So, you took the plunge and purchased your own sets of dumbbells—now what? I’m here to teach you some simple ways to utilize those beauties to build muscular strength and endurance. For these workouts, you will need 2 sets of dumbbells—one heavy set and one light set. Note that everything can be performed with just one set, but 2 or more are preferable for best results and use of time.
Top 10 Reasons Why Dumbbell Workouts are Good
Before we get started, let’s discuss the top 10 reasons why dumbbell workouts are so effective:
- Safety first! When you’re working out solo with no one to spot you, working out with dumbbells is far safer than utilizing a barbell (1).
- Dumbbell exercises force you to use your stabilizer muscles, since the weights are not attached, and you’re also not relying on a fixed machine that does a lot of the work for you (2).
- Dumbbell workouts require constant core engagement to maintain even tension and balance while performing the exercises (3).
- Dumbbell training is the best way to prevent muscle imbalances. By using 2 weights instead of 1, you are not allowing one side to compensate for the other side (4).
- You can also work unilaterally instead of just bilaterally for an added challenge and to mix up your routine even more (5).
- You have a better range of motion since you are not limited by a bar or machine (6).
- It is one of the most challenging ways to complete a workout, so you have major bragging rights when you perform dumbbell workouts (7).
- Dumbbells are easier to store and transport so you can exercise anywhere.
- Hitting a plateau? Easy fix—swap out your weights for heavier ones.
- You’ve heard of dumbbell exercises for your back and dumbbell exercises for your chest, but what about dumbbell workouts for your brain? Bonus! It takes extra brain power to work out with dumbbells too (8).
Dumbbell Workouts for Your Whole Body
Hopefully, you’re now even more excited to get started on a dumbbell workout because there is no doubt you are making an excellent choice to effectively get a solid routine in. I have split the workouts into upper body, lower body, and core-focused super sets, so everything you need to get a full body dumbbell workout is here. I recommend performing these on three separate days to give some of your muscles time to recover and focus on the others. Other equipment is recommended for these workouts: a mat or towel and a bench.
Upper Body Dumbbell Workouts
Let’s get started with upper body, which includes dumbbell exercises focused on your back, chest, shoulders, triceps, and biceps plus a little sneaky lower body/core/cardio thrown in. This is split-up into 3 different AMRAPS, each performed for 8-9 minutes. Rest 1-2 minutes between each AMRAP.
Wait, what is an AMRAP?! This is just an acronym for As Many Reps (or Rounds) As Possible. In this instance, you’re completing as many rounds of A & B in 8-9 minutes as you possibly can (without sacrificing form of course).
DB Kickbacks – 15 reps
Lower Body Dumbbell Workouts
Now we move to the lower body, which includes dumbbell exercises focused on quads, hamstrings, and glutes with the second engagement of abductors, adductors, and calves. Note that lower body workouts generally tend to elevate the heart rate more, so don’t be surprised if this feels like you’re getting your cardio in too.
The format for this workout is the same as the upper body one—3 AMRAPS performed for 8-9 minutes each with 1-2 minutes rest in between each AMRAP.
DB Unilateral Curtsy Lunges – 10 reps each side
DB Walking Lunges – 20 steps
Dumbbell Workouts for the Core
Finally, it’s time for some serious core work. Even though you have been working your core this entire time, this workout is designed to really target your mid-section, which are arguably the most important muscles of all. Not only are toned abs, obliques & low back muscles aesthetically pleasing, but they are also important to increase mobility and stability, avoid injuries, increase athletic performance, and generally feel better overall.
The format for this torcher is 3 different 5–6-minute AMRAPS with 90 seconds rest in between each AMRAP. You do not need as long to work your core muscles, and this workout can be performed on its own day or even added to the previous 2 workouts if time permits. This is also a good day to include some steady-state cardio as an active recovery for your other muscles.
Before I leave you to get started on your dumbbell workout adventures, I want to point out a few important things. First, do not get stuck on the rep numbers. Adjust them up or down to fit your needs. For example, if you want to focus on really building strength, take the rep numbers down and use heavier dumbbells. On the flip side, if you only have access to light dumbbells, increase the reps to make sure you’re really getting that true muscular endurance work in. Another number to not get stuck on is the AMRAP length.
If you have and desire more time with each superset, go for it! If you are new to exercising and that time length is just too daunting, cut it down and build toward increasing your workout duration over time. Finally, and most importantly, have fun conquering these challenging workouts and feel proud of yourself for accomplishing them when you are done. Taking time to reflect on your hard work is just as important as the workout itself. After all, fitness is both a physical and mental journey.
(1) “Dumbbell-Only Workout Results” https://www.fitnessbaddies.com/dumbbell-only-workout-results/ Accessed 21 September, 2022.
(2) “Dumbbell-Only Workout Results” https://www.fitnessbaddies.com/dumbbell-only-workout-results/ Accessed 21 September, 2022.
(3) “Dumbbell-Only Workout Results” Fitness Baddies, 2022 https://www.fitnessbaddies.com/dumbbell-only-workout-results/ Accessed 21 September, 2022.
(4) “Dumbbell-Only Workout Results” https://www.fitnessbaddies.com/dumbbell-only-workout-results/ Accessed 21 September, 2022.
(5) “The Importance of Muscular Strength: Training Considerations” Sports Med., Apr. 2018 https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2020.519171/full/ Accessed 21 September, 2022.
(6) “Dumbbell-Only Workout Results” https://www.fitnessbaddies.com/dumbbell-only-workout-results/ Accessed 21 September, 2022.
(7) “Dumbbell-Only Workout Results” https://www.fitnessbaddies.com/dumbbell-only-workout-results/ Accessed 21 September, 2022.
(8) “Acute Effects of Two Types of Dumbbell Exercises on Oxygenated Hemodynamic Concentration of Cerebral Activation in Healthy Young Male Adults: A Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Study” Front. Hum. Neurosci., 05 November 2020 https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2020.519171/full/ Accessed 21 September, 2022.