To beat the waiting game at the gym, try dumbbells

As inevitable as politicians relentlessly slinging mud as the election gets closer, so is the reality of someone occupying the very machine you need to use.

If the occupier is a courteous gymgoer, he or she will let you work in. Otherwise, they just sit there with their earphones in as they ignore you waiting patiently.

They see you. They just don’t care.

If gym jerks are a constant problem for you, then reach deep into your knowledge bag and pick up some dumbbells. Most machine exercises can be done with dumbbells. So leave Sir Gym-Jerk on his throne in machine kingdom while you conquer the realm of dumbbells – they give you better stabilization, anyway.

True, dumbbells can be dangerous. You could drop them or lift one improperly. The key when using dumbbells is control. If you’re in control, you will have an awesome workout.

As a trainer, I use dumbbells to teach muscle control. For example, keeping the core tight while maintaining the upper back in good position during biceps curls on one foot takes a great deal of focus.

Performing a movement while stabilizing and feeling the body’s position is important for neuromuscular control.

That sense of the body’s position can be your greatest ally in the fight against injury. If you feel that something is off in your form, you can correct it before starting a set. This is why most dumbbell racks are in front of mirrors. They help you with form and control.

The default form for most dumbbell exercises is to have the core tight, the back straight and the legs in proper alignment with the hips. Move only what needs to move. No need to swing the back if you’re doing biceps curls.

Some exercises require you to be lying down. For these exercises, your feet should be supporting your base by driving into the floor. Keep your glutes tight, too. This adds stabilization.

Today’s exercises correspond to popular machines that can be tied up frequently.

Do the dumbbell squats when the leg press machine is busy. Positioning the weight against the chest as if you’re grasping a large goblet is a comfortable way to hold a dumbbell for squats. It is easy to keep the shoulders back and the back in proper form.

Doing triceps kickbacks instead of the triceps machine will help you improve your stabilization and muscular control. Keeping the elbow from swinging takes some concentration.

Chris Huth is a Las Vegas trainer. You can contact him at Before beginning any exercise program, consult your physician.

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