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Total Body Strength with Dumbbells

The total body workout is perfect for beginners, home exercisers or for anyone who wants a simple workout that targets all the major muscles of the body: Hips, glutes, thighs, chest, back, shoulders and arms. The workout is full of tried and true classics, from squats and lunges to pushups and all you need are a few sets of dumbbells to get started. 

Precautions
See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses or other conditions.

Equipment Needed
Various weighted dumbbells, a bar or stick (e.g., broomstick or a lightly weighted bar) and a mat.

How To

  • Begin with a 5- to 10-minute warm-up of light cardio (walking in place, etc.)
  • Beginners: Perform 1 set of 12 reps of each exercise, resting for about 30 seconds between exercises. Use a moderate weight - More about how to choose your weight.
  • To progress, add a set each week (up to 3 sets), resting about 30-45 seconds between exercises.

For more challenge, try Total Body Strength 2 or Total Body Strength 3, which contain more difficult exercises.

Do this workout 2 to 3 non-consecutive days a week, taking at least one day of rest between workouts. For best weight loss results, combine this workout with regular cardio and a healthy, low-calorie diet. Click on pictures and links for more detailed instructions.

Squats

Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold weights over the shoulders or at your sides.  Keeping the abs engaged, bend the knees and lower into a squat, keeping the knees behind the toes and the back straight.  Push into the heels to stand up. Repeat for 12 reps.
Suggested Weight: 5-10 lbs for women, 8-20 lbs for men.
Hip Hinge

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and take a bar or broomstick behind your head, holding it with one hand above your head and the other end at the small of your back. The stick should be in contact with your head, between the shoulders and your tailbone. Shift the weight to your heels and push your hips back as you hinge forward at the hips, bending the knees slightly, until your torso is at about a 45-degree angle. Keep the stick in contact with all 3 points during the movement. Contract the glutes to stand up, again keeping the stick in contact with your head, shoulders and tailbone. Repeat for 12 reps.
Dumbbell Rows

For this back exercise, bend at the waist in a hip-hinge to about 45 degrees just like the above exercise. The exercise is shown with the back parallel to the floor, but if you can't do that with a flat back, stay at a higher angle. Make sure your chest is open and the shoulders are back and hold weights in each hand. Squeeze the back as you bend the elbows, pulling them up toward the torso in a rowing motion. Lower and repeat for 12 reps.
Suggested Weight: 8-12 lbs for women, 10-20 lbs for men.
Reverse Lunges
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Using a wall or chair for balance if needed, stand with feet together and step back with the right foot, taking it about 3 feet behind you and staying up on the back toe. Bend the knees and lower into a lunge without allowing the front knee to bend over the toe (you should see the tip of your shoe). Push through the front heel, step the right foot back and repeat for 12 reps before switching sides.
Overhead Presses

Sit on a chair or ball or stand, abs engaged, and hold weights just over the shoulders, keeping elbows bent like goal posts. Press the weights overhead, without arching the back, concentrating on the shoulders. Lower elbows until weights are at ear-level, and repeat for 12 reps.
Suggested Weight: 5-10 lbs for women, 8-15 lbs for men.
Side Lunges

Step out to the right, keeping the left leg straight and both feet pointing forward. As your right foot hits the ground, bend at the hips and push your glutes back as you shift all the weight to your right leg. Lunge down until the shin is almost vertical to the floor and the right knee is in line with your toes, both heels flat. Push into the right heel back to step back and repeat on the other side for a total of 12 reps.
Hammer Curls
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Stand with feet about hip-width apart, holding dumbbells with the palms facing in. Squeeze the biceps to curl the weights towards the shoulders, keeping the elbows stationary.  Slowly lower the weights, keeping a slight bend in the elbows at the bottom.  Repeat for 12 reps.
Suggested Weight: 5-10 lbs for women, 10-20 lbs for men.

Modified Pushups

Get into pushup position with your hands a bit wider than your shoulders, and your knees on the floor. Keep your back flat. Lower into a pushup until the elbows are at 90-degree angles. Push back up and repeat for 1 set of 12 reps. You can add intensity by doing the exercise on your toes, if you're able.

Tricep Extensions

Lie on the floor and hold weights straight up overhead, palms facing in. Bend the elbows and lower the weights until they're next to the ears. Straighten the arms, squeezing the triceps and repeat for 1 set of 12 reps.
Suggested Weight: 5-8 lbs for women, 8-12 lbs for men.

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