Lifting weights with just dumbbells

by 35 · February 09, 2014 at 3:54 AM

Not sure if this is anywhere else, but I couldn't find anything so here we go:

I'm new to paleo, I'm actually on day 3, I'm a female and though I know losing weigh isn't the goal I want to lose about 50lbs or more, I do want to lose body fat and gain muscle to get there of course. I'm starting to lift weights, but my gym (at my apartment) doesn't have barbells, there are only dumbbells and some (like 4) machines that are really bad for form. I'm hoping someone can give some suggestions on a training program I can do that only uses dumbbells or body weights. I'll probably be getting a gym membership in a few months but for now all I can use is my apartments gym.

Also any tips of losing body fat would be great, I'm keeping it pretty low carb/fruit. I'm earning more vegetables then meat over all but I do get one or two 'servings' (6-8oz a serving) any suggestions that could help if I stall or just to help improve my overall health, it would be great.


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60 · April 03, 2013 at 6:04 PM

The absolute best thing you can possibly do as an individual trying to get lean is HIIT and sprint exercises. Those two things mixed with a well balanced Paleo-minded diet will put you on the fast track for results.

Some of my favorite dumbbell exercises include: Lateral Raises / Shoulder Press / Incline Bench Press / Flys / Reverse Flys / Lunges / Walking Pushups / Calf raises / Several types of curls and tricep exercises / & Shrugs

On another note, you can do absolutely everything you need to do with dumbbells. I know plenty of people who swear by them.

As for starting out, the marks daily apple site has some wonderful advice. As well as Abel James - Fat burning man show, and Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast. Check those out too for plenty of advice and tips!


32175 · April 03, 2013 at 5:34 PM

For beginners, I like the Primal Blueprint Fitness guide. It's free here:


777 · April 03, 2013 at 7:14 PM

squat/curl/press - i do this about 2-3 times a week with dumbells & i can't see why id do any other weights using machines or benches as that one workout seems to hit my whole body nicely, i also do lots of yoga though which definitely helps

2094 · April 03, 2013 at 9:52 PM

in addition to some compound movements such as the primal fitness one mentioned, this is a short video beginner kettlebell .. fun, easy, and quick. You can use a dumbell instead of a kettlebell too. Rinse and repeat if u so desire :)


Be careful with your carb intake if you find your getting dizzy or feeling weak make sure to Up your carbs (particularly- sweet potatoes/potatoes) accordingly.

26354 · April 03, 2013 at 5:32 PM

It is pretty hard to gain muscle while loosing weight. So focus on loosing weight and progressing on your lifts to maintain lean body mass.

The only barbell exercise that doesn't translate to dumbbells is dead lifts. Everything else is pretty much the same.

If you are new to lifting, I'd recommend getting 2-3 sessions with a trainer. They can teach you the proper form (which is really important) and can help you set up a program. Most are less than $75/hr and are a really good investment for someone new to weight training.

One other thing, snatch and kettle ball swings work great with dumbbells so try to get them into your routine. Good luck!

0 · February 08, 2014 at 9:09 AM

Great Article Thanks Very Much

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0 · February 08, 2014 at 9:08 AM

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95 · June 07, 2013 at 9:34 PM

Street Workout! You don't need dumbbells. Pull: pullups, rows Push: pushups, dips, handstand Legs: Squats, lunges, calf raises

236 · June 07, 2013 at 7:46 PM

In addition to all the great advice that has already been given, I'd like to add: don't forget to change it up!

I stalled in my "weightloss" journey (it's more of a reduce-body-fat journey, actually) and felt very discouraged. Once I shook up my schedule a bit though, the inches starting melting off again.

15261 · April 03, 2013 at 10:37 PM

Dumbells are great for at-home exercises and there is a large variety of what you can do. The best ways to burn fat are to use your largest muscles in brief, intense exercise, or long-term low-intensity exercise such as walking. You could alternate days, or just walk every day and do intense exercise every other day.

Your largest muscles are your glutes, quads, and core, and to a lesser extent your upper body, so exercises that hit those are a good place to start. Remember the exercise should be intense, with fast, explosive movements, but you don't have to do it for long, something like 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, repeated for 5-10 minutes, then repeat all that 2 or 3 times, is a great start. Note that that can be just 15 minutes every other day which doesn't sound like a lot but can make a huge difference. And nobody can say that they don't have 45 minutes per week to exercise. You can start with low weights and work up to more weight and reps later.

You can search here for exercise ideas or Google around, and probably find YouTube videos of people showing you how to do them. Off of the top of my head I'd recommend:

squats (with just your body weight or "air squats", or holding a dumbell) sit-ups v-ups dumbell dead lifts dumbell press, and push press push-ups (you can start with your knees on the ground initially if you want) push-ups on dumbells (makes it tougher) wind mills

there are other exercises that require more technique that you might want to learn in a class, but they are fun and mix up your routine:

hang cleans turkish get-ups thrusters (basically a squat followed by a press)

Kettlebells are a whole other world and I find those exercises fun and interesting, the basic two-handed kettlebell swing is a great full-body exercise and that alone will probably get you burning fat.

Good luck!

3365 · April 03, 2013 at 6:59 PM

P90x... you can get most of the DVDs separately.

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