How much workout can you do with just dumbbells?

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by Baptismbyfire, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. Baptismbyfire

    Baptismbyfire Senior member

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    Can you work out most/all of your major muscle groups with just dumbbells (except legs)? I was thinking of working out, but was wondering whether I should pay for gym membership and drive out there three times a week or just workout at home. I am not training to be a heavyweight champion, and just want a good workout.


    Thanks.
     
  2. Pia

    Pia Golden Member

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    I find kettlebells much more useful than dumbbells. They are typically used for full-body explosive movements like swing, clean, jerk and snatch, but you can press them and do lots of other stuff. They will train all of the body, including the legs.

    Some basics here.
    http://youtu.be/TAYZ9gKZaI0
     
  3. Baptismbyfire

    Baptismbyfire Senior member

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    Wow, that looks like quite a workout, but I have a feeling I will bash my head in if I try that right now :awe:
     
  4. blackdogdeek

    blackdogdeek Lifer

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    Do you already own dumbbells and are looking for exercise recommendations? Or are you looking for input on how to workout at home inexpensively?

    You can still do the main basic movements with just a set of dumbbells:

    1. squat with dumbbells held on shoulders
    2. press
    3. bench press
    4. deadlift
    5. row

    Personally, I would go for an olympic bar + weights if at all possible instead of dumbbells but dumbbells vs nothing I'd go with dumbbells.
     
  5. Pia

    Pia Golden Member

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    Nah, all the basic movements are very simple and safe, and they are all you need to get extremely fit. Kettlebells are far easier to learn on your own than barbell lifting.

    The two-handed swing is the basis for most other things. The one-handed swing is just the same thing minus one hand. Pulling in the one-handed swing so that the weight ends in the rack position on your chest is the clean. Once you can hold the weight in proper rack position, you can do jerks, presses, or front squats.

    A good initial kettlebell weight is 12kg (26lbs) or 16kg (35lbs) depending on initial strength. The weight probably sounds small, but the offset of the handle and the swinging trajectories of basic movements multiply the work. Lighter bells are not wasted if you buy a heavier one. It's good to learn all new exercises with light bells first, and some exercises are much, much harder than others.

    I got started with kettlebells doing this program. In hindsight, I would recommend modifying it a bit - especially for a man - but it got me tons of fitness very fast.
    http://www.stumptuous.com/kettlebell-training-an-introduction
     
  6. Deeko

    Deeko Lifer

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    You can do mostly everything with dumbbells - and in many cases, they are superior to their barbell equivalent, because it requires more stabilization.
     
  7. vi edit

    vi edit Elite Member <br> Super Moderator
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    If you just want a good workout then you hardly need dumbells. There's dozens of full body exercises you can do with just your body weight that will get you into excellent shape.

    But to answer the question directly, yes there are a lot of exercises you can do with just dumbells. The only real drawback is that eventually on some exercises you will outgrow the weights you have and they get *REALLY* expensive once you get past the basic 5-45 pound sets. Plates are much more affordable and easier to add up for desired weights.
     
  8. Baptismbyfire

    Baptismbyfire Senior member

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    Yeah, I am going to get my hands on some dumbbells this week. Is there any site you could recommend for dumbbell exercises?
     
  9. blackdogdeek

    blackdogdeek Lifer

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    Starting Strength and Strong Lifts 5x5 are common starting programs. I think they both basically have you perform 2 workouts, splitting up the 5 basic movements I listed above over 2 days and the idea is to try to increase the weight you lift over each workout and you only perform 1 set of 5 reps per exercise.

    This is obviously an over-simplification but it's the basic idea.

    EDIT: Oops, I meant 5 sets of 5 reps per exercise.
     
    #9 blackdogdeek, Jan 29, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
  10. pauldun170

    pauldun170 Diamond Member

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    If I had a full set of dumbbells going from 20lb to 150lb I probably could drop gym membership and still do a full body workout.

    I would prefer to have a barbell and dumbell setup.
    See no reason to limit myself to just dumbells.
     
  11. gar655

    gar655 Senior member

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    A set of powerblocks is MUCH less expensive and FAR easier to store than a whole set of dumbells and rack.

