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Dumbbell Exercises for Teenagers

by Nicole Crawford, studioD

If your teen is interested in weight training, dumbbell exercises are a fine place to start. Dumbbells come in a variety of sizes for all fitness levels and many exercises don't require extensive technical knowledge. With the right set of exercises, your teen can even get a total body workout with just one fitness tool.

Dumbbell Chest Press

Performing a chest press on a stability ball increases the challenge.

The dumbbell chest press improves stabilization and builds upper-body strength. To perform the exercise, your teen should lie on a bench or other stable surface, with feet planted on the ground. Begin with the dumbbells at chest height, elbows bent out to the sides, and then straighten the elbows while bringing the dumbbells together. Spot your teen's wrists during this movement, and lower the weight if she cannot press the dumbbells without bending her wrists.

One Arm Rows

Have your teen use a support surface if needed during one arm rows.

Unlike bicep curls or tricep extensions, one arm rows work all of the arm muscles in one simple movement. To perform one arm rows, have your teen stand in a lunge position with her right leg forward and her right arm resting on her right knee. The dumbbell should be in her left hand, which starts in an extending position. Spot her as she raises her left elbow straight up into the air, pulling the dumbbell straight upward. If you notice her twisting her upper body or straining her neck, lower the weight of the dumbbell. Repeat on the other side.

Overhead Press

The overhead press works the muscles in the back and shoulders.

The overhead press can be performed in a sitting or standing position. Your teen will start out with one dumbbell in each hand. Her arms are extended to each side and bent at the elbows, so the dumbbells are at head level. Cue your teen to inhale, then exhale as she raises the dumbbells overhead and locks out her elbows. Keep an eye on her back and head. If her head moves forward or if her back starts to arch, the weight might be too heavy.

A Note About Isolation Exercises

Some of the most well-known dumbbell exercises, such as tricep extensions and bicep curls, are intended to isolate one muscle group in order to build muscle in that particular area. Although these exercises aren't harmful, a teenage weightlifting program should focus on building total-body strength. Isolation exercises are a helpful supplement to other total-body exercises, but they shouldn't be the staple of your teen's lifting program. Throw in some bicep curls or tricep extensions at the end of a dumbbell workout.


  • NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training; Micheal A. Clark et al.

About the Author

Nicole Crawford is a NASM-certified personal trainer, doula and pre/post-natal fitness specialist. She is studying to be a nutrition coach and RYT 200 yoga teacher. Nicole contributes regularly at Breaking Muscle and has also written for "Paleo Magazine," The Bump and Fit Bottomed Mamas.

Photo Credits

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