For long, weights have fascinated the budding bodybuilder. They have always been enamored with the idea of lifting an insane amount of heavy metal to transform their flesh to a perfect rock hard body. The ubiquitous dumbbell has dominated a major part of the weight-training regime.

Introduction to Dumbbells

A short rod with circular or block shaped weights at either end is what constitutes a dumbbell. The history of how it attained the name ‘dumbbell’ is quite confusing. No one knows precisely when and where, it attained the name, but some history suggests that it originated in England, when poet Joseph Addison mentioned it in his work ‘The Spectator’, in the year 1711. However, this page is not about how history was made then but how you can create one now.

The dumbbell is a prolific weight and strength-training device. It is the most visible item in any gym, both public and private. Gym trainers and bodybuilding professionals alike swear by the efficacy of this marvel tool and have, through the ages, perfected the art of its usage. Fitness programs and magazines sing paeans about how dumbbell routines have revolutionized the health and wellness industry and that it is here to stay for a long time.

In this article, we will know how this venerable piece of metal and nowadays tempered rubber, can change your body shape.

How does a dumbbell work?

It works on the principle of gravity. Weight pushes the muscle down and you have to act counter to it. There are numerous muscle areas where a dumbbell can be used to influence growth and strength. One of the most favored of them is the biceps and the triceps. Dumbbells are also used for expanding and strengthening the chest muscles as well as the shoulder and there are quite a few methodologies that can be followed to achieve that build, you so yearn for.

How dumb is the dumbbell?

To begin with, remember that the dumbbell does provide two types of mechanisms:

  • Mechanical
  • Metabolic

The mechanical mechanism entails reparation of damage caused by muscle contractions. This stimulates muscle growth and hence expansion and consequently strengthening. The metabolic overload, on the other hand, pushes the muscle to fatigue. This has a great anatomical benefit. Because of this, the muscle cells begin to store more glycogen, which again leads to an increase in size. A seasoned practitioner will understand how weights work and hence will use the heavier ones for greater mechanical overload, while the moderately heavy ones with greater reps will be used for metabolic overload.

There is a definite increase in the inter-muscular and intramuscular coordination. This leads to more muscle activation. The inter-muscular coordination leads to a greater ability of a group of different muscles to work together, which leads to better stabilization of joint motion. The intramuscular coordination is the activation of a number of muscle motor units along with their attached muscle fiber within a specific muscle. Lighter weights increase the inter-muscular coordination while heavier weights work on the latter.

Working out with a dumbbell ensures that the said muscle region expands and contracts adequately. This has a direct bearing on the elasticity of the tissues. This in turns helps store mechanical energy. This energy is released when the muscle contracts. The entire weight dependent movement leads to greater muscle build and tissue strengthening as well keeps the joints supple and fluid. The traditional workouts involving the dumbbell, increases the force carrying capacity of the muscle while the multi-planar movements with lighter weights, enhance resiliency.

Variety in a workout regime is extremely important. The size and the form factor that the dumbbell comes in, makes it a perfect foil for any exercise. Moreover, with the new age ones, having adjustable weights, does make for a fascinating round of exhilarating, sweat churning, muscle ripping workout. A dumbbell also provides exclusivity, with each hand getting its own weight. What better way to burn and build!

Needless to say, that the dumbbell is not exactly dumb.

Working out with dumbbells


Now for a quick look at what all we can do with this wonder tool for muscle sculpting.

Dumbbell Straight-Arm Pullback

  • Hold the dumbbell in one hand
  • Bend your knees a bit and lunge a bit forward, placing yourself parallel to the ground
  • The hand, which does not hold the dumbbell, needs to be on the respective knee. Therefore, that would mean the free right-hand needs to be on the right knee.
  • Back needs to be firm
  • Straighten the arm carrying the weight
  • Now, slowly raise the arm to a point where it is parallel to the ground
  • Do not move the upper body
  • Do 10 reps a set
  • Switch arms

Close Grip Dumbbell Press

  • Lie perpendicular to the bench
  • Hips need to be below the bench with your feet firmly placed on the ground. The body needs to be stable here.
  • Hold the dumbbell straight above your chest, with both your hands.
  • Now lower the dumbbell towards your chest, slowly, with no sudden movements. The focus area needs to be your triceps. Return to the first position.

Chest Supported Dumbbell Row

  • Lie on an incline bench with the chest on it.
  • Hold the dumbbells on either hand
  • Now start pulling them back till the dumbbells are parallel to your chest
  • Gently push it to the original position.
  • The effect this has on the back is unimaginable. The contraction work wonders.

Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension

  • Lie on a flat bench with feet firmly placed on the ground. Stability of the posture is of prime importance here.
  • Hold the dumbbells in each hand and stretch your hands perpendicular to your chest.
  • Keep your palms faced in and elbows tucked in
  • Now keeping your upper arms stationary bring the weights towards your forehead, bending your elbow.
  • Bring it back to the original position pushing your triceps outwards.

Bent Arm Dumbbell Pullover

  • Lie on a bench perpendicular to it. Your torso will be jutting out while the legs need to be firmly placed on the ground.
  • Hold the dumbbell with both the hands.
  • The dumbbell will need to be facing downwards towards your face. Now, with hands stretched straight outwards, perpendicular to your chest, bring it to the starting position.
  • Slowly bring the weight down behind your head stretching your hands in an arc
  • Bring it back to the starting position.

A dumbbell is a self-contained immensely satisfying workhorse. It provides its users with umpteen variations, each being productive and exciting. Care needs to be taken while performing those exercises. Once, the mind and body adjust to the newfound love, it is well, game on.

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