There are dumbbell exercises that focus on every muscle group. They make for a great full body workout, and you can also do them as isolation or compound movements during your workout split.
Ideally, all dumbbell exercises can be done unilaterally, i.e., you can do one side at a time. That enables you to fix any strength or muscle imbalance between the two sides of a muscle group.
Best Dumbbell Exercises for Each Muscle Group
The following are six of the best dumbbell exercises that can enable men to work on each muscle group and help activate the smaller muscles in each group.
1) Dumbbell Flat (Bench Press)
One of the best dumbbell exercises for the pectoral muscles is the bench press. This dumbbell variation is excellent for activating the muscles and forcing the fibers to grow thicker and stronger.
You should begin with a lighter weight to understand how to engage the muscles and what the correct form should be. As you move to heavier weights, your back will become more arched, so you will need to support the upper body on your shoulder blades and lower back.
You can find a guide to dumbbell flat press here.
2) Dumbbell Row
Another big muscle group in the upper body are the lat muscles. You can choose dumbbell rows for the lats, and either go for double arm or single arm rows.
One of the benefits of single arm rows is that they allow you to work on each side at a time. However, double arm rows are efficient in focusing on both intensity and volume. Rows engage most muscles in the group, allowing them to grow back bigger.
You can find a guide for dumbbell rows here.
3) Dumbbell Bicep Curl
Once you’re done with your torso, you should shift your focus to your arms. The arms have three muscle groups – biceps, triceps, and shoulders.
Coming to your biceps, you need to focus on the simplest exercises that work the short and long bicep heads. One such exercise is the curls.
Conventional bicep curls focus on the overall development of the muscle group but can be more impactful for the short head. You can shift to hammer curls if you want the impact to shift to your long heads more.
4) Dumbbell Arm Extension
The next muscle group to focus on in your arms is the triceps. You can use single arm or double arm extensions. Of course, you will be able to lift a heavier dumbbell if you use a double arm-extension.
It’s better to focus on intensity over volume when you’re trying to force the triceps to grow, at least at the start. You must ensure that your form is correct and the triceps are engaged. It’s easy for the forearms and biceps to take over during this exercise, so a strong muscle-‘mind connection is recommended.
Here is a guide to doing arm extensions.
5) Dumbbell Overhead Press
The final muscle group to focus on in your arms are the shoulders. The overhead press is one of the most popular picks from dumbbell exercises for shoulders.
As the overhead press is a compound movement, the triceps engage during the exercise. It’s important to maintain a strong muscle-mind connection during the workout, though.
To do so, start by using lower weights. Lighter weights enable you to build a muscle-mind connection much better than heavy weights. Once you’ve built that connection, it will be easier to maintain it as you increase the weight.
You can find a guide for overhead press here.
6) Dumbbell Squat
Once you’re done with your upper body, the focus should shift to your lower body. The primary body part in the lower body are the legs.
It goes without saying that squats are the most effective exercise for legs. They work on the quads (primarily), but the hamstrings and calves get worked on as well.
If you want to shift focus to your hamstrings, you should try a wide-stance or sumo squat. Alternatively, you can do toe squats if you want the focus to shift to your calves.
Here is a guide for squats.
The best dumbbell exercises are the ones that allow you to engage the proper muscles during each exercise. You may not be able to master the exercises the first time you give them a try, but over time, things will become easier.
You must begin with lower weights in dumbbell exercises, and practice progressive overload to move to heavier weights.
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