Get Strong Without Leaving Your Home – Dumbbells

Few people realize the versatility and the incredible number of exercises that you can perform only with a pair of adjustable dumbbells. There is a whole world of possibilities and undiscovered exercises that get fantastic results, and it can all be done without going to the gym.

 

Training the whole body just with dumbbells

It is possible to execute a complete workout just with dumbbells?

Absolutely, and you don’t even need that special bodybuilding bench! You can use a normal chair, sofa and can even perform some exercises on the floor with a towel.

Working out at Home

A pair of adjustable dumbbells requires very little space and this is very useful to have at home. Many people simply do not have time or money to go to the gym. Many don’t even have access to decent fairly priced gym.

In addition, even for member there are time we would like to train in the days and the gym is closed, or it’s the same time that every other member is there and you find yourself queueing for machines or a bench.

A small homemade gym can have many advantages in relation to commercial gyms:

-          Privacy

-          Can train any day of the week, including weekends.

-          Equipment always available anytime.

-          Saving money. You just have to acquire and pay for the equipment once (adjustable dumbbells, weights, and other equipment you wish) and don’t need to spend money on monthly memberships.

-          Time saver. Don’t waste time in travelling to the gym. Sometimes this even stops you from going.

Some Recommended Exercises

Shoulder:

-          Alternate Dumbbell Press

-          Alternate Front Rais

-          Bent Over Lateral Raise

Back:

-          One Arm Dumbbell Raise

-          Bent Over Row

-          Shoulder Shrug

Leg:

-          Squat

-          Lunge

-          Front Squat

Chest:

-          Incline Bench Press

-          Pull Over

-          Dumbbell Flyes

 

How to progress?

Make a sincere effort to perform all exercises slowly and in a controlled way, in order to make the most of your workouts.

Keep in mind that the best way to maximize the intensity of your workouts is to perform the exercises using a full range of motion with the correct technique, proper breathing (inhale when lowering the weight and exhale on the up) and a weight that allows the execution of exercises with the correct form.

In order to make progress, do your best to increase the number of repetitions that you perform week to week and try to increase the weight used in the exercises, but never to a point that prevents you from performing the exercise safely and with good form

Selecting The Right Dumbbells For You

We have spoken to a number of people who own a set of Dumbbells to find out the best value for overall quality among other benefits.

First of all you have the choice of the type of Dumbbell set you buy.

Normal Dumbbell sets have 2 Dumbbell bars and a range of various weights to place on Click to see pricing of this York Dumbbell setthe bars. The weights can be secured either by a spin lock that screws on to the bar or a quick release grip which makes it easier and quicker to change weights.

 

 

The second choice are fully adjustable Dumbbells that although are generally moreBruce Lee Adjustable dumbbells expensive, they offer the benefit of changing the weight without having to manually add and take off the weight plates. These are our favourite type and we would recommend adjustable Dumbbells if your budget allows for a good set.

 

The price of a basic set start at around £30 and some of the best adjustable sets are in excess of £400 (check out the Powerblock Flex Urethane U50 Powerblocks). Our advice is to consider the maximum weight that each Dumbbell can be adjusted to so that it can cater for your needs as you progress and get the best set you can afford. You do get what you pay for.

We have some recommendations divided into three price brackets. Click on each to read more details, see photos, get the current price and to read reviews from people who have already bought them on Amazon.

Budget – Under £50 – physionics® HSTA29 Dumbbell Weights Set 40kg

Intermediate – Under £100 – Vinyl EZ Curl Set 70Kg (Includes EZ Curl bar also for even more exercises)

Advanced – Under £200 -Orbus Adjustable Selective Dumbbells Set

Vinyl Complete Weight Set 100Kg (Includes EZ Curl Bar and 1.7 metre barbell bar)

Top End – Where price has no limit – Bodymax 2 x 32.5kg Selectabell Dumbbells

Conclusion

Dumbbells will help you to acquire strength and muscle mass in all the major muscle groups, simply with the use of your own pair of adjustable dumbbells.

 

Get Strong!

