If you're looking to get into better shape, then there's a good chance you spend a lot of your workout time on cardiovascular exercise. After all, cardio is great for getting the heart rate up, burning fat, and increasing overall endurance. However, even if you're not necessarily looking to "get ripped," the fact remains that you should be incorporating at least some strength training into your workout routine. Doing so can help you achieve more defined and toned muscles while also aiding in your weight loss and overall fitness goals.
In fact, there are numerous health and fitness advantages that come along with regular strength training. Specifically, utilizing dumbbells as part of your strength training exercise can be a great way to progress toward your goals—whatever they may be.
Overall Benefits of Strength Training
In the simplest of terms, strength training refers to any exercise that involves using resistance to build the endurance and size of the body's muscle tissue. There are numerous options when it comes to strength training, ranging from using dumbbells and weight machines to calisthenics and everything in between. So, even if your goal isn't to achieve bulging muscles, how can you benefit from incorporating some form of strength training into your daily workouts?
Helps You Burn More Calories Overall
For starters, did you know that regular strength training, when combined with your typical cardiovascular exercise, can help you burn more calories as a whole? In fact, one study found that women who added strength training to their workouts at least three days per week were able to burn more calories during normal activity, thus helping them reach their fitness and weight goals more quickly. This happens because in addition to the calories you burn while you're actually performing a strength training exercise, your body also continues to burn additional calories after your workout due to the fact that more calories are required to build muscle than to burn fat.
So, even if you're not necessarily looking to lose anymore weight, strength training makes it easier to maintain your ideal weight while toning your muscles.
Aids in Disease Prevention
There is also some evidence to suggest that regular strength training can aid in preventing certain diseases. For example, women who have previously gone through menopause can reduce their risk of developing osteoporosis (which can lead to bone breakage and fracture) by following a strength training regimen as recommended by a doctor. Furthermore, strength training has been shown to help maintain blood glucose levels for the millions of people living with diabetes.
Increases Flexibility and Balance
In addition to helping you maintain a healthy weight and prevent certain diseases, regular strength training can also improve your overall flexibility, balance, and coordination in a way that cardiovascular exercise simple cannot. A lot of strength training exercises require you to naturally develop a better posture, which in turn helps with balance and coordination. Furthermore, the added range of motion afforded by many strength training exercises is ideal for increasing flexibility.
Protects the Bones and Muscles
Last but not least, strength training exercises can help to protect your bones and overall muscle mass. After all, did you know that after your body completed puberty, you slowly begin losing bone mass each year? This is a startling revelation for many, but the good news is that by engaging your muscles in exercise regularly (at least a few times per week), you can preserve your bone mass and protect your muscles in the process. It's a win-win situation.
Advantages of Using Dumbbells
Though there are numerous options available to you when it comes to strength training, dumbbells are a great place to start—and for a number of reasons.
Versatility and Convenience
Perhaps the greatest advantage of working with dumbbells in your strength training routine is the simple convenience and versatility that comes with using them. This is especially true if you're looking to set up a home gym; even a large set up dumbbells with varying weights doesn't take up much space (certainly much less space than having several dedicated weight lifting machines lined up). You can easily set up a collection of dumbbells along a wall without needing very much room at all, and dumbbells themselves are relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to other fitness equipment out there.
And when it comes to versatility, there is really no better option than your standard dumbbell. With just one set of dumbbells, you can perform dozens or even hundreds of different strength-building exercises. The same simply cannot be said of other strength training equipment, such as your standard weight-lifting machine. These machines are great for targeting very specific muscles in the body, but they simply don't come with the versatility that dumbbells do.
For example, with just two dumbbells, you can perform any number of the following exercises:
- bicep curls
- bench presses
- tricep kickbacks
- upright rows
- shoulder presses
As you can see, this allows you to target a number of different muscle groups without the need for several different machines. And while dumbbells are idea for targeting muscles in the upper body, they can also be used while performing lunges and squats to add resistance for a better lower body workout.
Provides Two Types of Overload
In addition to being extremely versatile, dumbbell exercises also provide the two key types of muscle overload that are needed to tone and build muscle. These are known as mechanic and metabolic overload. Mechanic overload refers to the growth stimulated by contracting the muscles, whereas metabolic overload refers to a situation where the muscle is worked to the point of fatigue, causing it to increase in size when the body repairs the muscle. Some other forms of strength training provide only one type of overload, but dumbbell exercises ensure both, which leads to a better overall workout and better results for you down the road.
Another advantage of dumbbell training that's worth mentioning is the fact that dumbbells allow you to work out one limb at a time, which is ideal for those who have injuries but don't want to give up on exercise altogether. For example, if you have an injured right shoulder, dumbbells allow you to continue getting your daily strength training in on the other arm without worrying about further aggravating your other injury. The same simply cannot be said when working out with other strength training equipment, such as a weight machine or even barbells.
Tips for Dumbbell Training
If you're thinking about incorporating dumbbell training into your daily workouts, there are some tips you'll want to keep in mind to ensure the best results and to avoid the risk of injury.
Lift With Your Legs
When picking up dumbbells of any weight off the ground, always be careful to lift with your legs and not your back! This applies even if you're only picking up a set of three-pound weights; the last thing you want is to throw out your back or otherwise injure yourself while simply picking up your dumbbells. Try to use a motion similar to a squat when picking up your dumbbells.
Watch Your Posture and Form
Another potential risk for injury when working out with dumbbells comes with improper posture and form. If you plan on incorporating dumbbell exercises into your at-home workout routine, take the time to watch some demonstration videos for various exercises so you can ensure you understand the proper posture and form required to perform the exercise. All it takes is one mistakes in terms of your posture to seriously injure yourself; if you have a gym membership, consider asking for a quick tutorial on how to perform some of the most common dumbbell exercises with proper form. When working out with dumbbells in a home gym, consider doing so in front of a full-length mirror so you can check your posture as you lift.
Know Your Limits
Finally, understand that more weight isn't always better. Ideally, you should be starting with smaller weights and very gradually working your way up to heavier ones. While it's great to challenge yourself, do know your limits and don't push yourself too hard. Trying to lift weights that are too heavy for your muscles is only going to lead to injury. The mantra "no pain no gain" only partially applies to strength training. Yes, you need to push yourself in order to increase your strength, but there's a fine line between pushing yourself and punishing yourself to the point of injury. When in doubt, stick with a lighter set of dumbbells until you're 100% confident moving up to the next weight level.
Overall, strength training (and more specifically, dumbbell training) can be an excellent way to tone your muscles, get into better shape, and improve your health in the process. For more resources related to achieving your health and fitness goals or to shop for quality dumbbells and other equipment, be sure to check out Gtech Fitness today.