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the total dumbbell workout Trade secrets of a personal trainer

Steve Barrett

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contents Disclaimer and advisory

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1 the basics of exercising with dumbbells

The S.A.F.E. trainer system (Simple, Achievable, Functional, Exercise) How to use this book FAQs Find your starting point Assess, don’t guess Isolation vs integration Learn it, then work it First you need stability Add some strength Power beats size

6 10 15 19 21 28 31 33 36 37

2 the portfolio of moves

Which moves should I do? The classic moves The best of the best Dull, but dependable Trash! Don’t waste your time

39 45 72 107 114

3 training with dumbbells

How to use the dumbbell training sessions

And finally… Fitness glossary About the author Index

120 141 142 157 158

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the total dumbbell workout

exercise 1 bicep curl, under grip l

stability l strength l power l isolation a

b

l Stand with your feet together, i.e. as wide as your pelvis or you will hit the sides of your legs with the dumbbell. l With your palms facing forward and your upper arm hanging vertically*, lift the weight up until you have closed your elbow joint as far as it will go. l Then, lower the dumbbell back to the start position.

* Some personal trainers tell you to keep your elbows in, to encourage you to isolate the bicep muscle, but that’s not really how the body works. Personally, if a little bit of additional muscle is recruited in a move, I don’t mind – and it’s natural.

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tricks of the trade

What can you possibly do to a bicep curl to make it more interesting? With my clients, if their attention starts to wander I make them change their foot position every couple of reps, so they shift their weight from one foot to the other and stand in a slightly split stance (one foot forward). This has no adverse effect on the curl and is also beneficial for coordination.

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the portfolio of moves

exercise 2 bicep reverse curl, over grip l

stability l strength l power l isolation a

b

l Stand with your feet no wider than your pelvis and hold the dumbbell so that your knuckles are facing forward. l Keep the upper arms hanging vertically, then using your biceps lift the dumbbell up until you have closed the elbow joint completely. l Then, lower the weight back to the start position.

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tricks of the trade

There is a huge temptation to lean forward during this move. When my clients cheat in this way I make them touch their butt cheeks and shoulders against a wall (touching, not leaning), and then do the the curls – you simply can’t cheat.

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the total dumbbell workout

exercise 3 bicep curl 21s l

stability l strength l power l isolation a

b

c

These are deceptively hard! The aim is to perform the three sets of seven reps immediately after each other. Why do we do this? Mainly because the biceps are very resilient muscles that do not often have to function through their full range every time they are used, so this approach is very good at creating a reaction. l For the first seven reps, lift the dumbbell through the first half of your range of motion. l Follow with the second set of seven reps, where you should lift the weight from halfway to the end of your range of motion. l Finally, for the third set of seven reps lift the weight through the complete range of motion.

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tricks of the trade

Whatever weight my clients think they can lift during this move, it will usually be 25 per cent less in reality. A nice personal trainer will tell you this, a nasty one will let you suffer and potentially fail the set.

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head the portfoliosection of moves

exercise 4 overhead triceps press l

stability l strength l power l isolation a

b

This exercise is best done in front of a mirror so you can see where the dumbbell is. l Stand with your feet a little bit wider than pelvis width. l Lift the dumbbell above your head and hold the shaft with both hands. l Start at the top and lower the dumbbell behind your head, bending at the elbow. l As soon as it touches your body push it back up to the start position.

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tricks of the trade

The mirror is good because you should be able to look at yourself throughout the move. As a personal trainer, I act as the mirror and make my clients aware of when they are in the wrong position. The best solution is simply to stand in front of my clients, as this means they naturally keep their head up to maintain eye contact.

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the total dumbbell workout

exercise 5 single-arm triceps press l

stability l strength l power l integration a

b

This exercise is also best done in front of a mirror so you can see where the dumbbell is. If you start with your right arm, have your right foot slightly in front of the left. The nice thing about doing one arm at a time is that you will get some work out of the pecs as well because you naturally shift your weight forward as you drive the dumbbell into the air. l Hold the dumbbell in one hand and lift it above your head, with your arms fully extended. l Bend your arm at the elbow and lower the dumbbell. l Push it back up again using the triceps.

!

tricks of the trade

Shift your bodyweight around from foot to foot and also to the ball of the foot and heels – try it, you will find that you actually stay more focused on the arm movement than when you were standing still.

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the portfolio section of moves head

exercise 6 wrist curls, over grip l

strength l power l isolation l bench a

b

The muscles used in this movement tend to be weaker than the under grip version – if you look at your wrist this is understandable because you have more flesh on the underside than you do on the top. This exercise can also be performed standing or sitting on a bench. l Stand up and hold your wrist in a position that allows it to move like a hinge above your knee. l Keep your palms down and lower and lift the dumbbell.

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tricks of the trade

This is the weakest range of motion for most people, so leave this move until the very end of a workout otherwise your grip will be affected for the rest of the exercises.

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the total dumbbell workout

exercise 7 wrist curls, under grip l

strength l power l isolation a

b

l Stand with feet apart, elbows at right angles and palms up. l You need to remember that the range of motion here is determined by bones rather than flexibility, so don’t force the joint to go further than it wants to. l Relaxing the fingers at the end of the down phase will create work for the hand muscle as well as the wrist, but don’t relax the grip too much as you are likely to drop the weight.