Burn Fat & Build Muscle

If you are planning to join the Army you probably want to get into the best possible shape as quickly as you can. For many this may include needing to lose your beer belly, bingo wings or stop your thighs from rubbing together when you walk.

The one thing you don’t want to do though is to lose weight and be left with nothing but a weak and frail bag of bones. I have found the solution to losing the fat you want to get rid of while at the same time building a strong and sturdy muscular frame.

Last year I took part in a 98 day challenge to follow an eating plan and fitness workout called Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle

I was extremely happy with the results. I managed to get my body fat percentage down to 12% which is the lowest it had been since I was 15 years old. The eating plan is simple and isn’t one of these horrible calorie depriving diets either. In fact in order to follow the challenge properly I needed to start eating more so that my efforts in the Gym were rewarded.

The strength training plan was easy to follow but challenging and focused on lifting heavy weights to build strength fast and burn maximum calories.

The book Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle is written by an American Body Builder called Tom Venuto. He is well respected and isn’t promoting any brand or products so the information he gives is unbiased and accurate.

I really encourage anyone who wants a plan to lose weight, build muscle and get into good shape quickly to check his book out. I have read it cover to cover (over 300 pages of information broken down into easy to understand sections) and haven’t found a better resource anywhere.

Don’t be put off by the fact its written by an American either… It´s not all fist pumping and high fiving like some stuff you get from the USA. I recommend it to anyone. Take a look here at the information: Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle

Please be aware that if you decide to buy the book I will receive a small commission for referring you to the website. I tell you this because I don´t want you to think I am trying to trick you into anything when I am not. I 100% believe in this product because I have used it myself and know it works well.

100 Press Up Challenge

The Press Up targets the chest, shoulders and arms and is a fantastic bodyweight exercise that can be performed anywhere with no equipment. The British Army and many other military establishments make their soldiers complete many sets of press ups to maintain peak physical condition.

During British Army Officer Selection tests you will be required to complete as many Press ups as possible in a 2 minute time limit. The pass rate is follows:

Men – 44

Women – 21

Whether you are here because you are planning to join the Army or just want to improve your strength and fitness, we would like to share a great resource and website called One Hundred Pushups.

Ok, so you might have already guessed that by calling it a “push up”, it´s an American site – however there is a fantastic 6 week training program that will enable you to complete 100 Press ups, no matter what level you start at.

There is also an Iphone App and book available that offers the complete training program with useful advice, knowledge and strategy to achieve your goal.

Here at Army Fitness Test, we don´t usually promote or link to other sites but this time we truly believe that this is a great resource and should not be missed.

Get the full App now by following this link!

We have seen many various training plans and challenges but think that the structure and simplicity of this makes it one of the best available. You can start from any level and ability and move through the planned schedule, progressing when you are ready right up until you reach the ultimate goal.

One Hundred Push ups

Here you can see an example of the first week of training. Each session is split into three groups depending on your initial assessment and ability. The App and book provide complete instructions and tell you your target number of press ups for each set.

The book is available here:

We really hope you like this challenge and would like to hear your thoughts below. Let us know if you have already tried this challenge and if you managed 100 Press-ups!

 

 

Skipping – Not just for girls in the Playground

Skipping is often overlooked, yet provides one of the easiest and most effective cardio workouts possible. Used by boxers, endurance athletes and many tennis stars, “jumping rope” is a great way to improve your stamina and endurance.

Read our guide on how to get the most from this challenging exercise.

So – just how effective is skipping?

  •  10 Minutes of Skipping is the equivalent to running a mile in 8 minutes
  •  You can burn up to 700 calories an hour
  • Skipping is less likely to cause injury than running as the impact is absorbed by both legs and you are landing on the balls of your feet, not your heels.
  • Strengthens arms and shoulders

You can use a rope as part of a gym session, or as a complete routine outside or at home. There are different types of ropes available to buy, normal, speed and weighted, each offering a more intense workout than the previous. The speed and weighted ropes are designed to work the shoulders and upper arms harder to improve muscle development. See our recommendations below.