    Plus the powerblocks go up to 175lbs per side. I don't know too many people that can handle 175lb dumbells.
     
  12. Jeeebus

    Jeeebus Diamond Member

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    I've got a set of Bowflex SelectTech 1090s, which go up to 90lbs per side. That + a bench is what I use. Granted, I'm not some workout beast or in the best shape of my life.

    In fact, I'm probably at my fattest right now after 6 months of not working out for various reasons.

    That said, I got back into it this week and there is no shortage of exercises to do with dumbbells. Could I get a "better" workout at the gym? I guess. But this is already enough to kill me/make me want to puke.
     
  13. vi edit

    vi edit Elite Member <br> Super Moderator
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    I see $650 for the 90 pound(each) set.
    http://www.amazon.com/PowerBlock-Eli...rds=powerblock

    I don't even want to know what the 175lb ones cost. And those things look awkward as hell with the way you have to stick your wrist in there.

    You can probably garage sale a dumbell set for pennies on the dollar if you do a little shopping around.
     
  14. blackdogdeek

    blackdogdeek Lifer

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  15. Saint Nick

    Saint Nick Lifer

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    Lol...what a ridiculous contraption for $650.
     
  16. AznAnarchy99

    AznAnarchy99 Lifer

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    Definitely look on craigslist for used dumbells bar bells. Ive gotten thousands of dollars worth of stuff for a mere hundred or two including dumbell sets up to 90s, benches, bars, assortment of plates etc etc.
     
  17. TheSiege

    TheSiege Diamond Member

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  18. kalrith

    kalrith Diamond Member

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    I have a set of 5, 10, 20, 35, and 50 lb. dumbbells. I can do all the basic exercises with them with squats probably being the most difficult to do compared to using a barbell. My biggest obstacles are having such a big jump in weight and having a max weight of 100 lbs. (for 2 50-pounders).

    I thought about adding to the set, but I'm just going to go with a power rack and barbell setup instead. However, if you don't have room for that, then there's not much that you can't do with dumbbells.

    I usually do a basic routine with bench press, bent-over rows, squats, deadlifts, and OH press split across two work-out days. I moved last September and haven't had a workout room since then, because it's currently the storage room until I build a shed :(
     
  19. BAMAVOO

    BAMAVOO Diamond Member

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    I am doing the stronglift 5x5 with dumbells. I have access to DB's from 1lb all the way to 110lbs, 2 of each weight, so 220lbs total. I am just starting out, but it definitely seems like I can go quite a while and even then you can add more reps. We have other machines, but the DB's just feel better.
     
  20. Sid59

    Sid59 Lifer

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    my faves are:
    Squats - when one end of the DB resting on your shoulder
    Thrusters
    Goblet Squats
    Presses
    1 Arm Snatches
    Rows in the pushup position
    farmer walks
    the above doesn't require a bench.
     
  21. KDOG

    KDOG Diamond Member

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  22. jrob6519

    jrob6519 Member

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    love ketterbells for many more complex movements and targeted muscles
     
  23. Sixguns

    Sixguns Platinum Member

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    I prefer dumbells to anything else if they can be used. I feel that each side gets an equal workout where if you use a bar sometimes one side can overpower it seems.
     
  24. parker123

    parker123 Junior Member

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    "The mechanic should sit down among levers, screws, wedges, wheels, etc., like a poet among letters of the alphabet, considering them as the exhibition of his thought, in which a new arrangment transmits a new idea to the world." Robert Fulton.
     
  25. Java Cafe

    Java Cafe Senior member

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    If working *at home* is objective, as it was for me, there is equipment that can be bought to do the major/popular barbell strength traing programs, such as, Strong Lifts and Starting Strength. I use a 7-ft standard bar, one-inch plates, a pair of safety stands, a simple bench, and 1-in thick floor mats. I also have a "Door Gym," which adds to my arsenal.

    I had considered doing dumbbell-only exercises because going to the gym doesn't agree with me at all. But, it seemed to me that there had to be a good reason why barbell-based workouts are considered the gold standard. It's not as if other methods are not viable; it's a matter of which is more efficacious/efficient.

    These are only my thoughts/opinions. I mean no disrespect for other viewpoints. And, I continue to learn . . .

    Whatever you choose, I wish you good luck.