Exercises With 5 lb. Dumbbells

Young woman exercising with weights
A woman holding pink dumbbells. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Exercising with 5-lb. dumbbells for 20 minutes at least twice a week will help tone the muscles in your arms, back and chest. Strength training is one of the components of a well-rounded fitness routine that also includes 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderately intense aerobic exercise. Also, the sheer variety of exercises that use dumbbells ensures that you’ll stay engaged and motivated. You won’t get bulky lifting 5-lb. dumbbells, but you will be boosting your fitness level.

Effective Training With Good Form

Resistance training means lifting weights against gravity to build muscular strength, size and definition. Doing resistance training with free weights or with exercise machines can improve fitness, and it is a matter of what is appropriate for you. In a study published by the National Institutes of Health, 11 slightly overweight women were placed on a diet and also instructed to do exercises using 5 lb. dumbbells and resistance bands. In 12 weeks, they increased hand and grip strength and lost weight. Using 5 lb. dumbbells in each hand, you can do many types of exercises. Using light weights is especially good if you are a beginner to learn correct ergonomic form.

Standing Alternate Dumbbell Lunges

Start with standing lunges to work the quadriceps of the thighs and gluteus maximus of the hips. Stand with feet apart, hip width distance, with lower abs drawn in toward the spine to protect the lower back. Hold each dumbbell so that your arms and hands are down by your sides. Keeping your head and chest tall, step your right foot forward, bending the knee to about 90 degrees so it is stacked above its ankle. Step back and repeat to the left side. Do 15 to 20 reps. Work up to three sets.

Standing Alternate Bicep Curls

Proceed with standing alternate dumbbell bicep curls. Remain standing and begin with hands and arms down by your sides. Lift your right hand, bending the elbow and draw the dumbbell toward your right shoulder, so your palm faces your chest. Pause before lowering the weight. Repeat on the left side. Do 8 to 12 reps for one set. Build up to three sets. This works the bicep muscles of the inner arm above the inner elbow crease.

Single Tricep Kickbacks on Flat Bench

Work opposing muscle groups -- the triceps of the upper arm -- with single tricep kickbacks. Set your left hand on the bench in front of you as you balance your bent left knee on the bench. Holding a 5 lb. dumbbell in your right hand so it is down by your right thigh. Pin your right inner elbow to your side as you bend the elbow and bring the dumbbell up toward your right shoulder. Pause before lowering it straight back without locking the elbow joint. Do 8 to 12 reps on each side. Gradually work up to three sets.

Seated Rotator Cuff Exercise

Sit on the bench sideways, so your feet are flat and knees are bent to about 90 degrees for a rotator cuff exercise. Place your left palm flat on your left thigh. Hold a 5 lb. dumbbell in your right hand, bending your right elbow to a 90-degree angle. Start with the dumbbell near your left bicep and draw it across your chest until it is about 65 degrees away from your right thigh. Pause and return to the starting point. Do 8 reps. Repeat on the left side. Keep your head and chest tall and lower abs engaged.

Tips and Warnings

Many more resistance training exercises can be done with 5 lb. dumbbells. If you are new, learn them from a very experienced friend or a certified personal trainer to prevent injuries.

Weights are best used for resistance training in exercises in which your body is not vulnerable to injury. This means doing exercises in which you can sustain proper form to protect your neck, lower back and all the joints of your body, including ankles, knees, hips and shoulders.

Check with your health-care provider before beginning an exercise program for the first time or if you have been away from fitness programs for a while, or if you have any chronic health issues that would prevent you from lifting weight.

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