You don’t have to want the look of a professional bodybuilder to benefit from using weights to improve both your appearance and strength. Dumbbells are an incredibly accessible, affordable and effective piece of exercise equipment that you should have in your home. Lifting weights not only builds muscle, but it can help you slim down, stick to a healthy eating plan and reduce stress. If you still need convincing, keep reading to learn why you should be grabbing some hand weights pronto.
Increased Weight Loss
Cardio exercise is important for your health and your weight, but cardio is not the king of weight loss. Studies have shown that, on average, 75 percent of weight loss is fat and 25 percent is muscle loss in groups of individuals who do not lift weights. While dropping muscle mass will reduce the number you see on the scale, it doesn’t necessarily enhance your appearance and it makes the weight way easier to gain back.
One of the absolute greatest benefits to using hand weights is that your body continues to burn calories after lifting. A study from Arizona State University found that exercisers who completed strength-training reps burned 79 percent more calories than those who didn’t use weights at all. “Think of that afterburn as your metabolism working overtime while you lounge,” says celebrity trainer Brian Nguyen. What all of this means is that when you’re done with your hand weights, your body continues to burn calories without you having to do any additional work.
It isn’t just your waistline and your muscles that reap the rewards of using dumbbells; your bones also see benefits from strength training. As you age, your bone mass decreases which increases your risk of serious bone fractures. Research has shown that four months (16 weeks) of strength-training increased bone density and raised blood levels of osteocalcin (a bone growth marker) by almost 20 percent.
Exercise Ideas with Hand Weights
If you aren’t quite sure where to start, use these two moves that will help you increase your strength and improve your appearance:
- Squat and Swing – Begin by standing with feet hip-width apart and holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bend forward slightly from the hips and bend knees into a half-squat. Keep your back flat, and your arms by your sides. Push through your heels forcefully to stand up and as you do this, use the momentum to swing arms to chest level, then return to half-squat position. Do three reps of 15-10 swings. This exercise targets your shoulders, biceps, core, hamstrings and butt.
- The Windmill – Begin with a dumbbell in your right hand, standing with your feet wide. Point your right foot forward and your left foot to the side. Extend your right arm overhead with your palm facing forward and side bend to the left at the waist reaching fingertips of your left hand to your foot. As you do this keep your right arm pointed upwards and your right leg straight. Reverse the motion to your starting position. Do eight reps, then switch and do the exercise using your left arm. Repeat for three sets.
You don’t have to lift for hours a day every single day of the week, a few simple exercises using hand weights can have a huge impact on your appearance and your strength. If you’ve never lifted before, begin with five-pound weight and gradually work up to 10 or 15 pound dumbbells. Watch your body transform and your strength improve as you continue to workout using hand weights.