Saturday, January 25, 2014

Advanced Upper Body Dumbbell Course - Tom Smillie







There is a visual power about dumbbells even more so than than barbells. To see a man lift a 200 lb barbell and press it overhead is impressive, but much more so if it is two 100-lb dumbbells. The number of plates required (e.g. 10 x 10 lb plates) makes the dumbbells appear thick and massive, in contrast to the hands holding them. Dumbbells enable the trainee to attack his muscle groups from entirely different angles than he could with barbells. Each area trained must perform independently from the other, there is no umbilical cord in the form of a bar linking the dumbbells together. The bodybuilder can bring a precise weight to bear on a specific muscle thus encouraging the growth of a lagging body part and enabling him to blast beyond a sticking point. There are certain advantages of course, the main one being that dumbbells are of limited use in developing the legs. However, this is more than compensated by their versatility in other areas such as the arms. Due to their more specific effect on certain muscle areas dumbbells are of ten used for defining muscle groups. However, I feel that defining or bulking up are results of diet not repetitions. There are vast ranges of repetitions employed by many champions. If you change to dumbbell training there is no need to alter the combination of repetitions that you find suitable. I have listed those repetitions that I think work best. As you are an advanced trainer I will assume that you are handling respectably heavy poundages, in which case I will offer some words of warning. Have a partner to spot you. Remember that dumbbells are not connected. Your stronger side cannot take some of the strain for your weaker side. Being free, the dumbbells have a greater range of movement. Do not allow your concentration to waver or you may find yourself losing control of one of the dumbbells resulting in serious muscle tearing.

I have divided the course into two areas: Power Training and Muscle Shaping. After each exercise you will find advice on how to get the best results from that particular exercise and the number of sets and repetitions for the type of training you are doing.



ADVANCED DUMBBELL TRAINING ROUTINE



MUSCLE AREA - Chest.
EXERCISE - Dumbbell Flyes.
TECHNIQUE - There is no need to use light weights, but be careful to maintain control at all times. Lie on a flat bench and with the dumbbells at arms' length above you turn your knuckles so that they face each other. Keep your elbows well back and unlocked. Your arms should form a slight curve. Breathing in, lower the weights bringing your arms below the level of the bench. Your arms will now form a crucifix position with your body. Now return the dumbbells to the starting position, breathing out as you do so.
POWER TRAINING - 3 sets of 15 reps. Use these as a warmup for dumbbell bench press and superset them with the first 3 sets of this exercise.
MUSCLE SHAPING - 5 sets of 6 reps. Do as a superset with dumbbell bench press.

MUSCLE AREA - Chest.
EXERCISE - Dumbbell Bench Press.
TECHNIQUE - Take two heavy dumbbells and clean them to your thighs at the same time as you sit down on the end of a flat bench. From here lie back, and as you do this bring up your thighs thus helping you to clean the dumbbells to arms' length. Make sure you have them under control. Lower to your chest, keeping your elbows back. Your forearms should form a right angle with your upper arms. An angle greater than 90 degrees could put undue stress on your pectorals; an angle less than 90 degrees will take too much stress away from your pectorals. Press to start position and repeat.
POWER TRAINING - 3 sets of 3 reps. Do these as a superset with the flyes. 3 sets of 1 rep. Do 3 separate sets of 1 rep each (singles).
MUSCLE SHAPING - 5 sets of 6 reps. Do these as supersets with the flyes. 

Incline pressing and incline flyes can be substituted at times.

To make it easier to see, the chest routine will look like this:

For power training -
Dumbbell Flyes 3 x 15 supersetted with
Dumbbell Bench Press 3 x 3.

Dumbbell Bench Press - 3 singles.

For muscle shaping -
Dumbbell Flyes 5 x 6 reps supersetted with
Dumbbell Bench Press 5 x 6.


MUSCLE AREA - Back.
EXERCISE - Dumbbell Pullovers.
TECHNIQUE - Lie on a flat bench with your head at the end of the bench but not projecting over it. With the plates of one end resting on the palms of your hands hold the dumbbell at arms' length above you. With your elbows unlocked allow the weight to travel back slowly until has passed the level of the bench, then raise it. Keep your body on the bench and do not allow your backside to rise. By keeping your body flat you will pull the dumbbell back using only your lats and pecs.
POWER TRAINING - 6 sets of 6 reps.
MUSCLE SHAPING - 5 sets of 8 reps.

EXERCISE - Dumbbell Rowing.
TECHNIQUE - With your hand on a flat bench, bend your legs slightly but keep your back straight and parallel to the floor. Grasp a heavy dumbbell and let it hang at arm's length. Now raise it steadily until it touches your chest, then lower it slowly. Do not let the dumbbell touch the floor but let it hang for a breath or two then repeat the move.
POWER TRAINING - 6,6,4,4,2,2 reps. Your back is strong, so use heavy dumbbells but keep the movement strict and DO NOT CHEAT.
MUSCLE SHAPING - 5 sets of 6 reps. Go from one arm to the other, do not pause between sets at any time.

