All You Need For This Workout Is a Set of 2-Pound Weights
You don't have to lift 30-pound dumbbells to tone up and see gains at the gym. In fact, lighter weights can be just as effective as heavy ones, according to a 2010 McMaster University study. The study tracked 49 men who already had experience weight training for a year. Half of the group was assigned to lift heavier weights, which would cause them to fatigue after performing 10 reps. The other group was assigned lighter weights, which would cause fatigue around 25 reps. Both groups would train four times a week for 12 weeks.
Surprisingly, the resulting gains between the two groups were essentially identical. Each set of men improved their strength regardless of the weights lifted. Although the study only monitored men, the scientists have plans to test the same study on women. Their hypothesis? It's muscle fatigue — not the size of the actual weight — that builds stronger muscles. Something our friends at Barre3 know all about.
"By using lighter weights and doing more reps, you're getting deep in your muscle," said Dino Malvone, Barre3 instructor and studio director of its West Village location in New York City. "The goal here is longevity. Yes, lighter weights can be challenging. But for us, lighter weights have clients coming back the next day, and then day after, too."
Created by Sadie Lincoln, Barre3 combines elements of yoga, Pilates, and ballet barre and maxes out using five-pound weights. Want to get all-over toning with just a pair of light dumbbells? We've got you covered. Check out this easy, total-body workout, courtesy of our friends at Barre3. The best part: all you need is a set of two-pound weights, for starters.
"Start with two pounds, and progress from there," Malvone suggested. "You can use different weights for different movements as you get comfortable. Learning how the body works is a part of what keeps you safe."
- Stand with feet hip-distance apart, knees slightly bent, feet firmly rooted to the floor. Take three deep, opening breaths, raising your arms above your head on each inhale, lowering your hands on each exhale.
- Do: 30 seconds
- Benefits: This will help ground your body and calm your nerves so you can focus 100 percent on what your mind and body need today.
- Stand with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out to 11 and 1 o'clock, spine tall, and hands on top of thighs. Rotate your torso to the right as you drop your left shoulder toward your right knee. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.
- Do: 15 seconds on right side, 15 seconds on left side
- Benefits: Opens inner thighs and increases mobility of the spine and hips.
Horse Pose With Lat Pull and Chest Press
- Start with feet out wider than your hips and turn your toes toward 10 and 2 o'clock, elbows close to your side with your forearms fanned out to the side. Bend your knees, keeping your spine long and shoulders stacked over your hips.
- Exhale, and extend your arms out to the side, parallel with the floor. Inhale, and pull your elbows back to your side. Exhale, and push your arms forward in front of your chest toward the sky. Inhale, and pull your elbows back to your side. Repeat.
- Do: 60 seconds
- Benefits: Strengthens inner and outer thighs and glutes. The movement will increase shoulder mobility without wear and tear on the joint. Also strengthens lats, chest, arms, and middle back.
Running Man With Straight Arms
- Start with feet together. Step back with your right leg, bending both knees, and hold. Extend your right arm over your head, left arm straight down next to your left hip. Make sure your left knee is over your ankle, right knee under your hip. Level your hips and keep your spine long. As you stand, draw your right knee into your chest, keeping your spine still, and switch your arms so you left arm is extended and your right arm drops. Step back into your lunge and switch your arms again. Repeat on opposite side.
- Do: 60 seconds on right side, 60 seconds on left side
- Benefits: The movement is great for the core and glutes. The arm movement will help build core strength along with triceps and shoulder strength.
- Come down to your hands and knees and place one weight behind your right knee. Make sure your palms are under your shoulders and spine is long. Engage your core and lift your right leg up without arching your back. Lower back down. Repeat.
- Do: 30 seconds small on right side, 30 seconds small on left side, 30 seconds with bigger range of motion on right side, 30 seconds with bigger range of motion on left side
- Benefits: Adding weight to the leg for All Fours can help engage the glutes even more while keeping the lower back still for core strength.
- Sit down on your seat and lift your spine tall, holding weights straight out in front of chest, palms facing in. Keeping your heels gently on floor and spine long and still, turn your torso toward the left, pulling your left arm back like a bow. Return to center. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Do: 60 seconds
- Benefits: This is a core strengthening exercise. Lighter weights will help keep the shoulders aligned so the movement challenges the abs and core-stabilizing muscles in your back.
- Hold a high plank with shoulders over wrists with a weight in front of your right hand. Remember to breathe. Keeping your spine and hips still, lift your left hand and move the weight to the left. Pick up your right hand and move the weight to the right. Repeat.
- Do: 60 seconds
- Benefits: Moving the weight is a way to challenge and strengthen your core (hello obliques!). You are going to want to lean and twist to move the weight, so keeping the spine still and stable is key.