I've been a runner for years. After five marathons and hundreds of miles, I was looking for a new challenge. It feels like yesterday that I walked into my CrossFit box for the first time, frightened by workouts involving heavy weights and a slew of movements I'd never attempting in my life. The reality? Hundreds of thrusters, squat cleans, and barbell-facing burpees later, I'm just one of many, many women who are picking up heavier weights and dismissing that "lifting heavy will make you bulk up" myth.
With good reason, too. In addition to making you feel like a total badass, lifting heavy can fight osteoporosis and torch calories. In fact, one study found that women burned nearly twice as many calories in the two hours after their workout when they lifted 85 percent of their max load for eight reps than when they did more reps (15) at a lower weight (45 percent of their max), as we reported in 8 Reasons Why You Should Lift Heavier Weights. So pick up those dumbbells and get to work.
How it works: Ready to get lifting? Snag yourself a 15- to 25-pound dumbbell and tackle this heavy dumbbell workout. Do all sets of each exercise before moving on to the next. Rest 30 seconds between sets.
Total Time: up to 15 minutes
1. Goblet Squat
Stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart. Cup one end of a dumbbell with both hands vertically in front of chest.
Keeping back straight, squat down until crease of hips drops below knees and tops of thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Extend hips and knees to return to starting position.
2. Dumbbell Row
Stand in a split stance with right foot forward, hold a dumbbell with left hand. Keeping abs tight and spine naturally straight, hinge forward from hips about 45 degrees, reaching left arm toward the floor and placing right hand on right knee to help maintain a neutral position.
Row left arm behind back, pulling weight to side of torso. Lower arm to starting position. Repeat on opposite side to complete set.
3. Weighted Sit-Up
Lie down with knees bent, holding a dumbbell with both hands in front of shoulders with arms bent. Press weight up straight over chest, straightening arms.
Engaging core, sit body up while keeping arms straight. Slowly lie down to return to starting position.
4. Overhead Press
Stand with feet hip-width part, holding dumbbell at chest height with both hands in front of shoulders with arms bent.
Exhale as you extend both arms overhead, pressing the weight upward. Inhale as you lower the weight, focusing on pulling elbow in toward body to help stabilize the shoulder.
5. Chest Press
Lie faceup on the floor with knees bent and feet flat, holding a dumbbell at chest.
Keeping lower back pressed into the floor and abs engaged, push the dumbbell up overhead. Lower back to chest and repeat. Continue at a quick pace until all reps are complete.
6. Wood Chop
Stand tall and hold a dumbbell with both hands at chest height. Twist torso as far as possible to the left, bringing the dumbbell up and above left shoulder.
Keeping chest up, bring the dumbbell down all the way across body in a "chopping" motion—go slow and exhale on the way down.