Alongside the famous barbell and all of its perks, dumbbells might be the main piece of equipment fitness geeks love and simply can’t live without. They are a commodity that can not only be found in every single gym that you step into, but also in your bedroom, the garage, or anywhere else you go for a workout. To give it an adequate definition – it is a quintessential muscle-building tool.
Virtually, there isn’t a single muscle on your body which you can’t shape and strengthen using dumbbells and that’s just one of the reasons why they are so amazing. That being said, we decided to build a full-body workout routine for which you only need a pair of dumbbells. We shall start from the legs, then move on to the upper-body parts, trying to trigger as many muscles on your body as we can.
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To kick things off we shall focus on legs since they require a lot of energy right off the bat. The lunge activates your glutes, your hamstrings, quads, and it will test a lot of your smaller, lateral muscles. You will need to focus on the movement since it can get slightly difficult to maintain balance after a couple of reps, once your muscles really start to get involved.
Pick a pair of dumbbells that you find suitable for you. Since this is the first exercise of our workout, try doing the starting set with a lower weight and progress from there. Make sure you have some free space in front of you since you will be moving back and forward. Try performing 3 to 4 sets of this exercise with 10 to 12 reps during every set.
- Stand upright with your feet at about shoulder-width apart, holding the dumbbells by your hips, palms facing each other. This is your beginning position.
- Proceed to take a long step forward. Your knee should bend until you reach an angle of about 90 degrees (until your thigh is parallel to the ground). If you started your set with your right foot then your next rep should be with your left foot and vice versa.
- Land on your heel and keep your foot nice and steady on the ground. Try controlling the movement as much as you can, this will help with your balance.
- Finally, return to the starting position and try not to “cheat” your way back, but rather opt for a slower movement, letting your muscles do all of the work and not the momentum.
The next exercise is the squat. Just because you don’t have a barbell doesn’t mean you can’t squat. Using a dumbbell or a kettlebell can be equally efficient for reaching muscle hypertrophy.
This exercise will pound your leg muscles even further, activating all the leg muscles if done properly. It deserves its spot on the list not only because it’s one of the core compound exercises, but also because you can do it anywhere and without any equipment too. Try performing 3 sets with at least 8 reps during each set.
- Stand upright with your feet at about shoulder-width apart or a bit wider (depending on ankle mobility; less mobility=wider stance). This is your starting position.
- Hold the dumbbell by its end, either close to your groin or up by your chest (this variation includes more shoulder work).
- Let the weight guide your “downward” phase of the exercise. Slowly go down into a squat making sure your core is braced, knees in line with your toes, keeping your back straight. The movement should be as deep as your body allows it.
- Return to the starting position.
The chest fly is famed for its ability to fully activate the pectoralis muscle group and it is, therefore, an exercise integral to any workout regimen worth your time. Usually, it is performed on a bench, but if you do not have a bench at your disposal fear not. You can just lay on the ground and perform the exercise that way.
The fly shouldn’t be performed with a huge amount of weight so pay attention to which dumbbells you take. Perform 3 sets with about 10 to 12 reps.
- Begin by lifting the dumbbells up and holding them above your chest at about shoulder width.
- Slightly bend your elbows with your thumbs facing inwards, towards one another.
- Don’t let the dumbbells touch at the top. Hold them close for about a second and then slowly lower the weight down, stretching out your pecs.
- Return to the starting position
The bicep curl is one of the most efficient bicep building exercises we know of. It allows a full range of motion and it has several useful variations which other exercises do not. That’s what separates the good exercises from great ones.
In addition, it is a fairly simple exercise to perform therefore you will be able to master this exercise in a short amount of time. This is an isolation exercise so we do not need a lot of sets. Try performing 3 sets with 8 to 10 reps.
- Pick a weight you’re comfortable with. Arms are in a neutral position with your hands holding the dumbbell firmly. This will be your starting position.
- Begin by raising one of the dumbbells upwards all the way to your chest, or to a position that your body allows.
- At the peak of the movement hold the dumbbell for a second, and then slowly return to the starting position of the exercise.
Dumbbell tricep kickbacks
The arm muscle which we haven’t yet targeted is the triceps. The tricep kickbacks, similar to the fly, can be done with a bench, but it is not necessary. If you don’t have one you can simply bend in your knees and do the exercise that way.
Picking the right weight for this exercise is important. You ought to choose a weight which isn’t too light, but you also don’t want to compromise on your form so don’t go too heavy. Again, we’re dealing with an isolation exercise and we don’t need plenty of sets. Do 3 sets with at least 10 reps.
- Start by holding the designated dumbbell in each of your hands (if you don’t have a bench) and take only one if you do.
- Your palms should be facing each other and you should have a bent position so your back is almost parallel to the ground.
- Your arms should be as close to your torso as the body allows it. Try bracing your core and slightly tucking your chin in throughout the movement.
- Next, straighten your elbows and “kick” the dumbbell back using your triceps. Tip: if you want to activate your triceps even more try holding the straightened position for a second or two.
- Slowly bring the dumbbell to the starting position.
Lastly, come the back muscles. For our dumbbell workout, we chose the dumbbell rows. It’s a fairly straightforward exercise and it targets the most important back muscles we haven’t touched yet during the workout.
For this exercise, you can choose a slightly heavier dumbbell if you have one. Also, you can do a variation with two dumbbells at the same time, although it might be a bit more challenging. Suit yourself. For this variation, you don’t need a bench or anything else to provide you with additional balance.
Try to perform 3 sets with 8 repetitions during each set.
- Start with grabbing the right weight and positioning yourself by resting one of your arms and legs either on a bench, or anything else which can provide balance.
- Once you’re there, raise the dumbbell up towards your torso until you almost touch your stomach keeping your back straight and your core flexed.
- Slowly start lowering the dumbbell and feel your back muscles stretching out as the weight goes down.
With the dumbbell rows we’ve successfully activated the majority of your muscles and hopefully made you sweat a little bit. This full-body workout is useful when you’re in a rush or simply want to spice things up a little bit when you’re bored of the same old same old. Happy lifting!