Dumbbell workouts work your upper body, lower body, and even the abs. You can use multiple sets of dumbbells or adjustable ones, but you should be ready to have several weights available.
If you’re unsure what routine to follow when doing dumbbell workouts, look no further! We have the best 7 dumbbell workouts that are proven to get your stronger and faster.
Dumbbell Workouts For Strength and Endurance
Dumbbell Goblet Squat
It’s a squat, but one that works more than just your glutes and hamstrings. It also works the upper back, the core, the arms, and the shoulders.
How to do it:
- Hold one dumbbell vertically from one end, with both hands, hugging it against your chest.
- Stand up with your spine straight, core engaged at all times to protect your lower back.
- Feet are hip-width distance apart or slightly wider.
- Lower into a squat as you normally would. Your elbows will go just past the inside of your knees.
- Return to standing.
Dumbbell Workouts – Dumbbell Rows
This is an upper-body exercise. It can be done on one side at a time, or both sides simultaneously.
Through it, you’ll be working the back muscles, the biceps, and the shoulders. As always, your core will have to be engaged to protect your low back, so you’ll be working those muscles indirectly.
How to do it:
- Stand with feet shoulder-width distance apart.
- Hold one dumbbell in each hand.
- Bend over at the waist until your torso is almost parallel to the floor.
If you need to make this easier you can lift a bit more, but not more than a 45 degrees angle, or you’ll be working the wrong muscles.
- The dumbbells will be in front of the body and your arms fully extended.
- Pull the dumbbells up to your ribcage while contracting the back.
- Hold for a couple of seconds, then lower the arms back down.
These are just like normal lunges, only you’ll be doing them holding dumbbells in your hands. As a result, you will not only work the glutes and hamstrings but also your arms and shoulders.
How to do it:
- Stand up with your spine straight, core engaged.
- Hold one dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip.
- Your feet should be about shoulder-width distance apart.
- Take one big step with one foot, while lowering your back knee towards the ground.
- The front shin should be vertical the knee shouldn’t go past the toes.
- Using the front leg, push yourself back into the initial position.
- You can either do the exercise alternating between legs or do a set for one leg, then repeat for the other one.
Dumbbell Workouts – Incline Dumbbell Press
For this exercise, you’re going to need a bench in addition to the dumbbells. It targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
You might be more familiar with the traditional chest press, done on a flat bench or even on the ground.
The difference between the two is that the incline chest press shifts the focus to the upper portion of the pectoral muscles and the front of the shoulder.
This allows more muscle growth in comparison to the traditional chest press.
How to do it:
- Lie back on the inclined bench.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level. Elbows are bent and angled below your ribs.
- Engage your core.
- Press both dumbbells straight up over your chest as you exhale.
- Keep your wrists straight to avoid any injuries.
- When you’re at the top, the dumbbells should almost touch each other.
- Reverse the movement and bring your arms back down. Your elbows should come at a 45 degrees angle pointing towards the floor.
One Arm Dumbbell Swing
This is an exercise that works a lot of muscles: arms, back, hamstrings, calves, deltoids, and upper trapezius.
In addition to helping you build strength and endurance, you’ll also get the nice benefit of improving your balance.
How to do it:
- Hold the dumbbell in one hand at arm’s length, between your legs.
- Lower into a squat and swing the dumbbell back between your legs.
- Immediately drive yourself forward, bringing the dumbbell in front of you, towards your head, with the arm straight. As you come up, your legs will also straighten.
- Do a set on one side, then switch.
- During the entire exercise, remember to keep your core engaged to protect your low back. Control the arm’s movement using the strength of your muscles, don’t rely only on momentum to make the swing happen.
The overhead press is probably the best-known shoulder exercise. You’ll find it in most strength training programs and it can be done both with dumbbells or with a barbell.
If you’re at the gym, you might also use a power rack, especially if you’re a beginner or if you want to lift very heavy without having a spotter. However, dumbbells are perfect and more than enough.
In fact, they might even prevent muscular imbalances which can be exacerbated if you use a barbell. Nothing is stopping you from unwillingly using one side more than the other to lift. With dumbbells, this issue is completely eliminated.
How to do it:
- Stand with your spine straight, feet shoulder-width distance apart.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms by your side.
- Bring the dumbbells at shoulder level, with the elbows bent at a 90 degrees angle.
- Inhale and press the dumbbells above your head, straightening the elbows.
- The dumbbells should almost touch each other when above your head.
- You can keep a slight bend in the elbows to avoid locking them.
- Exhale and bring the arms back, elbows at 90 degrees, dumbbells at shoulder level.
- Your core should be engaged all the time.
If you are a beginner or want to protect your lower back more, you can do the exercise sitting on a workout bench.
Weighted Glute Bridge
The final exercise in this series, the weighted bridge, works the glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, low back, and abs. You can use one or two dumbbells, depending on how much weight you want to lift.
How to do it:
- Lie down on an exercise mat. Bend the knees and place your feet as close to your buttocks as is comfortable for you, feet a bit wider than hip-width.
- Place the dumbbell on your hips and hold it with your hands.
- Squeeze your glutes and raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
- Hold for a few seconds, then lower back down.
- For an added challenge, when you lower back down, stop just before you touch the ground.
- Repeat the exercise several times.
Dumbell Workouts – Complete Workout Routine for Strength and Endurance
Now you’re probably wondering how to combine all these exercises into one routine. How many times should you do each exercise? Does the order matter? Here’s how to get a complete workout.
Step 1: Warm-up
Avoid starting a workout routine without warming up. You can do a short light cardio session such as 10-15 minutes on an elliptical, a stationary bike or a treadmill.
If you don’t have any of those at home, you can do some light aerobic exercises. It’s important that you warm up all the muscles you’ll be working on.
Source: Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc
Step 2: The Workout
Once you finish your warm-up, you can start your workout routine. The order of the exercises doesn’t really matter. You could do them as they are listed, alternating muscle groups between exercises.
This will have two main benefits. One, it will give time to your muscles to rest while you’re working on another group. That way you’ll be able to do more because you won’t work one muscle group to exhaustion.
Two, it will keep your body guessing, which will help maximize results by not allowing you to hit a plateau. However, if you prefer to start from top to bottom, that’s great too.
As for how many times to do each exercise, here’s my suggestion. Do 10-12 repetitions on an exercise. Rest for 30-60 seconds then move on to the next.
Once you’ve done all 7 exercises, rest for about 3 minutes, then repeat the workout. Do this 3 times for a complete HIIT dumbbell workout.
Step 3: Stretch
Never skip the cooldown and stretching step! I know you’re focusing on strength and endurance, but trust me, this step is not a waste of time!
Quite the contrary. It will help you reduce soreness and improve your flexibility, which in turn will reduce the risk of injury.
Pre-workout warm-ups are best done with dynamic stretches. Consecutively, after your routine, you should be doing static stretches. The emphasis will be on the muscles you just worked.
You don’t have to do any crazy yoga postures if you don’t want to. You should do just enough to relieve tension from your muscles, so don’t be afraid to hold a stretch longer if one area feels particularly tight.
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