One of the MOST POPULAR, and most challenging, workout formats on the blog. In fact, this intense, 50-Minute Pyramid Workouthas been named the hardest workout on NML.
If you love a challenge, and testing your muscular endurance, you gotta try these 7 Best Free Weight Exercises!
These free weight exercises (AKA dumbbell exercises) make one, KILLER, 45-minute total body dumbbell workout.
What Makes this Dumbbell Workout for Women so Challenging?
7 POWERFUL, compound dumbbell exercises.
‘Compound Exercises’ engage multiple muscle groups at once.
For example, the reverse lunge, bicep curl and upright row exercise targets the hamstrings, glutes and quads during the reverse lunge. AND it engages the biceps, shoulders, upper back and core for the bicep curl and upright row.
Talk about total body burn.
What are the Best Free Weight Exercises for Women?
A free weight is any kind of weight that isn’t attached to an apparatus (think lifting weights, dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells). Most commonly this means dumbbell exercises.
The best dumbbell exercises for women include:
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Dumbbell Bicep Curl
Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extensions or Skull Crushers
What are the Benefits of Using Dumbbells to Workout at Home?
Build Lean Muscle
Increase Bone Density
Improve Hormone Health
What’s the Difference Between Free Weights and Machine Weights?
I’ll coach you through each exercise, keeping track of timed intervals and providing form and modification cues as we go. This is a pyramid workout, which means we’ll add on moves as we work “up” the pyramid, and then drop off moves as we work our way back “down” the pyramid.
So it will look like this:
Set 1: Perform move 1 for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of rest.
Set 2: Perform move 1 for 30 seconds + move 2 for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of rest.
Set 3: Perform move 1 for 30 seconds + move 2 for 30 seconds + move 3 for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of rest.
Continue this stack-on, pyramid format until you complete moves 1 through 7. Then you have the option to go back down the pyramid in reverse order, dropping off move 1, then move 2, then move 3 and so on.
7 Best Free Weight Exercises for Women
Clean and Press
2-Pulse Squat + 2 Press Jacks
Reverse Lunge + Bicep Curl + Upright Row
Alternating Lunge Drops
Push Up + Dumbbell Pass
Lateral Lunge + Balance Press
Glute Bridge + Tricep Skull Crusher
1. Clean and Overhead Press
Targets: Lower body power generating muscles — glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. And mainly the shoulders in the upper body, but also works the traps, middle and lower back, and abdominals.
How to do a Clean and Press:
With a slight bend in your knees, hinge your hips back and power through your hamstrings and glutes to “swing” the dumbbells up to shoulder height.
Your heels will pop up off the ground as you finish the “clean” motion; pressing the dumbbells overhead and locking out the elbows with arms straight overhead.
2. 2 Pulse Squat + 2 Press Jacks
Targets: Glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings in the legs; and mainly the shoulders in the upper body. Also a cardio exercise.
How to do a Pulse Squat and Press Jack:
Aim to stay as low in your squat as possible during the pulse squat.
Keep the dumbbell in front of your body, at your chest, during the squat.
Option to make this a low-impact exercise by tapping out instead of jacking out.
3. Reverse Lunge + Bicep Curl + Upright Row
Targets: Legs, butt, quadriceps, and hamstrings in the legs; and mainly the biceps and upper back of the arms.
How to do a Reverse Lunge and Bicep Curl and Upright Row:
Aim for a shorter lunge stance — you want a 90 degree angle in both knees. Dropping your back knee straight down towards the ground while shoulders remain stacked over hips.
If lunges don’t feel good for your knees, substitute a basic squat. Note: reverse lunges are better for the knees that front lunges.
During both the bicep curl palms face away from the body and then rotate the palms to face the body during the upright row.
4. Alternating Lunge Drops
Targets: Booty burnout — legs, butt, quadriceps, hamstrings, and core.
How to do Lunge Drops:
Option to hold a single dumbbell in both hands, or drop it completely and use just your bodyweight.
To make this a low-impact exercise, step back into an alternating leg reverse lunge; taking out the hop.
5. Push Up + Dumbbell Pass
Targets: Upper body — chest, shoulders, triceps, obliques and abdominals.
How to do a Push Up with Dumbbell Pass:
Focus on good push up form; leading with your chest and lowering your body as one unit.
Option to drop to your knees for the push up and then pop back onto your toes for the dumbbell pass.
When performing push ups from your knees, aim to keep your toes pressed into the ground to engage your lower abs.
6. Lateral Lunge + Balance Press
Targets: Inner thigh muscles in addition to the glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Adding the balance press works the shoulder muscles and core and lower abs.
How to do a Lateral Lunge + Balance Press:
Focus on pushing your hips back during the lateral lunge. Then drive off your bent leg to stand back up.
Option to return to the starting position and perform a single arm shoulder press with both feet on the ground, rather than a single leg balance press.
Note, you’ll perform this exercise on the right side of the body first, then repeat on the other side the next time through the pyramid.
7. Glute Bridge + Skull Crusher
Targets: Glutes, hamstrings, lower back, shoulders and triceps.
How to do a Glute Bridge with Skull Crusher:
Make this exercise harder by hovering your glutes off the ground rather than resting them on the mat between each rep.
Modify this exercise by holding a single dumbbell between both hands rather than holding a dumbbell in each hand.
Note, if squats and lunges don’t feel good for your knees, glute bridges are a great substitution.
More Full Body Dumbbell Workouts for Women At Home: