Free weights, or dumbbells, are amazing. You should be using them whenever you get the chance. The ability to isolate your arm or leg will lead to some great results. We always talk about having that beach body or a trouble area and free weights can help you get that body or get rid of that trouble area. Free weights also helps with coordination. Not only that, if you are a bit shy, you can go somewhere else in the gym and lift away. Or you can use them to workout at home!
But aside from bicep curls, what else can you do with them? This guide is going to give you some amazing free weight exercises for women to get you closer to your fitness goals.
Traditional Isolation Exercises
Isolation exercises focus on one specific muscle or muscle group. Bicep curls fall under this. Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing isolation exercises and you can see results with them but you have to know what you are doing
These types of exercises usually are split into body parts, where several muscle groups are worked out in a day (this is commonly known as a split). The most basic split is Upper Body on one day and Lower Body on another.
Here is an example of an Upper Body split (all done with free weights):
- Bench Press: 3 sets, 10 repetitions per set
- Chest Fly: 3 sets, 10 repetitions per set
- Overhead Shoulder Press: 3 sets, 10 repetitions per set
- Side Later Raise: 3 sets, 10 repetitions per set
- Bent Over Rows: 3 sets, 10 repetitions per set
- Bicep Curls: 3 sets, 10 repetitions per set
- Triceps Extensions: 3 sets, 10 repetitions per set
- Side Bend: 3 sets, 10 repetitions per set
Here is an example of a Lower Body split (all done with free weights):
- Squat: 3 sets, 10 repetitions per set
- Deadlift: 3 sets, 10 repetitions per set
- Reverse Lunges: 3 sets, 10 repetitions per set
- Sumo Squat: 3 sets, 10 repetitions per set
- Single Leg Deadlift: 3 sets, 10 repetitions per set (5 each leg)
- Curtsy Lunge: 3 sets, 10 repetitions per set
- Weighted Glute Bridge: 3 sets, 10 repetitions per set
- Dumbbell Swings: 3 sets, 10 repetitions per set
Usually a week-long workout done in this format can look like this:
|Upper Split||Lower Split||Cardio/Abs||Upper Split||Lower Split||Cardio or Rest||Rest|
These isolation exercises are a great introduction to working out. And the 3 by 10 set rep is a good start as well. It lets you start at a medium weight and find your rhythm. These types of workouts allow you to get in touch with your body, see where your strength is at, and allow you to build a solid foundation to move on to something a little more challenging, like compound exercises.
I have recently started doing compound exercises and have fallen in love with it. These types of exercises usually involves two or more major muscle groups being worked at the same time. This gives you an additional burn both during and after the workout. And usually, it ends up working the whole body.
That means that instead of working your upper body only two days a week, you end up working it five, which leads to results a bit faster than traditional isolation exercises.
Here is an example of a compound exercise routine:
- Squat Press: 2 sets, 15 repetitions per set
- Curty Lunge with Sidekick: 2 sets, 15 repetitions per set
- Reverse Lunge to Front Knee Raise: 2 sets, 15 repetitions per set
- Deadlift to Upright Row: 2 sets, 15 repetitions per set
- Single Arm Skull Crushers with Bicycles: 2 sets, 15 repetitions per set
- Chest Fly with Leg Raises: 2 sets, 15 repetitions per set
- Renegade Rows: 2 sets, 15 repetitions per set
Compound exercises are tough! Because of that, you can go a little lighter with your free weights. And I also would not recommend starting with compound exercises if you’ve never lifted weights before. But once you feel like you are ready, you can try these out. And to challenge yourself further you can do the 2 by 15 rep set as I recommended or you can do the 3 by 10.
Change It Up
The best part of using free weights is the flexibility. You can take it with you. You can do more in between weights like 8lbs or 12lbs. For some exercises, you can use one free weight (like squats) or both free weights.
Also, I love adding resistance bands to both types of exercises to help activate my muscles further. Another thing I like to do is combine both isolated and compound exercises to focus a little more on one body part or another. But of course, you can do whatever you feel comfortable with. Free weight exercises for women can challenge both beginners and advanced lady lifters alike.
Of course, you may struggle to do these workouts without some free weights. After some research, I have found a great brand the provides you with a variety of different weights to fit your fitness level but also is affordable and durable. Check out the j/fit Dumbbell Set w/Durable Rack.
Feel free to give any of these exercises a try next time you work out!