Having a rope at home is much more likely to motivate you to work out. On days when you don´t make it to the gym, you have a fully accessible workout within reach. Try our workout routine and start to understand why Muhammad Ali was able to float like a butterfly but sting like a bee.

Techniques:

1. Bounce Step

- Keep your elbows tucked in with your hands 25cm to 30cm from your body, just below your waist. Keep your feet together and jump as the rope passes eye level.

Top Tip: “Keep a slight bend in your knees and land on the balls of your feet”

Best for: Burning fat

2. The Ski

- Imagine each foot is crossing a line with each hop. Stay on the same spot but alternate your feet so with each jump the other foot is in front.

Top Tip: “Keep your upper body straight and feet pointing forwards”

Best For: Obliques, inner thighs and glutes.

3. Knees Up

- Start with a bounce step to gain a rhythm. Then as the rope comes around, lift one knee and bounce on one foot,then repeat with the other.

Top Tip: “Raise your knee as close to your chest as possible, holding it up for one hop to really work your abs”

Best For: Balance and explosive power.

4. The Cross

- Do the bounce. And as the rope passes your face, cross your arms and jump through the loop. Then straighten your arms quickly before the rope comes back over your head

Top Tip: Be decisive in your movement and cross your arms as wide as possible to begin. As you improve you can narrow the loop to jump through so that the move is more fluid.

Best For: Shoulders and biceps.

5. Double spin

- Do three bounce jumps, and bend both knees lift them up as far as you can on the
fourth. At the same time spin the rope twice before landing your feet

Top Tip: Increase the speed on the fourth jump to achieve the double. Lift knees as high as possible.

Best For: Abs and hamstrings.

First you will need to buy a rope – We recommend the following for value and quality – Click the link below now to see it this floor slapping spinner:

To begin, we recommend you practice each of the techniques until you are comfortable and can perform each without tripping over or hitting the back of your head with the rope.

A simple workout could consist of the following:

  • Complete 3 x 3 minutes rounds with a 1 minute rest in between each round.
  • Each session begin with a different technique so that you start each one on fresh legs regularly.

Or for a serious and more complete workout that includes a range of simple but extremely effective exercises, Click here to see our Full Rope Workout

Full Rope Workout – For Home or Gym

When you think of Skipping, try to forget memories of 8 year old girls in your class chanting songs while in the playground jumping with a rope. Think of tough, hard, fierce men who are strong, agile, fast and mean. Skipping is not just for girls.

Boxers use a rope for many exercises to improve strength, cardio, endurance and coordination. It is an easy way to quickly increase your level of fitness and can be used at the gym, in the garden, at home and anywhere else you can think of. If you are still thinking of the 8 year old girls in the playground or have never used a rope, Check out our beginners introduction guide here.

Army Fitness Test have reviewed and used many different ropes and recommend the Authentic RDX Professional Ultra 200 RPM Speed Rope - Check it out here:

 Full Workout using a rope

This workout is intended for all levels of fitness and can be tweaked and made more difficult as you progress and become fitter. Start at the beginning and try to complete the whole session. Take a 1 minute rest if necessary between any exercise but aim to complete the full workout with as few as you can manage.

This workout uses four simple exercises and a rope. As your fitness level rises, increase each rope stage to four minutes, and then 5 when you feel you can still complete the whole workout.

1. 3 minutes jump rope
Keeping your feet together and your legs straight, jump with both legs at the same time.

2. Stretch lightly

3. 15 regular push-ups
Start in push-up position with your feet together and your hands shoulder-width apart on the ground. Keeping your body straight, lower yourself until your nose almost touches the ground, then push back up until your arms are fully extended.

4.  3 minutes jump rope
Once again, keep your feet together and jump with both legs at the same time.

5. 10 regular push-ups
Start in push-up position with your feet together and your hands shoulder-width apart on the ground. Keeping your body straight, lower yourself until your nose almost touches the ground, then push back up until your arms are fully extended.

6. 10 dips
Sit down on a chair or bench and cup your hands on the edge on either side of your thighs. Walk your legs out until you’re no longer sitting and are supporting yourself on your hands. Using your arms, lower yourself in front of the chair or bench, then push back up until your arms are fully extended.

