Every lifter remembers their first.
Most of us were probably awkward, acne ridden teens with pencil thin calves, curious about curls, carbs and creatine. We were wide-eyed, reciting Ronnie Coleman quotes with dreams of Olympias and five plate squats.
Maybe you’d read about it in Muscle & Fitness. Maybe you saw a video on the internet and wanted to try it for yourself.
You probably remember the nervous excitement, the sweat and even the soreness after. It was clumsy, it probably didn’t last very long, but it was the day you fell in love.
Serious lifters never forget their first pair of dumbbells.
Owning your first set of weights is a rite of passage for fitness lovers, and usually the moment an obsession is born, before you lay them to rest to gather cobwebs and rust in the garage as you graduate to a gym membership.
With lifters now in lockdown, most of those same dumbbells have been unearthed from their dusty graves, as we salvage whatever gym equipment we can find to maintain our muscles at home.
While it might bring back fond memories, a lot of lifters might be feeling uncertain about how to use an old pair of dumbbells for maximum effect. That’s why the Ryderwear team have created this brutal dumbbell-only workout, designed to torch your upper body from every angle.
Watch our Ryderwear athlete Kwame Duah take you through five challenging supersets
Kwame’s At Home Dumbbell Workout
DB Superset Workout
5 x 12 Shoulder Press
5 x 12 Lateral Raise + Bicep Curls
5 x 12 Reverse Flyes + Tricep Dips
5 x 12 Front Raise + Hammer Curl
5 x 20 Arnold Press + Close Push Up
45 - 60 Seconds Between Sets
Sit down, making sure your back is fully supported by the couch. Start with the dumbbells up by your shoulders, with your palms facing in with your upper arms slightly lower than parallel to the ground. From here, push the dumbbells up above you until your arms are fully extended, then return to the start position in a controlled manner, keeping tension through your shoulders at all times.
‘Being a compound movement, you’re engaging a lot of synergistic muscles in the process, so make sure you keep the movement controlled, so you end up using and fatiguing more muscles’
Starting with the dumbbells down by your side and your palms facing your midline in a neutral grip, slightly bend your elbows and maintain this angle throughout the rep. Lift the dumbbells out laterally to your sides, level with your shoulders. Make sure you keep your core engaged and back straight throughout the exercise to help avoid any body swings or arching of your lower back.
Hold the dumbbells in an underhand grip. With your elbows locked into a fixed position by your ribs, pull one Dumbbell up towards your shoulders by engaging your biceps and rotating your grip so your palms face up, before lowering back down in a controlled manner to the starting position. Complete on the other side, alternating for each repetition. Make sure you keep your core and glutes engaged to avoid any arching of your lower back and swinging of your body.
Kwame has a top tip for cashing in on your curls: ‘Give your biceps a little bit of a squeeze at the top of the movement so you can really feel that pump. I know everyone loves the pump!’
Sit on the edge of the seat, Engage your core and hinge at the hips. Relax your arms so the dumbbells are by your side, with your palms facing each other with a slight bend in your elbow joints. Maintaining this position, bring the dumbbells up as far as you can laterally, before lowering back down to the start position in a controlled manner. It's important to maintain your elbow angle and to squeeze your shoulder blades together to engage your upper back muscles.
Place your hands behind you on the couch around shoulder width apart, plant your feet in front of your with your legs bent. Slowly lower yourself down in a controlled manner until your elbow angle is at 90 degrees.
Kwame’s advice for total tricep burn: ‘Focus on pushing through your palms, to get the triceps activated. Brace your core and move nice and controlled’
Hold the Dumbbells down just in front of your legs with your palms facing forward in a pronated grip. Lift the dumbbells up to be level with your shoulders before lowering back down in a controlled manner. Throughout the exercise you should have a very slight bend in your elbow joint that should be consistent throughout the lift. Engage your core and keep your back straight to avoid any swinging of your body.
In the standing position using the hammer grip, keep your elbow fixed as you raise one dumbbell up towards your shoulder before lowering down in a controlled manner and repeating on the other side. Engage your core and isolate your bicep to avoid any swaying throughout the movement.
Sit on the couch with dumbbells at the shoulders in front of your face, with your palms facing towards your head. Rotate your hands, while simultaneously pushing the Dumbbells straight up. Reverse this movement on the way down, until you are back to the original position. Make sure your movement is controlled and smooth.
Close Push Ups
Plant your hands close beneath your chest and lower yourself down as low as possible without bouncing your chest off of the ground. Ensure that you do not drop your hips too low or raise your hips too high.
KWAME’S FOUR HOME WORKOUT TIPS
TIP 1: Progressive Overload
Avoid home workout plateaus and keep shattering the strength ceiling with progressive overload, but it doesn’t always mean adding another plate to the bar. Extra reps, isometric holds and longer time under tension are all ways of progressively overloading your home workouts!
TIP 2: Mind Muscle Connection
Focus your mental energy on contracting your target muscles, rather than simply moving the weight as quickly as possible so you can check your Insta DM’s. By improving your mind muscle connection you’ll be able to make every rep count!
TIP 3: Squeeze at the Top
‘If you can’t feel it in your muscles, give it a little bit of a squeeze right at the top of the movement, and I guarantee you, you’ll get a nice pump’. By squeezing the target muscle at the top of the rep (the concentric phase), you’ll cause more micro-trauma to your muscle fibres, leading to more hypertrophy!
TIP 4: Hold it for 3 Seconds
As well as squeezing, Kwame likes to hold the weight at the top of the movement for three seconds. Isometric holds can build some serious muscle, and are perfect for housebound hypertrophy, where equipment is scarce. We delve deeper into the science of maintaining muscle at home here.
Dust of those dumbbells and blast your upper body with this dumbbell-only home workout! But remember, working out is just a small part of the pandemic puzzle. If you spend the remaining 23 hours on the couch eating peanut butter cups, it’s not going to be good for your gains. Kwame’s advice for holistic at-home health is to ‘Make sure you eat well, go out and get some sun, exercise regularly, do some cardiovascular fitness. Also try and focus on mental health! You can’t put a price on your health so make sure you treat yourself well’
Want to read more of Ryderwear’s Coronavirus content? Check out our Guide to Staying Fit During Coronavirus!