a standing position, press your heels into the floor and bring your elbows up.
  • Repeat the previous step while bringing your arms back down.

10. Weighted reverse lunge

The weighted reverse lunge is an effective exercise that engages the core, glutes, and hamstrings. It is an excellent workout for anyone struggling with hip mobility, knee issues, or maintaining balance.

  • First, ensure that you stand up straight and place two dumbbells on either side of your body.
  • Take a step backward with your right leg while trying to keep your straight posture.
  • As you slowly pull your knees toward your toes, keep your knees in a straight line with your toes.
  • As you exhale, please return to the starting posture by pushing yourself back into it.
  • You can make the workout more challenging by pushing yourself up into the balls of your feet to extend it.
  • When doing push-ups, placing your weight on your heels will help you target your glutes.

Perform the same motion on the other leg and alternate between the two legs until you have completed the desired repetitions. When performing this exercise, you should perform three sets of ten repetitions on each leg, with a 45-second pause between each set.

Your strength and muscular size will undoubtedly improve from performing these exercises. The most important advice we can provide you regarding these workouts is to watch out and ensure that you do not put excessive strain on your back at any stage. You can accomplish this by maintaining a straight back and shifting your weight such that your arms, hips, and legs support it. You may take a long time to recover from a back injury.

Adding Weight and Changing Things Up

It is necessary to change your workout routine to assist your body in adapting and becoming stronger. Because of this, you should train at certain times with an emphasis on endurance And train at other times with larger weights and an emphasis on strength and power. In addition, it's crucial to gradually increase the weight you lift over time because doing so will assist you in avoiding reaching a plateau and ensure that your bone and muscle health continue to develop. Because of this, once you have reached the point where you can perform your workouts with good form, you should continue to push your muscles to their limits by adding weight.

The American College of Sports Medicine frequently advocates adding weight by utilising the "two for two rule." For example, if you are performing three sets of one exercise with 12 repetitions each, and on the third and final set, you can complete two additional repetitions, you should try to do so again when you perform the exercise during your next session. When you perform that exercise once again, you should be able to increase the weight you lift if you can complete two additional repetitions beyond what you did in your previous set.

Another item that should be considered is the total amount of weight that can be added. If you use adjustable dumbbells, the weight you can add varies; it might be as much as 5 pounds or as little as 2.5 pounds. Adding 5 pounds can be a significant amount for specific exercises; therefore, if you need to complete a few more repetitions at a less weight before progressing to the next level, go ahead and do so.

When working out with adjustable dumbbells, you may run into the problem of reaching a point where there is no more weight to add to the set once you have already utilised the maximum amount available. It would help if you used a resistance band to offer additional resistance to increase the weight being lifted. However, you shouldn't just add the resistance band to the heaviest weight since it can be difficult to determine how much the additional resistance will make an activity more difficult.

Instead, when you first attempt to add in a band, choose a weight somewhat less than what you would ordinarily use. Adding a band to a workout can be beneficial even when using smaller weights because it compels you to concentrate on maintaining proper form and increases the difficulty of the exercise throughout its entirety. You may also make an exercise more difficult without adding weight to the bar by reducing the time you rest between sets or lifting very slowly. 


After spending the past few months working out in your living room using only your body weight, you are ready to try something different. And although you could certainly shake things up by purchasing a Peloton bike or a fancy trampoline, you could also choose to step up the ante on your at-home workouts by investing in one of the most fundamental (and affordable) equipment modifications that money can buy: a rowing machine. A straightforward pair of dumbbells.

If you want to enhance your overall strength, tone your muscles, and improve your balance, flexibility, and stability, including weight training in your workout routine can be a terrific method to do all of those things. However, picking up a set of weights for the first time might be intimidating. You can complement bodyweight workouts with dumbbell exercises to make the movements tougher. Conversely, you can make the routines harder by using dumbbells. Adding increasing weight to your workouts drives the muscles to adapt and rebuild themselves stronger continually, and the key to attaining those desired next-level results is engaging in highly effective workouts.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I maintain proper form while using dumbbells?

Maintaining proper form is crucial when using dumbbells to prevent injuries and maximize the effectiveness of the exercises. To maintain proper form, focus on keeping your core engaged, spine neutral, and joints in proper alignment. Avoid using momentum to lift the weights and, instead, rely on controlled movements. If you're unsure about proper form, consider working with a qualified fitness professional or watching instructional videos that demonstrate the correct technique.

Can I use dumbbells for weight loss as a beginner?

Absolutely! Dumbbells can be a valuable tool for weight loss. Strength training exercises with dumbbells help build lean muscle mass, which can increase your metabolism and assist in burning calories even when you're at rest. Combined with a balanced diet and regular cardiovascular exercise, using dumbbells can contribute to weight loss and overall body toning.

Should I focus on individual muscle areas or do a full-body workout with dumbbells?

Beginners should start with a full-body workout targeting all main muscle groups. This method builds strength and balance. You can start targeting specific muscle groups as you get better at dumbbell exercises.

Can I use dumbbells for cardio workouts?

While dumbbells are primarily used for strength training, they can be incorporated into cardio workouts to add intensity and challenge. Exercises such as dumbbell swings, walking lunges with dumbbells, or incorporating dumbbells into high-intensity interval training (HIIT) routines can elevate your heart rate and benefit your cardiovascular. However, it's important to note that traditional cardio exercises like running or cycling may not require the use of dumbbells.

How many repetitions and sets should I do when using dumbbells?

The number of repetitions and sets you should perform with dumbbells depends on your fitness goals. For beginners, it's recommended to start with 8 to 12 repetitions per exercise and aim for 2 to 3 sets. This range helps build strength and endurance without overtaxing your muscles. As you progress, you can adjust the repetitions and sets to match your increasing fitness level.

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