The Back portion of the workout:

For power training -
Dumbbell Pullovers 6 x 6.
Dumbbell Rowing 6,6,4,4,2,2

For muscle shaping -
Dumbbell Pullovers 5 sets of 8.
Dumbbell Rowing 5 x 6.


MUSCLE AREA - Shoulders.
We will look at the exercises for power training first.
EXERCISE - Dumbbell Shrugs - 4 sets of 6 reps.
TECHNIQUE - Take two heavy dumbbells and stand erect with your arms at your sides. Rotate your deltoids forward, up (try holding the top position for a two second contraction), then back to the original position.

EXERCISE - Dumbbell Standing Press (4 x 3 reps), Alternate Dumbbell Press (3 single reps).
TECHNIQUE - Clean two heavy dumbbells, then press them overhead. Do 4 sets of 3 reps, then increase the weight and go on to alternate dumbbell presses. Clean the dumbbells, then press first with your left arm, lower to your shoulder, then press with your right arm. Do 1 rep for 3 sets. That's a clean, a press with the left, then a press with the right. Three times.

Now we will look at the exercises for muscle shaping.
EXERCISE - Dumbbell Standing Press 8,6,4,2,1.
TECHNIQUE - Start at the lighter end of the dumbbell rack. Clean the weights to your shoulders, draw your elbows back so that your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Move the dumbbells up but don't extend your arms to their full length, keep your elbows bent. Your arms will make a semi-circular movement as you push the dumbbells up. Advance along the rack increasing the weight as you decrease the reps. Pause as little as possible between sets and reps. Do 8,6,4,2,1 reps.

EXERCISE - Dumbbell Lateral Raises 4 tri-sets.
TECHNIQUE - Take a moderate to light weight pair of dumbbells and stand erect with your arms hanging in front of you, bells on your thighs. Lean back slightly and raise your left dumbbell in a forward raise to about eye level. Lower slowly and repeat with your right arm. Immediately take two slightly heavier dumbbells and, keeping your arms slightly bent, raise the bells in a lateral movement to just above shoulder level. Lower slowly. Now take two lighter dumbbells and bend your upper body forward with your knees slightly bent. Keep your back straight and parallel to the floor and perform a real lateral raise. Do these exercises as a Tri-Set with 3 reps for each movement for a total of 9 reps each Tri-Set. Do 4 Tri-Sets.

The Shoulder section of the workout:

For power training -
Dumbbell Shrugs - 4 x 6 reps.
Dumbbell Standing Press - 4 x 3 reps.
Dumbbell Standing Alternate Press - 3 cleans and 3 singles. Clean, left press, right press.

For muscle shaping -
Dumbbell Standing Partial Press - 8,6,4,2,1.
3-Way Lateral Raise Tri-Set - 4 sets of 9 reps.


MUSCLE AREA - Arms.
EXERCISE - Seated Hammer Curls.
TECHNIQUE FOR POWER TRAINING - This exercise involves both the biceps and forearms. Sit at the end of a flat bench with your arms hanging at your sides holding two heavy dumbbells, palms facing each other. Curl the dumbbells up simultaneously, keeping your thumbs facing up. Do 4 sets of 4 reps.

EXERCISE - Alternate Dumbbell Curl.
TECHNIQUE FOR POWER TRAINING - Stand erect with your arms hanging in front of you with the backs of your hands resting on your thighs. Curl your left hand first in the usual way, lower slowly, then repeat with your right arm. Increase the weight as you decrease the reps. Do sets of 3,2,1,1.

EXERCISE - Incline Dumbbell Curl.
TECHNIQUE FOR MUSCLE SHAPING - Lie on an incline bench with your arms hanging by your sides, palms forward. Curl both bells simultaneously, lift your upper arm slightly so that the plates clear your shoulders, then lower slowly. Do 4 sets of 6 reps.

EXERCISE - Dumbbell Concentration Curl.
TECHNIQUE FOR MUSCLE SHAPING - Sit at the end of a flat bench and take a light to moderate dumbbell. Lean forward and place your upper left arm against the inside of your left thigh. Put the back of your right hand against the inside of your left thigh. Put the back of your right hand against your left upper arm also, this is to immobilize your left arm. Now slowly curl the dumbbell, making sure you do not cheat. Squeeze the biceps at the top of the curl and hold, then slowly lower the weight. Do 4 sets of 6 reps.

MUSCLE AREA - Triceps.
EXERCISE - Lying Dumbbell Extension.
TECHNIQUE FOR POWER TRAINING - Lie on a flat bench with two moderate dumbbells at arms' length, palms facing each other. Lower the weights until the plates just touch the bench and then straighten the arms back out. Do 4 sets of 4 reps.

