Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Dumbbells for Cardio? Absolutely!

July 12, 2022

Dumbbells have long been viewed as a tool for traditional body building style exercise for muscle growth and strength training. Most often they are used for isolated single joint upper body movements such as bicep curls and lateral raises. You will also see people using dumbbells to perform variations of an overhead press and a bench press also, but did you know they can be used as an exceptional tool for full body strength and conditioning?

Dumbbells are exceptionally versatile as exercise equipment. They allow unilateral loading and provide a stability stimulus at much higher demand than a barbell. Dumbbells also require less skill and practice than a barbell to safely and confidently perform compound, multi-joint, functional movements such as the clean, snatch, and overhead press. When we combine these types of movements into larger, more complex exercises, we are able to stress the body in many different essential movement patterns such as squatting, hip hinging, pushing, and pulling. Performing multiple repetitions of these movements will not only make you stronger and more robust, but it will absolutely get your heart rate elevated for cardiorespiratory conditioning!

Watch the video below for examples of a few different dumbbell exercises and ways to combine them into more complex movements:

Compound Dumbbell Exercises and Combination Movements


If you have any concerns about beginning an exercise program or are dealing with any aches and pains performing these movements, schedule an evaluation with one of our highly skilled Physical Therapists in Boulder or Lafayette, Colorado for a comprehensive screen of mobility and strength imbalances that may be impacting you. Our doctors of physical therapy a specialty trained in strength training and CrossFit to give you the treatment plan that best suites your goals.