Dumbbells don't get their name from intelligence-deficient jocks as many might think.
The word "dumbbell" originated in England. Those with the task of ringing church bells needed significant strength to pull the rope attached to the bell in the church tower. To condition themselves, the bell ringers would take the clappers out of the bells during practice. This way, they could train without ringing the bells.
Back then, "dumb" applied more to those who were unable to speak. Training with "dumb bells," church bells that didn't make noise, was how the bell ringers got in shape. Bell work was popularized and with time the dumbbell started to look more like the weights we know today. As the equipment changed, the name stayed the same.
History aside, dumbbells are still a good way to train and develop your body.
As a trainer, I like them because they teach people how to control their body. Performing a biceps curl isn't just flexing the arm at the elbow with as much weight as you can handle. The core and upper back need to be in good position to properly isolate the biceps.
Good posture is not just a thing to use during exercise. Effective exercise principles can be applied to everyday tasks. Can you keep your core and back aligned correctly during a biceps curl? How about while sitting at the computer? Most people answer yes to the core part and no to the computer part. Why? What happened? Answer: The training was left at the gym.
Today's exercises are some of my favorite posture movements. They teach correct muscle recruitment and can lead to some serious strength improvements.
I show the dumbbell incline press to many new clients. It demonstrates how you can condition yourself to rely on the correct form and posture. Thinking about each element will teach your body valuable recruitment lessons.
Getting fit is just a side effect. A shoulder limitation may deter you from doing this exercise. If you're suffering from shoulder pain or injury then get it checked out. If a doctor doesn't find anything wrong, then start stretching and gently moving the shoulder through its full range of motion. Hold off on the weighted exercises until you are confident in your shoulder's ability. Ask a trainer at your gym for help with shoulder mobility.
I teach the farmers walk to those who are prone to slouch. There's only one way to walk with heavy a load, the right way. That's with the core tight, the back locked in, and with a strong grip. What better way to train posture and form than walking with a controllable load. The farmers walk is a very functional movement. We often hold things while we walk. Whether it be groceries, a backpack or a child.
Teen guys will love this exercise. Holding 50-pound dumbbells and walking around the gym with your chest proud does wonders for the ego.
These exercises also fit well into circuits. There is little setup and the transitions between them and your next exercise will be quick. Remember to make your training useful. The weights have to stay at the gym but the results will go home with you.
Chris Huth is a Las Vegas trainer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.