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Minimal Equipment Training: How to Maximise Training with a Single Kettlebell or Dumbbell

These days, there are many reasons why you might find yourself having to train with minimal equipment. Find out how to make the most out of it.

I believe that minimal kit training is an art form.

It’s about becoming creative enough to achieve the desired outcome whilst working with little to no equipment, it’s a skill that will help you become a more consistent athlete as you have less reason to miss workouts.

It is inevitable that there will be times when you find yourself away from your usual training space, without a wide array of equipment.

The decision to miss your training session or, conversely, to make do with what you’ve got, is down to you.

Training with Minimal Equipment 

I believe that having limited options can actually be a positive  thing for most, it channels you and allows you to focus on the work rather than bouncing from equipment piece to equipment piece.

Minimal Kit workouts do not have to be a watered down version of your regular training as some seem to think. With an understanding of programming and progression, most people would be able to improve performance and body composition just from re-focusing on the fundamentals of fitness, while also reducing the time needed for their fitness fix.

Getting More Out of Your Single Kettlebell or Dumbbell 

Below are a number of ways in which you can increase the effectiveness of your minimal kit workouts without the option of increasing the weight, these will not only allow you to overload the muscles but also get the lungs pumping.

Think Tempo 

Rather than just bouncing through your 15-20 Squats, lets cut the rep range to 10-12 reps and move more deliberately, take a 3 second eccentric and pause in the hold for a second or two before driving up hard and explosively to the top of your squat.

Play with tempos, increase the eccentrics, use isometrics to improve muscle activation and time under tension.

Try this…

  • 100 DB/KB Goblet Squats [Tempo 3 2 X 1]

Start with a 3 second descent pausing for 2 seconds at the bottom before explosively standing out of the Squat, pausing for 1 second at the top before repeating.

Every time your tempo breaks stop and rest as required.

This is a great way of making something easy incredibly hard: making each movement deliberate and aiming to fire up every possible muscle fibre in the squat. Not only are you challenging yourself physically but also your mental toughness – be ruthless with yourself and break when your tempo starts to break down.

Build a solid foundation of strength

Use Supersets 

Taking a KB/DB movement and pairing it with a Bodyweight movement that you can rep out on is another great way of increasing the overall output of a movement pattern without increasing weight.

Try this…

EMOM 12 minutes

  • Odd Min – 20 DB/KB Goblet Lunges + AMRAP Jump Squats 
  • Even Min – Rest

Complete your DB/KB movement before repping out the rest of the minute with your bodyweight Squats, then rest for the next minute.

A simple but effective way of overloading the muscle and can be done using a variety of movements targeting any muscle group, a Push press and Push up combination would be an awesome upper body burner.

Chase Intensity 

The intensity at which you complete the movement is going to change the muscle stimulus. If you think of the Air Squat, 20 Air Squats completed in 40 seconds is going to be a lot different from 20 Air Squats completed in 20 seconds.

Try this…


  • +2 DB/KB Alternative Arm Snatch

*Increase by 2 reps each minute until

The ‘Death by’ method is an awesome way of encouraging you to work at a higher intensity, chasing the clock to squeeze in every last rep. This is another method that can be used for any movement however, I find it’s awesome when using a ballistic or dynamic movement to get the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to cardiovascular and muscle stimulus.

Overkill Volume 

The simplest way of progressively overloading a muscle group without increasing the weight is to increase the volume: doing more reps, sets, rounds etc.

Give this burner a try

AMRAP 12 mins

  • 4 Pull ups
  • 8 Push ups
  • 12 KB American Swings

The great thing about this style of workout is that we are working the body as a whole while continuing to overload the shoulders, this allows us to try and make the Swings more efficient with every round as the fatigue builds.

These are just a few of the infinite methods you could use to get the most out of your minimal kit. Remember to have fun with it and embrace the less thought, more feel approach to training.

Read more: How to Write Better Home Workouts

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