Dumbbell Circuit Training Routines
Improve muscular endurance and definition as well as overall cardiovascular fitness.
Dumbbells have grown more popular in training programs because of their portability and relative inexpensive cost. Circuit training improves muscular endurance and definition as well as overall cardiovascular fitness. Combining the two makes practical sense as dumbbells are more quickly changed than weight plates on a barbell, and more efficient than moving from machine to machine.
Upper Body Circuit
Dumbbells are used more often for upper body work than any other reason. You will need different weights because of the wide variety of exercises you will complete. In a typical circuit you will include an exercise for each major muscle group of the upper body. Bench press, followed by bent rows and military press, finished with bicep curls and overhead tricep extension is a solid circuit that can be repeated for two rounds if you are already at a high fitness level. You should complete 10 to 12 reps.
Lower Body Circuit
Dumbbells can build strength and endurance without overloading the joints -- vital in lower body training because of the weakness of the knee joint. Because of the lack of major muscle groups in your lower body, there aren't many exercises available. Squats can be done with dumbbells held at the shoulders or with arms hanging. Lunges are a more common exercise with dumbbells, and can be followed with calf raises. If you have a partner, you can even do leg curls with a dumbbell held between the arches of your feet. If you are at a high fitness level you can perform these four exercises twice in one circuit. Reps for lunges and leg curls can stay at 12 to 15, but for squats and calf raises, reps should number at least 20.
Total Body Circuit
If your primary goal is cardiovascular fitness and muscle definition, then a total body circuit training routine may be the best way to achieve it. Ideally in this routine you would choose two upper body exercises and two lower body exercises, as well as two exercises that incorporate the entire body. You can also include exercises for your abdominals for an eight exercise circuit that is challenging for even the best trained athletes. A circuit of dumbbell power clean, bench press, squat, weighted crunches, dumbbell snatch, bent rows, lunges, and weighted toe touches will challenge anyone.
You can adjust your circuit to your own fitness level by adjusting your rest. When and how long you rest can make the workout easier or more challenging. When you begin your workout routine you should rest for no more than a minute between exercises, and no more than three between sets of the circuit. As you improve, you will only need to rest after each set of the circuit. If you reach a plateau or need to be challenged, simply adjust your rest time or increase the weight.