EXERCISE - Standing Dumbbell Extension.
TECHNIQUE FOR POWER TRAINING - Hold a moderate to heavy dumbbell at arms' length above your head while standing erect, with the top plates resting on the palms of your hands. Lower the dumbbell until the upper plates just touch the back of your neck then straighten. Keep your elbows pointing forward all the time. Do 4 sets of 4 reps.

EXERCISE - Dumbbell Single Arm Extension.
TECHNIQUE FOR MUSCLE SHAPING -  This can be done standing or seated on a flat bench. take a light to moderate dumbbell and hold it in your left arm at arm's length above your head. Put the palm of your hand against the back of your left upper arm. Slowly lower the weight with your palm facing forward and keeping your upper arm stationary. When the top plates touch the top of the back of your neck straighten out your arm. Do 4 sets of 6 reps supersetted with:

EXERCISE - Dumbbell Triceps Kickback.
Take up the same position as you would for dumbbell rowing but use a light to moderate dumbbell. Raise your arm so that your upper arm is tight against the side of your chest. The exercise starts in this position. Extend your arm back so that your arm is now parallel to the floor and your triceps are contracted. Try to hold this position for a second or two, then return the dumbbell to the starting position. Do this in superset fashion for 4 sets of 6 reps.

The Arm Section of the Workout:

For power training -
Seated Hammer Curl 4 x 4.
Alternate Dumbbell Curl 3,2,1,1.
Lying Dumbbell Extension 4 x 4.
Standing Dumbbell Extension 4 x 4.

For muscle shaping -
Incline Dumbbell Curl 4 x 6 reps.
Dumbbell Concentration Curl 4 x 6.
Dumbbell Single Arm Extension 4 x 6 supersetted with ->
Dumbbell Triceps Kickback 4 x 6.


This then is the course:

For Power Training -

Dumbbell Flyes 3 x 15 supersetted with
Dumbbell Bench Press 3 x 3.
Dumbbell Pullovers 6 x 6.
Dumbbell Rowing 6,6,4,4,2,2
Dumbbell Shrugs - 4 x 6 reps.
Dumbbell Standing Press - 4 x 3 reps.
Dumbbell Standing Alternate Press - 3 cleans and 3 singles. Clean, left press, right press.
Seated Hammer Curl 4 x 4.
Alternate Dumbbell Curl 3,2,1,1.
Lying Dumbbell Extension 4 x 4.
Standing Dumbbell Extension 4 x 4.


For Muscle Shaping -
Dumbbell Flyes 5 x 6 reps supersetted with
Dumbbell Bench Press 5 x 6.
Dumbbell Pullovers 5 sets of 8.
Dumbbell Rowing 5 x 6.
Dumbbell Standing Partial Press - 8,6,4,2,1.
3-Way Lateral Raise Tri-Set - 4 sets of 9 reps.
Incline Dumbbell Curl 4 x 6 reps.
Dumbbell Concentration Curl 4 x 6.
Dumbbell Single Arm Extension 4 x 6 supersetted with ->
Dumbbell Triceps Kickback 4 x 6.


Do the exercises in the order given. This will give your upper body a completely thorough workout in a way that ties the muscle groups together and progresses from the larger muscle areas to the smaller. The arms are also last due to the fact that most people enjoy arm training, at least in comparison to other muscle groups, and although tired near the end of a workout will still give this area maximum effort. I suggest you do this routine 3 times a week. You can alternate the two routines or simply use one for a period of time, then the other.

As stated earlier, dumbbells are not very suitable for leg work, mainly because the leg muscles are much stronger than those of your hands and your grip will give out well before your legs have been fully worked, especially noticeable when doing lower reps. Certainly as regards power training barbells are a must. There are no advantages to using dumbbells when training for leg strength and development, and many disadvantages. Conversely, substituting dumbbells for barbells as outlined above will give your upper body training a whole new dimension and impressive results will follow. For muscle conditioning you could substitute dumbbells for barbells in such moves as Hack Squats or lunges and other single-leg movements, but there would be little, if any benefit to be gained.

All the exercises are interchangeable. For example, you may wish to use heavy weights in the Alternate Dumbbell Curl and then follow with a shaping exercise like the Concentration Curl. Simply follow the directions given in regards to exercise technique and combine them as you wish.


Remember during training that you must use progressively heavier and heavier weights. With dumbbells it is not always possible to increase the weight by 1 or 2 pounds at a time. Thus you will find that you will be doing 6-10 reps before you can step up to the next set of dumbbells and return to 4 reps. It may be necessary to cheat for the last 2 reps, but don't cheat from the first rep. If you have to, the weight is too heavy.

Changing to a dumbbell routine can give you an interesting and stimulating change, thus increasing your motivation to train. Set yourself reasonable goals, that is, goals you can attain. Having attained them, you can set new ones for yourself once again. Train regularly, the body responds best to regular demands, and get adequate rest and sleep. The latter definitely varies from person to person but you should know yourself whether you are adequately rested by your level of energy for your regular activities plus your training.

     












   


















































































































































































































































 


















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