5 Exercises To Help You Get the Most Out of Your Really Light Weights

Photo: Stocksy/Lumina
Without access to gyms right now, you might be left with a collection of light weights at home. Light weights might not seem like they would give you as good of a workout as the heavier options at the gym, but don't be fooled. Exercises for light weights help you get the most bang for you buck when using hand weights under 10 pounds.

When you're working with lighter weights, the key is upping the reps. "There’s research that suggests you can build muscle just as well with light weights as with heavy weights. The key is lifting to failure in each set, or least very close to failure—the point at which you can’t lift the weight one more time," says Alex Hutchinson, PhD. "You don’t necessarily have to choose a really heavy weight to do that, which some people find intimidating. You can get pretty much the same effect by choosing a relatively light weight and lifting it more times."

Experts In This Article

If you already have light weights on hand, skip to the best exercises for light weights. If not, here are some options you can add to your home gym.

The best light weights to use during at-home workouts

1. Bala Bangles, $49

exercises for light weights
Photo: Bala Bangles

You can't go wrong with a pair of Bala Bangles, which strap securely on your wrists for ease of use during your workouts.

Shop now: Bala Bangles, $49

2. Pvolve 2-lb. Dumbell Set, $20

exercises for light weights
Photo: Pvolve

These no-slip dumbbells were designed to fit perfectly in the palm of your hand during a workout.

Shop now: Pvolve 2-lb. Dumbell Set, $20

3. Blogilates 3-lb. Dumbbell, $13

exercises for light weights
Photo: Blogilates

Cassey Ho's new Blogilates collection has hit Target, and these gold and pastel pink weights are a stunning addition to any home gym.

Shop now: Blogilates 3-lb. Dumbbell, $13

4. CAP Barbell 4-lb. Dumbbell, $12

Photo: CAP Barbell

These dumbbells have an iron core and neoprene coating for comfort.

Shop now: CAP Barbell 4-lb. Dumbbell, $12

5. FILA 5-lb. Neoprene Dumbbell, $13

Photo: FILA

If you want a little more weight, this 5-pound option will keep you feeling challenged.

Shop now: FILA 5-lb. Neoprene Dumbbell, $13

The best exercises for light weights

1. Dual-tricep kickback

This move targets your triceps, bringing the burn to the back of your arms.

How to do it:

  1. Stand hip-width apart, and stagger your stance so one foot is in front of the other. This prevents you from arching your low back.
  2. Puff your chest out, engage your abs, and lift your elbows so they're close to your ribs.
  3. Squeeze your tricep to extend at the elbow, then slowly come back in to bring your hand in line with your elbow.

2. Lateral raises

This easy-to-follow exercise makes your arms and abs burn. "The reason why you're in a half-kneeling position is because you want to eliminate the knee and ankle joints. That way, you can focus on the core," says trainer Charlee Atkins.

How to do it:

  1. Start in a half-kneeling position.
  2. Slowly lift the weights out to your sides, then lower.

3. Dumbbell donkey kicks

Adding a light dumbbell to your donkey kicks makes your glutes work even harder.

How to do it:

  1. Get into a tabletop position and place a dumbbell behind your knee.
  2. Hold it securely in place as you squeeze your glutes and lift your leg up and down. Be sure your foot is flexed.
  3. Repeat on the opposite side.

4. Full dumbbell row in high plank

This plank and row combo will leave you sweating, no matter the amount of weight you're using.

How to do it:

  1. Get into a high plank.
  2. Lift your right arm toward the ceiling, making sure your elbow comes through your body on the way up.
  3. Return to your high plank.
  4. Repeat on the opposite side, and continue alternating back and forth.

5. Chest fly and leg lower

This exercise that targets your back and core will most definitely result in all-over soreness.

How do do it:

  1. Lie on your back with your feet toward the ceiling and arms extended over your chest.
  2. Open up your arms to a chest fly with a slight bend in the elbow.
  3. Raise your arms back above the chest.
  4. Lower your legs down and back up.

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