Living With Type 2 Diabetes: 5 Ways to Make the Most of 5-lb. Hand Weights

Have you ever been on a trip away from home and only had access to one set of weights or minimal equipment? My clients have asked me to help them make the most out of what little they have to work with.  So I thought you might like the help too.

Let’s get something straight: The lower body contains the largest muscles and typically requires lifting the heaviest weight.  Next in size are the larger back muscles used for pulling things. The chest takes third place.  Last are the smallest muscles, such as your triceps and shoulders.  A weight-lifting program should be executed in the order of largest to smallest muscles.  The smaller muscles aid in the larger muscles’ movements and will tire too quickly if you work them by themselves first.

I hope that helps you to understand why it is not ideal to have one weight size to do a full body workout.  Instead of using lack of equipment as an excuse to skip your workout, use these exercises to get the best results:


1.   Wall Sit: Act as though you are sitting on a chair with your back resting against a wall.  Feet should be shoulder-width apart. Hold the weights down at your sides.  Arms straight.  Start with holding for 30 seconds.

2.   Glute Bridge: Lay on the floor with your knees bent, feet on the floor.  Place one weight between your legs at your knees and squeeze your legs together so the weight is still. Lift and lower your hips off the floor and back down while squeezing the weight.

3.   Kneeling Row:  Kneel on your hands and knees. Cross the weights on top of each other and grab them both with one hand. Pull the weights up until they reach your hip and then release them back to the floor slowly. Switch arms after each set of 10-15 repetitions.

4.   Side Arm Raises: Place the weights in each hand. Stand upright and slowly lift the weights with your palms down until they are parallel to the floor, then lower them down.

5.   Dead Bug: Lay on your back with one weight between both hands. Lift your feet up so your knees are in a 90-degree bend. Keep your legs still and simply move your arms over your head about an inch from the floor and bring them back up toward the sky. Continue the movement 10-15 times.


1.   Lunge and Side Raise: Start by kneeling on the floor. As you straighten your legs lift your arms out to your sides until they are parallel to the floor. Then come back down and repeat 15 times.

2.   Single Leg Dead Lift with Bicep Curl: Stand on one leg. Tip forward holding both weights. Maintain proper posture as you tip. Once your arms reach the middle of your calves, straighten back up. Once upright, add a bicep curl.

3.   Reverse Fly: Stand on both legs. Tip forward with proper posture. Knees should be slightly bent. Turn your palms to face forward. Then lift your arms directly out to the side while you are still folded forward. Maintain a flat back during and after the arm raise.

4.   Rowing Plank: Place one weight in one hand. Get in a push-up position, feet a little wider than your hands. While you maintain a nice flat line with your body, pull the weight back until your arm bends about 90 degrees and the weight reaches your hip. Then slowly place it back down on the floor. Take a breath and repeat. Try 5 on each side to start. If you can hold your body still the entire set and only move your arm, then move to 10-15 reps per set.

5.   Dead Bug: (same dead bug as the beginner, only hold one weight in each hand instead of one weight between both hands)

These few exercises should get you a great mini workout with little equipment.  If you are more advanced, you really need to consider trying a different workout altogether.  Considering you’ll need a bit heavier weight to perform a weight-training workout, try some cardio/speed intervals instead.

If you ever need any clarification on my descriptions please contact me at and I will give you more specific details.  As always, consult your physician for clearance before starting any new exercises. Enjoy your workout and your summer!

(Fitness instructor Kiley Schoenfelder was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 8. She operates her own independent fitness company, K FIT NYC. Kiley holds two certificates from the National Academy of Sports Medicine: Corrective Exercise Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer.) 




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