Most Effective Strength Training Exercises You Can Do at Home

Benefits of Strength Training Exercises

Sense of accomplishment not enough? The advantages of weight and resistance training offer plenty more reasons to expand your fitness routine.

1. They burn fat

When you do an intense resistance training program, the “afterburn effect” of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) keeps your metabolism elevated for up to 72 hours afterward. That facilitates the burning of fat long after a workout, compared with lower- and moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise.

2. They build muscle

Fat loss is just one component of any body transformation. The other is muscular development, which can go just as far in determining how you look. For men, that may mean added size, while for women it will most often mean shape, as they lack the hormonal makeup to gain that kind of mass.

That’s even more important if you’re losing weight — 25 percent of which may be muscle — to dieting and low-intensity cardio. Strength training exercises can help preserve and even build muscle fiber that might otherwise be lost, which is especially crucial for those in their 30s and beyond, when muscle mass naturally decreases.

3. They boost metabolism

It takes energy to sustain muscle, so the more of it there is, the more calorie-burning capacity you have. That makes your body more metabolically active and efficient, even while at rest.

4. They strengthen bones

Bones under stress respond not unlike muscles under stress, stimulating the release of osteoblasts that build new bone tissue. An estimated 1.5 million people suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture every year, so resistance training is a natural complement to calcium and vitamin D intake.

5. They reduce injuries

Strength training builds stronger ligaments and tendons, and promotes more balanced body mechanics, decreasing the likelihood of injury during exercise and in daily life.

Weightlifting Exercises With Dumbbells

Dumbbell bench press

Target muscles: Chest, as well as the triceps, shoulders

  • Lie on a flat bench holding a pair of dumbbells directly above your chest with your palms facing forward. Your head, upper back, and butt should touch the bench, and your feet should be flat on the floor.
  • Slowly lower the weights to the sides of your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body (not flared).
  • Pause, and then push the weights back up to the starting position.
Dumbbell Squats

Target muscles: Quads and glutes, but also hamstrings

  • Stand with your feet hip- to shoulder-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length by your sides.
  • Keeping your back flat and core braced, push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Pause, then push yourself back up to the starting position.
Bent-over row

Target muscles: Back, as well as the shoulders, biceps, and core

  • Stand with your feet hip- to shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Brace your core, push your hips back, bend your knees slightly, and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor.
  • Let the dumbbells hang at arms length with your palms facing back. Engage your shoulder blades to keep your shoulders pulled back (i.e., don’t hunch). This is the starting position.
  • Without moving your torso, and while keeping your chin and elbows tucked and back flat, row the weights to the outsides of your ribcage as you squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Pause, and then lower the weights back to the starting position.
Standing Dumbbell Curls

Target muscles: Biceps

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells and let them hang at arm’s length by your thighs, palms facing forward.
  • Keeping your elbows tucked and your upper arms locked in place, curl the dumbbells as close to your shoulders as you can.
  • Pause, and then slowly lower the weights back to the starting position.
Shoulder Press

Target muscles: Shoulders, upper back, and triceps

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, and hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your shoulders with your elbows tucked and palms facing each other.
  • Press the weights directly above your shoulders until your arms are straight and your biceps are next to your ears.
  • Pause, and then lower the weights back to the starting position.

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