Never underestimate the usefulness of a pair of 5-pound weights or dumbbells. Light weight can help with stretching, add a kick to your cardio routine and help warm up muscles before an intense weightlifting session. The American Council on Exercise's Personal Trainers Manual recommends light weights to warm up injury-prone muscles such as the rotator cuff.
Warming up before any workout is an important safety component when it comes to fitness. According to the American College of Sports Medicine's Resources for the Personal Trainer, warming up prepares the body physiologically and psychologically for higher levels of effort and energy utilization. Before an intense weight-training session, you can use a pair of 5-pound weights or dumbbells to warm up your shoulders and arms. Shoulder circles while holding 5-pound weights are a great way to get the blood flowing through the front, lateral and rear deltoids. Hold the weights in each hand and raise your arms in front, then down, then laterally—or out to the side—then down. Mimicking a “swimmer’s stroke” while holding 5-pound weights is another great shoulder warm-up. You can also use 5-pound dumbbells or weight plates to prepare your arms for an intense arm routine. Use them for warm-up curls and warm-up triceps extensions to get the blood flowing and the arms ready for much heavier weight.
Using 5-pound weights during any light to intense cardiovascular routine is a great way to add extra calorie-burning fire power. If you go walking, try taking a pair of 5-pound weights with you. You can either hold them normally and simply walk as you normally would, keeping your usual arm movements, or you can add curls, power punches or shoulder raises every 100 to 200 feet—or any distance that is appropriate for your goals. Aerobic routines can benefit from using 5-pound weights as well. For step aerobics try holding a pair of 5-pound dumbbells or plates. Typically, aerobics will involve rhythmic thrusting movement of the arms during the entire length of the session. This will increase blood flow to the arms and produce more caloric burn. Boxing and kickboxing require a tremendous amount of shoulder strength and endurance. Holding a pair of 5-pound dumbbells can increase both strength and endurance in the shoulders, and help you last longer during intense cardio kickboxing sessions.
Stretching with 5-pound weights can double for a light to moderate cardio workout. This works well for those who want to give their routine a change or for those who have injuries that prevent them from walking, running or lifting. Basic stretches such as the seated toe touch or those found in yoga can be made more intense by holding a pair of 5-pound weights. In T'ai chi, many poses require holding the body in static or slow-moving positions, which greatly add to the intensity of the overall workout. Adding a pair of 5-pound weights or dumbbells to a T'ai chi session can greatly increase calorie burning; leg, shoulder and arm strength and cardiovascular function.