Often when we think of using dumbbells, it conjures up pictures of either setting up a gym at home and getting a trainer, or going to a gym. Bravo. Dumbbells are great for strength training, which we all need.
But there can be another use for dumbbells that can help you in ways that perhaps you hadn’t thought about. It involves the possibility of purchasing a few light weights that you can use at home. A few exercises using a little bit of weight can be great for relief when you are feeling creaky, or just need a mental break from what you are doing.
Here are just a few of the benefits that you can get by adding light weight to an exercise or movement. To be clear, I mean 2-5 pounds, depending on your capabilities, man or woman.
- Lighter weights can help to reinforce good posture. It is amazing how adding a bit of weight to a movement can force your body to move in more purposeful ways.
- You can use movements with light weights to warm up and mobilize your joints without fear of overtaxing them. Again, your body will be forced to move more purposefully (less random, if you want to think of it that way). In addition, your muscles will be participating with the motion, which will help to warm them up as well.
- You can add a light weight to some exercises in such a way as to get your core fired up to help with the movement. Forcing your core to kick in will give you a bigger bang for your buck with the exercise.
The following exercises are designed to give you examples of what I am talking about. You can do these at home to help you with posture, tight shoulders and chest, breathing, warming up, and firing up your core. These exercises will get you feeling better and more energized in a hurry! They can also help you prepare for heavier strength training, or just moving better throughout your day.
If you want to, do them each with and without the weight to feel the difference.
1. Chest Expansion. Great for posture, learning to keep the shoulders down and back, opening your chest, and giving your lungs a chance to fill!
*Stand tall, heels together and toes out somewhat. With a light weight in each hand, extend your arms in front of you to shoulder height. Inhale and bring them to the back, lifting them as high as possible without straining. Expand the chest, and gently squeeze the shoulder blades down and towards each other. Exhale as you bring the arms back to the original position in front of you. Repeat 10 times, slowly.
2. Hugs. Once you have established good posture and shoulder position with the previous exercise, you can do the hug.
*Stand tall with feet in the same position as above, weights in each hand. Bring your arms up to the sides of your body with elbows lifted. Imagine you are hugging a large beach ball. Inhale and squeeze the arms together so that your hands nearly touch. Exhale and open the arms, keeping the shoulder blades down and pressing gently towards each other as in the previous exercise. Exhaling as you open out will help to bring your shoulders down. Repeat 10 times, slowly.
3. Bridge with One Arm Crossover. This exercise will fire up your core to help stabilize you (so you don’t fall to one side), and work your butt and hips at the same time.
*Lay in your back on a mat or towel. Knees are bent with feet on the floor. Take a light weight in your right hand. Lift your hips up into a bridge, and at the same time push the weight across your body to the left. You will feel your core and hips working hard to keep you from tipping over to the left. Come back down from the bridge while bringing your arm back to the starting position. Do this 10 times, switch arms and do 10 more.
Notice that just adding a bit of weight makes these exercises that much more beneficial, and gives you more awareness of what muscles you are working. This can help you get the most out of any exercise you do with slightly heavier weights, or even the heavy ones.
Please leave a comment below and tell us how you have “added a little bit of weight” to your exercise routine.
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