Dumbbell Exercises for Weight Lifting Beginners
Bodybuilding Knowledge Weightlifting Tips

9 Dumbbell Exercises for Weight Lifting Beginners

It can often be intimidating to start up a workout routine. How much weight should I be using?
How long should I be working out for? How many sets should I do? These questions plague
everyone and for some, it can be overwhelming to the point where they won’t even begin.

Take the questions out of your workout and grab a pair of dumbbells. These 9 dumbbell exercises for
weight lifting beginners are a perfect place to start your routine to build muscle and become

female runningPre-Workout Cardio

The role of cardio in any workout routine can not be overstated. It’s essential to start your workout
routine with cardio. This doesn’t mean hopping on a treadmill and blasting it at full incline and
speed. It simply means that the body needs to warm up– get the blood flowing and pumping
through your muscles. To accomplish this you can walk, ride, or run for 5 to 10 minutes before
your workout. This is a light cardio session as the real work will be put in during the dumbbell

Seated Shoulder Press

The Seated Shoulder Press completed with dumbbells is a great exercise for the arms. Using a
dumbbell instead of a barbell allows you to focus and train each arm individually. Primarily focused
on strengthening the front and side deltoids, the trapezius muscle and triceps also get worked out

  • Sets: 2
  • Reps: 10 per set
  • Rest: 40 seconds between sets

6.   From a seated position, place your feet firmly on the floor and keep them planted. Grasp a
dumbbell in each hand.
7.   Keeping your head up and your back straight, lift and curl the dumbbell towards the shoulder.
Hold them at this level.
8.   Rotate the palms to face forward.
9.   Again, remembering to keep your back straight, press the dumbbells up towards sky while slightly touching each other at top position.
10.   Lower the dumbbells slowly and repeat for the desired number of reps.

Arm Extensions

Extensions are great at targeting the triceps– muscles located at the back of your upper arm area.
It also assists in the flexibility and stability of your elbows and shoulders. A major benefit of
extensions is that it works the full arm, sculpting them for the look you desire.

  • Sets: 2
  • Reps: 10 per set
  • Rest: 40 seconds between sets

11.   Lying on a bench, hold the two dumbbells with your arms fully extended. Your hands should
face in and the elbows neatly tucked.
12.   Slowly lower the dumbbells until they are near the ears.
13.   Keeping elbows tight to the body and your upper arms still, use your triceps to bring the
dumbbells back to the starting position.
14.   Remembering to breathe in when lowering the weight and breathing out when pushing the
weight back up, repeat for the desired amount of reps.

man doing squatsStanding Calf Raise

One of the most popular training exercises is Standing Calf Raises. The addition of dumbbells gives
this workout a new life as it can aid in providing resistance boosting muscle strength. Providing
definition to the leg muscles, standing calf raises work the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles.

  • Sets: 2
  • Reps: 15 to 20 per set
  • Rest: 40 seconds between sets

15.   With your body standing upright, hold the two dumbbells to your sides.
16.   The ball of your foot should be on a strong and stable surface, pointing straight.
17.   Raise your heels off of the floor while exhaling and contracting the calf muscles.
18.   Hold the contraction at the top of the extension for a second or two.
19.   Inhale and slowly lower the heels back towards the starting position.
20.   Repeat the exercise for the desired number of reps.

Seated Curls

Head to a gym and chances are you’ll see someone with a barbell doing Seated Curls. Using a
dumbbell is an excellent way to target these same muscles individually. The technique is important
here as you’ll want to make sure you’re using your targeted muscles to lift and not other parts of
your body like your back or other muscles on your arms. The muscles being targeted during a
seated curl are the elbow flexors and the entire range of the biceps.

  • Sets: 2
  • Reps: 10 per set
  • Rest: 40 seconds between sets

21.   Take a seat with your feet placed firmly on the ground and your back fully straight.
22.   With an underhand grip, grasp the dumbbells in each hand and hold in the down position.
23.   Using one dumbbell at a time, curl the weight slowly towards your shoulder. Hold it for a
second or two.
24.   Slowly lower the raised dumbbell back to starting position while raising the other dumbbell
upwards. Be careful not to swing and use the targeted muscles– you’ll feel it.
25.   Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Stiff Leg Dead Lifts

Stiff Leg Dead Lifts are considered one of the best exercises for your hamstrings. The added
benefits of the dead lifts are that they target many other areas of the lower body at the same time.
Your glutes, arms, calves, and lower back all participate in the effective completion of the reps. It’s
all about technique with these in order to do them accurately. It should feel more like a
comfortable stretch than a wrenching workout.

