This full-body dumbbell workout is an effective option for building muscle at home…
The past few years have taught us you don’t need a ton of equipment to get – or stay – in shape. Sure, variety can make working out more interesting, and being able to cycle between a range of weights and stations requires less imagination. But if you’ve got just one pair of dumbbells at your disposal, you’re actually fairly well set. Enter: the best full-body dumbbell workout.
This workout has been designed by personal trainer Mikey Smith, who has over 20 years of experience in the fitness industry.
How to do this workout:
To get the most out of this full-body dumbbell workout, start with the warm-up to prime your muscles and joints.
For the main workout block, progress through the following eight-week workout plan. Complete the stated number of reps and sets for each exercise based on your fitness level.
- Beginners: start with 2 sets of 8 reps of each movement
- Advanced: start with 3 sets of 8 reps
- Beginners: 2 sets of 10 reps
- Advanced: 3 sets of 10 reps
- Beginners: 2 sets of 12 reps
- Advanced: 3 sets of 12 reps
- Beginners: 3 sets of 12 reps
- Advanced: 4 sets of 12 reps
Rest periods: Your rest periods should be less than 60 secs between each exercise and 90 secs at the end of each giant set (the blocks of three exercises).
Once you’re confident with the series of exercises and looking to develop, try increasing the number of sets or reps. Or if you’re in a gym, you can also increase the dumbbell weight.
Full-body dumbbell workout
- V-stance T-spine rotation x 5 each side
- Floor slider x 5
- 90/90 hip opener x 5 e/s
- World’s greatest stretch x 5 e/s
- Lateral bound x 5 e/s
Keep reading for full instructions.
If you need a new set of dumbbells, our testers recommend the Jordan Fitness Premium Urethane Dumbbells. These floor-friendly sets are available in a range of different weights, making them suitable for both beginners and practiced pros.
BUY IT NOW:
$51.23-$3,951.99 / £42-£3,240 / jordanfitness.com
The following ‘primers’ are designed to warm your body up before you dive into the main session.
- Stand tall and upright with your legs stretched apart from each other at a comfortable distance.
- Now, bend towards the floor at a 90-degree angle and stretch your left arm to the ground, using a block if helpful.
- Then, slowly rotate your body, keeping your feet firmly on the ground and twist to the right, extending your right arm into the air.
- Hold this position for 2-3 seconds then slowly bring your right arm down.
- Repeat with your left arm.
- Firstly, sit against a wall with your back straight and legs straight in front of you (this can also be conducted on the floor).
- Position your arms at 90-degree angle against the wall.
- Now, slowly move your arms from 90 degrees to straight, above your head.
- Then, return your arms to 90 degrees.
These floor-based exercises are best performed on an exercise mat. Our testers recommend the strong and sturdy Sundried Jute Yoga Mat, which features a handy non-slip top layer made from eco-friendly Jute material.
BUY IT NOW:
$33 / £27, sundried.com
- Sitting on the floor, bend your left leg in a 90-degree angle in front of you with your hip slightly rotated out.
- Place your right leg in a 90-degree angle to the side of your body, hip rotated inward.
- Next, keeping your spine straight, slowly tip forward over your left leg, as far as it feels comfortable, being careful not to bend your spine.
- Swap legs and repeat.
- Starting in a high plank position, bring your right leg to the outside of your right hand.
- Then, place your weight through your left hand and rotate towards the right side. Now, stay in this pose for 2-3 seconds.
- Return your right leg and repeat on your left side.
- Firstly, stand tall with knees slightly bent and arms at 90 degrees into your chest.
- Next, lift your left leg slightly off the floor and jump to the side horizontally (as far as comfortable), using your right leg to jump off and stretching your arms as you jump.
- As soon as you land on your left foot with your arms back to your chest, stabilise and stick in the landing position for 2 seconds. Now, repeat on the other side, using your left leg to jump off this time.
After completing the warm-up section, move on to the main full-body dumbbell workout. Keep reading for full exercise instructions.
Muscles targeted: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes
- Begin by holding a dumbbell in the goblet position (held up against the chest), feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out slightly.
- Bend your knees to lower under control and tap the depth marker (box). Then, stand back up to the start position. Be sure to also keep your chest up and knees out.
- Repeat for desired number of repetitions.
Muscles targeted: shoulders, triceps
- Begin in a half kneeling position with a dumbbell in each hand.
- Now, press one arm overhead and return to start position while maintaining a stable posture.
- Then, repeat on the other arm.
Muscles targeted: core
- Using a slider or a towel under your forearms, get into a plank position with shoulders stacked over elbows. Ensure your body is in a straight line from your head to your feet.
- Then, push your body back then pull forwards to the start position for the desired number of repetitions. Only slide within a range where you can maintain a neutral spine.
Muscles targeted: hamstrings, glutes
- Firstly, hold a dumbbell in your left hand. Stand with your weight on your right leg, keeping a slight bend in the knee.
- Now, tilt forwards at the hips and lower the dumbbell towards the floor while simultaneously kicking the heel of the left leg backwards. Be sure to keep the body in a long straight line, with your hips square to the floor.
- Slowly return to start position. Perform for the desired number of repetitions.
Muscles targeted: pecs, front shoulders, triceps
- Lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor, bend your legs to 90 degrees with heels under your knees
- Then, push through your heels and drive your hips upwards, keeping only your shoulders and feet on the floor.
- Now, with dumbbells in hand, slowly push each arm into the air, one at a time, keeping your back raised.
- Repeat for the full set.
Muscles targeted: triceps
- Firstly, lay back on a bench or the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip position (palms facing).
- Now, roll the dumbbells back behind the shoulders. Then, roll them up into an extension above the head.
- Try to keep your elbows parallel and avoid flaring them out.
Muscles targeted: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes
- Holding a dumbbell in each hand (using a suitcase carry), start in a half-kneeling position. Kneel on your right leg with the right knee directly below the hip. Now, place the left leg in front of you with the heel directly below the knee. You can also feel free to place a towel under the back knee for padding.
- Then, straighten your legs to stand up, pushing through the front heel.
- Now, slowly lower back down to the start position, then repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Muscles targeted: lats (back), rear delts, upper back
- Firstly, take a step back from a bench (or use a table or chair).
- Now assume an athletic position with both knees bent and with a straight back.
- Place one arm on the bench, maintaining a flat back.
- Next, row the dumbbell to your lower abs, pulling the elbow back towards the ceiling.
- Slowly return to the start position without losing your body position.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Muscles targeted: biceps
- Firstly, stand tall holding a dumbbell in each hand.
- Then, contract your bicep to curl the left arm up, palm facing the ceiling.
- Now, hold this position, keeping your right hand by your side.
- Then, curl the right arm up and hold the dumbbell in place. While pausing right arm, lower the left arm back to the start position.
- Repeat the sequence for the desired number of reps.
Don’t forget to cool down – check out our guide to the best stretching exercises
- Try this 3-move dumbbell and bodyweight legs workout
- Build bigger arms with just one set of dumbbells
- Build stronger pecs with this dumbbell chest workout
Head to our sister site, Women’s Fitness UK, for a full-body dumbbell workout for women