Stay strong with these 6 free weights exercises for beginners

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Looking for weight-led exercises that have a lot of amazing benefits? Get started with these six free-weight exercises to feel stronger. 

Weight-led exercising can often feel like a pretty scary concept for those of us who have never tried it before. Once upon a time, it was a type of workout avoided by female fitness enthusiasts because of the common misconception that the only outcome of using weights is to become ‘bulky’ or ‘manly,’ and even now, the weights room at the gym can seem a rather intimidating place for someone who hasn’t done any weight training before. 

But building muscle and taking on weights training is not something to be feared – in fact, it’s something we should all be embracing. It raises your metabolic rate, which means the effect of your workout will last much longer after you’ve finished training, and is said to improve our cardiovascular health, too. It can also increase your bone density (something which is more important for women than for men, as we tend to lose bone density as we become older and go through the menopause).

There’s also the simple fact that weight training builds strength, which is a crucial part of having a healthy, happy body that will set us in good stead for many years to come.

And if all that doesn’t sound good enough, it’s widely believed by many experts to be an enormous self-esteem booster, too. 

With all this in mind, Stylist decided to launch Stylist Strong – a boutique fitness space, offering smart, class-based strength-training workouts – earlier this year at the AllBright Mayfair in London. 

Aimed at busy women who are interested in building their physical and mental strength, the studio hosts classes, events, talks and panel discussions on fitness and strength-training. And the studio’s tailored programme – created by Nike Global Master Trainer Joslyn Thompson Rule – has been carefully designed to encourage and inspire women of all physical strengths.

“I spend a lot of my time educating women on the importance of strength training for every aspect of their lives,” says Thompson-Rule. “But the educational piece can still be limited in terms of delivery and there is still a little stigma around lifting weights.”

Stylist Strong classes offer women a way to assess their progress over each eight-week cycle, thanks to a ‘movement mastery’ piece in the everyday programme (the first cycle focuses on the push up, the second on the squat, and so on). For those of us who prefer to workout at home, though, how do we start building up our strength? And, more importantly, which strength-training exercises do we need to work on perfecting?

As we’ve mentioned many times before, weight training is an easy and effective way to build up fitness levels and boost strength. So, if you’ve previously been a cardio-only exerciser, this might be the ideal way to shake up your at-home training regime.

To ensure you do so safely, however, we’ve rounded up the best ways to ease yourself into it. And these free weight exercises are particularly great for women who want to start incorporating strength training into their exercise regimes…

Free weight exercises to do at home
Free weights exercises for women: these beginner level workouts will get you started on your strong journey from the comfort of your own home.

Goblet dumbbell squat

While many of the videos you might see on Instagram of fitness influencers will see them squatting with a heavy barbell, this can be a bit intimidating.

The goblet dumbbell squat is great because it’s super effective for toning your bum but just requires a single dumbbell, so not a huge commitment straight away.

What you need: One dumbbell 


  • Stand up straight with your legs shoulder width apart. 
  • Grasp one end of the dumbbell in your hands, holding it to your heart while the other weighted side hangs downwards. 
  • Bend down into a single squat, until your elbows touch your knees, keeping your back straight and sticking your bum outwards.
  • Rise back up into a standing position.
  • Repeat this in reps of 10

Dumbbell reverse lunge 

This one is killer for working a range of leg muscles. Essentially it’s like a normal lunge but instead of lunging forward, you lunge back instead. You will feel that the further back you take your leg the more it works the glutes and hamstrings, so you can make this harder for yourself as time goes on.

What you need: Two dumbbells 


  • Stand up straight with legs shoulder width apart holding a dumbell in each hand. 
  • Take one leg back to get into the lunge position (essentially kneeling in reverse) and then revert back to standing.
  • Do this 10 times for each leg.

Overhead dumbbell extension

This move will work the backs of both your arms at the same time, it can be difficult but stick with it.

What you need: One dumbbell 


  • Stand up straight with your legs shoulder width apart.
  • Grab a dumbbell and hold it behind your head, with both hands gripping onto the top part of the weight, elbows facing the ceiling. 
  • Lift the weight upwards to ceiling above your head, and the lower back down again behind your back.
  • Continue to do this in reps of 10. 

Bicep curl

You can do this move standing or seated, but any upper body weights workout done when seated isolates the muscles and works them harder. So when you start feeling a little more confident, trying sitting down on a hard, flat surface while you do it. 

What you need: Two dumbbells


  • Stand with your feet hip width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand with your elbows bent and close to your body, and your palms facing upward.
  • Without moving your upper arms, lower the dumbbells down towards your thighs, and then up towards your shoulders. 
  • Be careful that you’re not using the rest of your body to support the movement and just your bicep  muscles, continue to do this in reps of 10.

 Dumbell shoulder press

You will need to use a press bench for this exercise to ensure you have the correct back support.

What you need: Two dumbbells


  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand and sit on a press bench that has back support. 
  • Place the dumbbells on top of your thighs. 
  • Raise the dumbbells to shoulder height in unison, then upwards above your head and back down to shoulder height. Start slow with this one, trying reps of three first. 

Chest press

This move will work your shoulders and triceps. As it’s a bigger move you’ll be working more than one muscle as you do it. 

What you need: Two dumbbells 


  • Lie with your back on a hard surface, holding a dumbbell in each hand. 
  • Hold the weights in the air at the same time, with both elbows bent into right angles.
  • Lift the weights upwards, stretching your arms out straight.
  • Bring them back down to chest level in a slow controlled movement. 
  • Start with reps of five and built upwards from there.

Stylist Strong is a fitness brand specialising in strength training specifically tailored for women. Our classes are designed to build both physical and mental strength in a smart and informed way.

So, whether you’re a beginner or already have strength-training experience, Stylist Strong has a class to suit you. Come and try our strength-based classes at our own purpose-built studio at The AllBright Mayfair. 

Image: Getty 

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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