7. 3 minutes jump rope
This time, bounce from one foot to the other, either jumping on each foot just once before alternating, or changing foot every two or three jumps.

8. 15 full sit-ups
Laying on your back with your feet on the ground and your arms crossed over your chest, sit all the way up until your elbows touch your knees. Lower yourself back until your shoulder blades touch the ground, then repeat.

9. 3 minutes jump rope
Bounce from one foot to the other, either jumping on each foot just once before alternating, or changing foot every two or three jumps.

10. 5 push-ups, 5 dips, 5 sit-ups
Use same form as above.

11. 3 minutes jump rope
This time, do “high knees,” alternating feet and bringing your knees up until your thighs are parallel with the ground on each jump.

12. 60 seconds push-ups
You’re going to be a little winded by now, but do regular push-ups with the same form as above for a full minute. The goal is to try to get 60.

13. 3 minutes jump rope
Do “high knees,” alternating feet and bringing your knees up until your thighs are parallel with the ground on each jump.

14. 60 seconds leg lifts
Lay on your back and make a diamond with your hands under your tailbone for support. Keeping your legs straight, raise them until they are perpendicular to the ground. Still keeping them straight, lower them until your heels lightly touch the ground. Do this as many times as you can in a minute.

15. 3 minutes jump rope
This time, run in place as you skip the rope.

16. 60 seconds dips
Using the same form as above, do as many dips as you can in a minute.

17. 3 minutes jump rope
This time side-to-side again, bouncing from one foot to the other, either jumping on each foot just once before alternating, or changing foot every two or three jumps.

18. 60 seconds decline push-ups
Start in push-up position with your feet together up on a chair, bed, or couch, and your hands shoulder-width apart on the ground. Keeping your body straight, lower yourself with your arms until your nose is almost to the ground, then push back up until your arms are fully extended. Do as many as you can in a minute.

19. 3 minutes jump rope
Keeping your feet together and your legs straight, jump with both legs at the same time.

20. 60 seconds leg lifts
Lay on your back and make a diamond with your hands under your tailbone for support. Keeping your legs straight, raise them until they are perpendicular to the ground. Still keeping them straight, lower them until your heels lightly touch the ground. Do this as many times as you can in a minute.

21. 3 minutes jump rope
This time, bounce on one foot for a full minute and a half, then switch to the other foot for a minute and a half.

22. 60 seconds double crunch
Lay flat on your back with your arms back behind your head, feet on the ground, and knees bent. Bring your knees to your chest while doing a crunch at the same time. Do as many as you can in a minute.

23. 30 seconds jump rope
Do “high knees,” alternating feet and bringing your knees up until your thighs are parallel with the ground on each jump.

24. 30 seconds jump rope
This time side-to-side again, bouncing from one foot to the other, either jumping on each foot just once before alternating, or changing foot every two or three jumps.

25. 30 seconds jump rope
Keeping your feet together and your legs straight, jump with both legs at the same time.

26. 60 seconds jump rope
Do “high knees,” alternating feet and bringing your knees up until your thighs are parallel with the ground on each jump.

27. 60 seconds jump rope
This time side-to-side again, bouncing from one foot to the other, either jumping on each foot just once before alternating, or changing foot every two or three jumps.

28. 60 seconds jump rope
Keeping your feet together and your legs straight, jump with both legs at the same time.

29. 5 regular push-ups
Start in push-up position with your feet together and your hands shoulder-width apart on the ground. Keeping your body straight, lower yourself until your nose almost touches the ground, then push back up until your arms are fully extended.

30. 5 decline push-ups
Start in push-up position with your feet together up on a chair, bed, or couch, and your hands shoulder-width apart on the ground. Keeping your body straight, lower yourself with your arms until your nose is almost to the ground, then push back up until your arms are fully extended.

 

Were you able to complete the full workout? We would like to hear your thoughts and feedback!

 

Full Body Workout – Build Strength Fast

If you are new to lifting weights and want a workout that is simple to follow and won´t leave you gazing around the gym wondering what you are supposed to be doing next, then this is the workout for you.

