Every woman’s at-home weight workout
The benefits of working with challenging weights are immense: you’ll shape and firm your body, and speed up your metabolism, so you burn extra calories long after your workout is over.
You don’t need fancy equipment or even a gym membership, you can get a fantastic fat-torching workout at home with just a pair of dumbbells. I’ve created this circuit to fire up multiple muscles – more muscles working together means more fat burning, greater cardiovascular benefits, and better body-sculpting bang for your buck.
Use weights you can complete 10-15 reps of the following exercises with. If you can do 10 reps while maintaining good technique, but lose it somewhere between 11 and 15 reps, you’re using the right weight to get full benefits. If you can do 15 reps with good form, it’s probably time to pick up a heavier weight.
Your aim is for this to be challenging, not easy, as that’s what’s needed for the body to respond by changing shape and burning lots of fuel in the process. Do the circuit twice when you first start, and aim for three times as you get stronger. You can use kettlebells, but you may need to adjust hand positions.
Forward lunge and curl
How to do it: Hold dumbbells, palms facing forwards, stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Step right leg forward, descend with straight spine till rear knee almost touches the floor. Keep right knee above foot. At same time, bend elbows to bring dumbbells close to body, palms facing up. Push off right foot to stand; slowly lower dumbbells to sides.
Beginner? Lose the dumbbells; hold on to something for balance.
Target areas: Legs, bum and upper arms.
Why it works: Strengthens biceps, quads, glutes and hamstrings at the same time as burning lots of calories.
Squat and press
How to do it: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold dumbbells at shoulder level, palms facing forward. Keep body tall, eyes forward. Slowly descend by pressing hips out as if sitting on a chair (avoid pushing knees forward). Go as far you can without the knees coming in. Extend knees and hips to stand, then press dumbbells up.
Beginner? Just do the squat action (no dumbbells).
Target areas: Legs, bum and shoulders.
Why it works: Burns fat, shapes thighs, lifts bum, sculpts shoulders.
Plank dumbbell row
How to do it: Place a dumbbell on the floor. Get into ‘plank’ position with your weight distributed between palms, placed under your shoulders, and balls of feet. Hold dumbbell in one hand and, maintaining straight line from neck to heels, row upwards; keep elbow close to body. Do your reps and repeat on the other side.
Beginner? Do the action without a weight, or hold plank position for 30 seconds, take a short break, then hold for another 30 seconds.
Target areas: Abs, core, back of the upper arms.
Why it works: Great for the abs, and also blasts upper arms.
Bent over reverse flyes
How to do it: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold dumbbells, palms facing each other, bend knees slightly. Keep back very straight, hinge forward from hips, so torso is almost parallel to floor. Let dumbbells hang from shoulders. Slightly bend arms and raise to shoulder level. Keep rest of body still. Slowly return arms to start.
Beginner? Practise without weights.
Target areas: Upper back and core.
Why it works: Sculpts the upper back and builds core strength.
How to do it: To start, hold one dumbbell with two hands over your right shoulder, standing with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width, knees bent. Swing dumbbell towards the outside of the left hip, moving across and down in front of body in a chopping motion. Swing back up to the starting position and repeat.
Beginner? Practise with hands clasped together.
Target areas: Abs and shoulders.
Why it works: Builds a strong core by using abdominal and oblique muscles to do the move and stabilise body. Great calorie burner.
Julia Buckley is one of the UK’s top trainers and author of best-seller, The Fat Burn Revolution (Bloomsbury, £16.99). Thousands of people have transformed their bodies with her free online gym.