Home Workout: Small Dumbbells Countdown Circuit

Sometimes, more weight isn’t the answer. With certain moves, graduating to the big-boy dumbbells translates to worse form and undermines your results while increasing your risk of injury. The flipside: by learning to use smaller weights more effectively, you’ll be able to push your muscles to their limit with the flimsiest set of Argos weights available. This workout keeps you honest with low reps and timed isometric holds – it’ll make your muscles burn, but the results will be worth it. Starting in 3, 2, 1… go.

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How it works

This dumbbell workout gets your muscle fibres firing and then gives them some – mildly unpleasant – time under tension. This combination makes for rapid results, even with light weights.


Do five reps, then stay in the “hold” position for five seconds. Do four more reps, and hold for four seconds. Repeat for three, two and one reps. Rest for 60 seconds, then go on to the next move. Do two sets in total.

1. Renegade row

Start in a press-up position holding your dumbbells. Do a press-up and, at the top of the move, row one dumbbell upwards, pulling it into your armpit. Try to stay parallel to the floor – if your abs are hurting, it’s working.

Hold at the lowest point of the press-up

2. Bent-over row

Lean forward at your hips, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Pull the dumbbells up towards your sternum, and pause at the top, squeezing your shoulder blades together.

Hold at the top of the move

3. Dumbbell upright row

Stand tall with a dumbbell in each hand. Lift them up towards your chin, leading with your elbows and flaring them out to the sides. Keep the movement controlled so you don’t put undue pressure on your rotator cuffs. Lower the dumbbells under control.

Hold at the top of the move

4. Biceps curl

Stand tall with a dumbbell in each hand, shoulders back. Keeping your elbows tucked in to your sides, curl the weights towards your chest, stopping just before your forearms reach the vertical. Lower under control.

Hold at the top, adding a biceps squeeze

5. Dumbbell reverse flye

Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing inwards. Lean forward at your hips and lift the dumbbells outward to chest height, keeping a bend in your arms. Lower them under control.

Hold at the top of the move

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