This workout is designed to build core strength (perfect for those Army exercises) and make you stronger all round. It will also help to prepare your legs for running as it has exercises that directly targets your calf’s and quads.

Another great thing about this particular workout is that you only have two workouts to perform and rotate them each time you visit the gym, hence the name One/Two workout. Simple doesn´t mean easy though!

The One/Two Full Body Workout

  • Level – Beginners – Intermediates
  • Focus – Core Strength and muscle gain
  • Days Per Week – 3 (Mon, Wed, Fri). You will rotate between 2 workouts. Week 1 is 1/2/1, and week 2 is 2/1/2.
Workout One
Workout One
Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 4 8-10
Bench Press 4 8-10
Barbell Row 4 8-10
Military Press 4 8-10
Seated Calf Raise 2 10-20
Weighted Sit Up 2 10-20
Workout Two
Workout Two
Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift 2 10-15
Leg Press 2 12-15
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 4 8-10
Dumbbell Shrug 4 8-10
Barbell Curls 4 8-10
Standing Calf Raise 2 10-20
Hanging Knee Raise 2 10-25

Tips:

  • Constantly push for more. Once you are able to complete 10 reps per set for any exercise, increase the weight.
  • Rest. Rest approximately 2 minutes between sets. Allow more time if needed on Squats and Deadlifts to enable you to lift more
  • Warm up properly. Although this workout does not contain warm up Sets, avoid injury by completing a 10 minute complete warm up and stretch routine

 

Have you tried this workout? We would really like to hear about your thoughts and progression.

Recommended Exercises From The British Army

The British Army offer guidance on which Exercises will be of the most benefit in preparing for your ADSC (Army Development and Selection Centre) or AOSB (Army Officer Selection Board)

The exercises are basic and can be performed anywhere. Try each of them and record your best efforts with an aim to improve each week. This way your strength and stamina will develop quickly.

The Exercises

Upper Body

  • Press-Ups
  • Triceps Dip
  • Chin-Ups

Core Strength

  • Sit-Ups
  • Dorsal Raises

Lower Body

  • Squats
  • Heel Raises
  • Lunge

There are many variations of the above exercises and if you perform these in the gym you can easily add weight to Chin-Ups, Squats and Lunges.

 

Remember to warm up before beginning any workout and to warm down properly at the end to avoid injury.

 

 

 

 

 

Benefits and Rules of a Full Body Workout

In the Army, you will need to have a combination of speed and strength. Having the balance between the two is important. If you are built like a brick shed it is likely you will be slow. However, If you have the frame of a long distance runner it is likely you will have great cardio fitness but will lack overall body strength.

If you train in a way that focuses on developing muscles throughout your whole body as well as cardio, you will improve at balanced levels. Unless you are a body builder, full body workouts are a fantastic way to build muscle and improve fitness. They also improve your cardiovascular fitness and require less time to complete.

Main Rules for a Full Body Workout:

  • Train every 2-3 days - Your body needs time to recover after a heavy workout (at least 24 hours as a minimum) but keeping a regular routine is important in order to see consistent improvement.

 

  • Lift Heavy – To maximise the effect of each workout it is important to push your body to the limit when lifting weights. This means that for each exercise, use a weight that will push you to failure or near failure with each set. You will make optimal progress by doing this.

 

  • One hour or less - If you follow the advice of lifting heavy weights, staying in the gym too long can actually have a hindering effect on muscle growth. Intense workouts with lots of compound exercises will increase testosterone production which aids muscle growth. However as you lift, and even more so if you workout too long, a hormone called cortisol is also produced which has a catabolic effect of your muscles.

 

  • One exercise per muscle group – Follow the other steps in this guide and by using basic, heavy exercises you will find that one is enough for each muscle group. For example, do bench press OR incline bench press with the most weight you can manage for one set, but not both. Maximise the effect of this by using a different exercise each workout.

 

  • Change the order of your workout – Rotate the order of exercises so that you start on a different body part first each session. Start with chest one day, back on the next workout and then legs on the third workout. This ensures your whole body gets the maximum attention and you will progress evenly.