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tricks of the trade

Despite the small amount of muscle bulk in the wrist area you will be surprised how much you can lift on this move. However, be sure to start light and progress slowly because the wrist is full of ligaments and tendons that take longer to condition than the blood-rich muscle tissue.

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the portfolio section of moves head

exercise 8 dead lift l

stability l strength l power l integration a

b

My mantra ‘learn it, then work it’ is key here, so practise this movement without any weights before you add extra load to your muscles and joints. l Stand with your feet as wide apart as your armpits. l Let the weights just hang in front of you then lower them towards the floor (that’s the easy part because gravity is in charge). l When your hamstrings reach the point that they want to stop you going any lower, stand up. l Watch the line that the dumbbells go through – they should be going straight down and straight up again, any swing forward or back suggests the weight is too light or that you have a tight spot somewhere in your hamstrings or glutes.

!

tricks of the trade

The smart people practise the dead lift without a weight so that they almost pre-programme the move into their muscles and brain. An excellent practice tool is a wooden pole, because if the pole hits your knees you are too stiff or unstable to do this move with heavy weights.

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the total dumbbell workout

exercise 9 deltoid raise front l

stability l strength l power l integration a

b

Just to clear one thing up here. When we work the deltoids we don’t isolate the anterior, middle or posterior section of the muscle. Each of the sections works all of the time, but depending upon the movement each section will take on variable amounts of the load. l Except for when using really heavy weights on this exercise, stand with you feet in whatever position is most comfortable, which means either with your feet hip width apart or in a split stance (one foot forward). If you are braving a very heavy dumbbell then a wide stance will be better. l Before you start the lift you must retract your scapular (in other words, pull your shoulders back) otherwise your deltoids (one of the shoulder muscles) can’t function as well as they should. l Lift the dumbbell up to chin height. Any higher and you will again be asking the slightly isolated anterior deltoid to move in a way that it isn’t designed to. I find that lifting slightly off centre is kinder on the shoulder joint than lifting straight up in front. l And please, lower the weight under control – the eccentric phase is more than half the reason for doing this move.

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the portfolio section of moves head

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tricks of the trade This exercise needs to flow. In the past you would have been coached to keep the rest of the body very still as you lifted the weight up, but I encourage my clients to think about and feel the muscle activity that is occurring through the upper back and all the way down to the buttocks.

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disclaimer and advisory

Before attempting any form of exercise, especially that which involves lifting weights, always ensure you have a safe working environment. Ensure that the floor surface you are on is non-slip and do not stand on any rugs or mats that could move when you exercise. Also, clear your exercise space of items that could cause you harm if you collided with them; this includes furniture, pets and children. Pay particular attention to the amount of clearance you have above your head and remember that for some of the exercise moves you will be raising your hands and the weights above head height, so keep away from doorways and light fittings. The information, workouts, health related information and activities described in this publication are practiced and developed by the author and should be used as an adjunct to your understanding of health and fitness and, in particular, strength training. While physical exercise is widely acknowledged as being beneficial to a participant’s health and well-being, the activities and methods outlined in this book may not be appropriate for everyone. It is fitness industry procedure to recommend all individuals, especially those suffering from disease or illness, to consult their doctor for advice on their suitability to follow specific types of activity. This advice also applies to any person who has experienced soft tissue or skeletal injuries in the past, those who have recently received any type of medical treatment or are taking medication and women who are, or think they may be, pregnant. The author has personally researched and tried all of the exercises, methods and advice given in this book, on himself and with many training clients. However, this does not mean these activities are universally appropriate and neither he nor the publishers are, therefore, liable or responsible for any injury, distress or harm that you consider may have resulted from following the information contained in this publication.

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Trade Secrets of a Personal Trainer

Packed with a wide range of tried and tested exercises


Note Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the content of this book is as technically accurate and as sound as possible, neither the author nor the publishers can accept responsibility for any injury or loss sustained as a result of the use of this material. Published by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 49–51 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3DP www.bloomsbury.com First edition 2011 Copyright © 2011 Steve Barrett ISBN 978 1 4081 4228 8 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means – graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or information storage and retrieval systems – without the prior permission in writing of the publishers. Steve Barrett has asserted his rights under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work. A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Acknowledgements Cover photographs © Grant Pritchard, central image © Shutterstock Inside photographs: All inside photographs © Grant Pritchard with the exception of the following: pp. 1, 5–7, 9, 11–2, 16, 20, 32, 38, 41, 55, 69, 71–2, 77, 93, 107, 109, 114, 120 © Shutterstock; pp. 14, 22, 27, 36, 103 courtesy and Copyright © of Escape Fitness Ltd. Illustrations by David Gardner Designed by James Watson Commissioned by Charlotte Croft Edited by Kate Wanwimolruk This book is produced using paper that is made from wood grown in managed, sustainable forests. It is natural, renewable and recyclable. The logging and manufacturing processes conform to the environmental regulations of the country of origin. Typeset in 10.25pt on 13.5pt URWGroteskLig by Margaret Brain, Wisbech Printed and bound in China by C & C Offset Printing

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The Total Dumbbell Workout  

Sample a few exercises from The Total Dumbbell Workout by Steve Barrett.

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