The beauty of simple dumbbell exercises is that it only requires a pair of dumbbells and chair, ball and floor. This 8-move routine can be done easily at home. Remember to exhale when exerting yourself and insure there is no back pain during any stage of the exercise.

You can find pictures of how to do each one of these exercises on the web but it is often quite confusing and overwhelming. The American Council of Exercise website has excellent pictures of how to do each one of these exercises. Below are some important tips to remember to ensure that you are doing the exercises correctly.

1. Front Squat

  1. Stand feet hip distance apart, dumbbell in each hand and place chair behind you.
  2. Start the downward phase by first shifting your hips backwards then downwards.
  3. Slowly lower your body, as if you are sitting in a chair. You may sit down.
  4. Slowly push your body back to starting position.
  5. At the top of the movement, do not lock your knees. Keep a slight bend in them.

See http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness_programs_exercise_library_details.aspx?exerciseid=22

2. Forward Lunge

  1. Stand with feet hip distance apart, dumbbell in each hand. Hang arms at your sides and palms should face the thighs (hammer grip).
  2. Step forward with the right leg, placing your foot on the ground.
  3. Bend your back left knee as you lower yourself downward, more than forward.
  4. Continue downward until your front right thigh is parallel with the floor.
  5. Push up with your right (front) leg and return to starting position. Repeat with the left leg.

See http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/exercise-library-details/0/94/. Just hold dumbbells.

3. Chest Press

  1. Lie on floor with a dumbbell in each hand up over the chest, palms facing out and your feet flat on the surface floor.
  2. Bend elbows and lower arms down until the elbows are just below the chest.
  3. Push weights up without locking elbows and bring them close together.

See http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/exercise-library-details/5/19/. This can be done on the floor.

4. Single-arm Row

  1. Hold dumbbell in right hand, place left hand on a chair for support.
  2. Extend your right arm, holding the dumbbell, towards floor.
  3. Slowly pull dumbbell upwards, bending elbow and pulling your upper arm backwards.
  4. Keep arm close to side of body while pulling dumbbell upwards until you can’t anymore.
  5. Lower dumbbell to starting position while maintaining a flat back then switch sides.

See http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness_programs_exercise_library_details.aspx?exerciseid=126

5. Seated Overhead Press

  1. Sit with your back against a chair with your head, shoulders and butt against chair.
  2. Place your feet on floor. Slowly lift dumbbells to your shoulder level.
  3. Push both dumbbells overhead.
  4. Continue until elbows are fully extended without any arching in your low back.
  5. Slowly lower dumbbells in a controlled manner by bending your elbows.

See http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness_programs_exercise_library_details.aspx?exerciseid=45

6. Triceps Extension

  1. Sit on a chair and hold a dumbbell in right hand and push it overhead with the arm next to right ear.
  2. Slowly lower it behind your head until elbow is at about 90-degree angle behind your head.
  3. Straighten arm overhead without locking the joints.

See http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/exercise-library-details/2/57/

Seated Biceps Curl

  1. Stand with feet hip distance apart as you hold dumbbells in front of your thighs, holding dumbbells in hammer position.
  2. Bend arms, curling the weights up towards the shoulders.
  3. Keep elbows stationary, against side of body, and bring dumbbell as high as you can without moving elbows.
  4. Slowly lower weights without locking elbows at the bottom.

See http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness_programs_exercise_library_details.aspx?exerciseid=44

7. Sit-ups / Crunches

  1. Lie on ball, positioning it under the lower back with feet placed firmly on the floor.
  2. Cross your arms over your chest or place behind your head.
  3. Contract your abs to lift your torso off the ball, pulling the bottom of your ribcage down toward your hips – no more than 45 degrees.
  4. As you curl up, keep the ball stable so that it doesn’t roll.

See http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/exercise-library-details/1/68/

8. Push-up

  1. Kneel on mat/floor and bring your feet together. Place your palms flat on floor, positioning your hands shoulder-width apart.
  2. Slowly lower your body towards the mat/floor. Do not allow your low back to sag during downward phase.
  3. Continue to lower yourself until your chest or chin touches the mat/floor. Allow your elbows to flare outwards during the lowering phase.
  4. Push upwards with your arms. Do not allow your low back to sag. Continue pressing up until arms are fully extended at the elbows.

See http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness_programs_exercise_library_details.aspx?exerciseid=41


Exercise Sequence:

Start from the larger muscle groups so that you perform the most demanding exercises when you are the least fatigued. Another option is to group exercises into upper and lower body movements as this provides recovery between exercises and decrease duration of the workout.

Exercise Movement:

Training recommendation is 1 – 2 seconds each lifting movement and 3 – 4 seconds for each lowering movement.

Exercise sets:

Rest 1 – 3 minutes between sets.

Exercise Resistance and Repetitions:

70 – 80 % of maximum resistance is a sound training recommendation for safe and productive strength development (usually about 8 – 12 repetitions)

Exercise Range:

Important to perform each exercise through a full range of joint movement

Exercise Progression:

One should begin with a resistance that can be performed at least 8 times. When 12 repetitions can be completed, the resistance is increased by 5% or less. It is not advisable to increase the resistance by more than 10% between successive training sessions.

Exercise Frequency:

The muscle building process requires about 48 hours, so workout should be scheduled on an every other day basis. If you prefer to train more frequently, avoid working the same muscle group on consecutive days.

You could do push-ups, squats and sit-ups on the in between days when you are not lifting weights. You can do these before you shower in the morning or at night. Eventually this can become part of your shower routine. These simple and quick strengthening exercises are important for muscle endurance and will eventually lead to a ‘ripped’ look. Since you are not lifting weights, you don’t need a day of rest between these exercises. Remember, doing 100 pushups does not achieve gains in strength. If increased muscular strength is a goal, your time can be used more effectively by progressively overloading the body’s musculature in 8 – 20 repetitions.