 

  • Post-workout Protein – Drink a protein shake or eat a meal high in protein immediately after you complete you workout. This is important for your muscles to develop and to aid recovery.

Ten tips for fast improvement

Here are ten quick and simple tips to help improve your level of fitness. Apply them to your current fitness plan or to one of our great workouts here on the Army Fitness Test website.

 

Start an Uphill battle

Don´t stick to running on a flat road or treadmill, include hills and inclines to increase the amount of calories you burn Your heart will work harder which will lead to it becoming stronger. This will also a great way to increase leg strength.

 

Train with purpose

Get one of the many available apps for tracking workouts, weights lifted and calories burned. To improve it is essential to know how good you were the session before. Set goals and targets to smash.

 

Turn it up a notch

Circuit training is fast, intense and hard. It gets quick results and is perfect for days when you have less time but still want a good full body workout. Pick between 6-8 exercises with a mixture of cardio and resistance training and work through each one with no rests in between. At the end of the circuit give yourself a few minutes rest, then start again.

 

Get some fresh air

The gym can get boring. Fact. When possible, take on new challenges and add variety to your fitness regime. Get off the smooth roads and try offroad mountain biking or trail running. This will call upon your stabilizer muscles to improve balance and all round endurance.

 

Hard and Fast, soft and slow

Interval training is one of the key ways to improve your fitness in the shortest amount of time. Combine high intensity activity with equal amounts of recovery and alternate between the two. If on the street, use lampposts as markers and sprint between two, and then walk between the next two. Repeat until your body is screaming for a rest.

 

Put the Kettle(bells) on

Kettlebell training is a great way to improve cardio and build strength. One Kettlebell session a week will improve lung capacity and increase your maximum heart rate.

 

On time, Every time.

Consistency is the best way to get solid results and by getting into a routine you reach your goals quicker. Your body is able to adapt to the times that you train so even if getting up 1 hour early every morning is difficult to begin, it will get easier quickly.

 

Fist Pump

If you are using treadmills or steppers, don´t use the handrail. Pump your arms in rhythm to your leg movements to increase the effectiveness of the workout.

 

Make your ears bleed (not literally)

Listening to music that motivates you will help to improve your workout and also make it more enjoyable. Stick the Rocky soundtrack on your Ipod and visualize you goals.

 

Get a friend

Knowing that someone else is waiting for you at the gym makes it much harder to skip sessions and will also make your training more fun. Challenge each other to see who can meet their individual goals faster.

60 Minute Killer Gym Circuit

60 Minute Killer Gym Circuit –

If you want to increase both strength and aerobic fitness, we challenge you to take on this monster circuit. Complete as many of the exercises as you can in one hour. Depending on your current fitness level or If you have less time, you can adjust the number of reps as necessary (e.g. – If you only have 30 minutes, reduce the reps by half)

If you are unsure how to perform any of the exercises, click on them to see an instructional video.

Each session aim to progress further or complete the circuit in less time. Record your results, Track your progress, Become a machine. 

Bench dips – 100 reps
Dumbbell press-up rows (5-10kg) – 50 reps
Body weight squats – 100 reps
Barbell curl and press (20kg) – 50 reps
Side plank – 3 minutes each side
Sit-ups – 100 reps
Lunges – 50 reps each leg
Plate row (10-20kg) – 100 reps
Leg lowers – 100 reps
Row – 4 x 500m – best effort
Treadmill – 2 x 800m best effort
Cycle – 2 x 2km – best effort

Mini Barbell Circuit – complete two circuits. Do each exercise for 30 seconds and move on, so 4 minutes in total. No Rest.
Barbell curls (10kg) – 30 seconds
Barbell shoulder press (10kg) – 30 seconds
Barbell upright rows (10kg) – 30 seconds
Barbell bent over row (10kg) – 30 seconds

Mini Floor Circuit – 10 press-ups followed by 20 burpees – Repeat 3 times without a rest.
Press-ups – 10
Burpees – 20

Have you tried this circuit? How did you get on? Tell us below.