  • Sets: 2
  • Reps: 10 per set
  • Rest: 40 seconds between sets

26.   Stand nice and tall, keeping your back straight. Use a reasonable weight for this exercise– it’s
a stretch rather than a definition builder.
27.   Grab a dumbbell in each hand and hold in the down position. Keep your knees bent, slightly.
Pop your buttocks outward. Bend, slowly, at the waist while lowering the dumbbells past your
knees. Feel the stretch in the glutes and hamstring.
28.   Raise the dumbbells back up, slowly, to the starting position. Squeeze your glutes and
hamstrings as you come up.
29.   Keeping the back straight and head level, repeat for the desired amount of reps.

female doing incline pressIncline Press

The traditional Incline Press targets the upper chest while also hitting the front shoulder muscles
and triceps. Using a dumbbell instead of a barbell allows you to target each arm individually. You’ll
want to maintain a 30 to 45-degree angle in order to keep the focus on the chest instead of the

  • Sets: 2
  • Reps: 10 per set
  • Rest: 40 seconds between sets

30.   Grab the two dumbbells with an overhand grip while seated on an incline bench of 30 to 45
31.   Bring the dumbbells to the sides of your chest with your feet placed firmly on the floor.
32.   Extend the dumbbells so that they’re directly over the chest area and slightly touch at full
extension of the arms in front of the body while keeping palms facing forward.
33.   Bend the arms slowly and lower both of the dumbbells slowly and in control back down to the
chest. You should feel a stretch but no pain.
34.   Press the dumbbells back up from the sides of the chest to the starting position. Remember
not to bounce the weight off of the chest. Keep the elbows tucked and feel the burn in the

One Arm Rows

It’s important, in a full body workout, to not forget the back muscles. Specifically targeting the
mid-back, One Arm Rows also hit the biceps and shoulders. This is a great way to stretch out the
lat muscles as well. Keep the knees slightly bent, back straight, and don’t hunch to avoid injury.

  • Sets: 2
  • Reps: 10 per set
  • Rest: 40 seconds between sets

35.   Place a knee on a bench or raised platform. Grab a dumbbell with one hand.
36.   With the body balanced, bend the body forward at the hips.
37.   The upper body should be parallel to the floor while keeping back flat.
38.   Lift the dumbbell towards your midsection being sure to keep the elbows close to the body.
39.   Lower the dumbbell, slowly, until the arm is fully extended and you can feel the stretch in the
40.   Repeat for the desired number of reps.


No workout is complete without Squats. Targeting the lower back, thighs, glutes, hamstrings, and
calves– squats do it all for the lower body. Using dumbbells is better for the back in the case of
squats because the traditional barbell squat puts pressure on the upper back. Do not lock out the
top movement of this exercise to avoid injury.

  • Sets: 2
  • Reps: 10 per set
  • Rest: 40 seconds between sets

41.   Keeping your legs shoulder width apart, pick up a pair of dumbbells while bending your knees.
The dumbbells will be at the sides and fully extended down.
42.   Slowly perform a squat until the knees are parallel to the floor. Don’t bounce, the movement
should be controlled.
43.   Straighten your legs, slowly, back to the starting position.
44.   Repeat for the desired number of reps.


Sometimes sit-ups just aren’t our thing. It strains the back and neck, leading to potential injury
during a workout. Crunches are a great way to target the frontal abdominal muscles in an efficient

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 20 to 30 per set
  • Rest: 40 seconds between sets

45.   While lying on the floor, place your arms across your chest or interlace your hands behind the
head. You may keep your feet on the floor or raise them for this exercise.
46.   Squeeze the abs as you slowly curl the shoulders off of the floor towards your knees. Your
shoulder blades should come up off the floor one to two inches.
47.   Hold your position and squeeze for a second before slowly dropping back down to the starting
position. Continue for the desired number of reps, remembering to breathe.

Post-Workout Cardio

Just as you warmed your body up before the workout with the pre-workout cardio, you need to
cool your body down with post-workout cardio. While your muscles were working, your heart was
pumping and circulating blood throughout the body. The dumbbells help with strengthening your
arms and legs but the core needs to be built through good old fashioned cardio. A light 10 to 15-
minute cardio routine to finish your set will allow the rest of your body the chance to take
advantage of the work you put in during the workout. This is imperative to an overall healthy body.

Only you can decide when to take your health into your own hands. The best part of the workout
routine above is that you only have to do it three days a week (we recommend Monday,
Wednesday, and Fridays) to receive optimal benefits. Using these simple dumbbell exercises will
have you attaining your goals in no time.