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Full body workout with dumbbells: how to work on every muscle using just one piece of equipment

Angelica Avolio - Personal Trainer & Nutritionist

Dumbbells are one of the most used tools in the fitness world thanks to their versatility and ease of use, but are also particularly great for improving stability, strength, balance, and proprioception. Thanks to all these benefits, if you have a pair of dumbbells at home, you can easily train any muscle group without resorting to other pieces of equipment.  

In this article, we will show you a simple, yet effective full-body workout that you can do either at home or at the gym, using only a pair of dumbbells.

If you prefer, we also have a downloadable pdf with the workout below.

Full body workout with dumbbells

Dumbbells can be used to train arms, back, chest, legs, and core. The below workout should be done a minimum of twice per week to provide enough stimulus to the muscles. 

Front Squats to Shoulder Presses

Technique

  1. Grab a dumbbell with each hand and stand upright with your feet hip-width apart
  2. Move the dumbbells to your chest, with the palms facing in
  3. Hinge back at the hips, then bend your knees to squat down, keeping the dumbbells against your chest
  4. Push through your heels to move back up, whilst also rotating your hands so that your palms face out 
  5. Once upright, push the dumbbells above your head, keeping the palms facing in front of you.
  6. Lower the dumbbells back down to your chest, rotating the palms inwards again. This is one repetition

Repetitions and sets

Perform 8-12 repetitions for 3-5 sets

Romanian Deadlifts

Technique

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and stand upright with your feet hip-width apart
  2. Place the dumbbells against your thighs, with your palms facing inwards
  3. Hinge at the hips to move your torso forward, whilst lowering the dumbbells down your legs and keeping the back neutral. Your legs should remain stiff, or with a slight bend.
  4. Move the hips back to the original position while moving the dumbbells up along the thighs. This is one repetition 

Repetitions and sets

Perform 8-12 repetitions for 3-5 sets

Bench Press

Technique

  1. Grab a dumbbell with each hand, then sit on a bench or a mat
  2. Lay down on your back, then move your hands next to your chest whilst holding the dumbbells horizontally to your body
  3. Extend your arm to push the dumbbells up right above your chest. Hold for a couple of seconds.
  4. Slowly bend the elbows to move the dumbbells back down to the sides of your chest. This is one repetition

Repetitions and sets

Perform 8-12 repetitions for 3-4 sets

Rows

Technique

  1. Grab a dumbbell with each hand, then stand upright
  2. Hinge back at the hips to move your torso forward, ensuring to maintain a neutral spine
  3. With your torso parallel to the floor, extend your arms down in line with your shoulders and the palms facing each other
  4. Bend the elbows to move the dumbbells up to the sides of your torso and contract your back
  5. Lower the dumbbells back down. This is one repetition

Repetitions and sets

Perform 8-10 repetitions for 3-4 sets

Bicep Curls

Technique

  1. Stand upright, holding a dumbbell in each hand
  2. Move the dumbbells to the side of your thighs, with the palms facing in front of you
  3. Keeping your elbows tucked into your waist, bend them to move the dumbbells up to your chest
  4. Holding your elbows in place, extend your arms to lower the dumbbells back down to the side of your legs. This is one repetition

Repetitions and sets

Perform 10-12 repetitions for 2-3 sets

Sit Ups

Technique

  1. Sit down on a mat whilst holding a dumbbell in each hand
  2. Bend your knees to place your feet flat on the floor
  3. Keeping the knees bent, lay on your back holding the dumbbells at shoulder height
  4. Using your core, lift your torso up until vertical to the floor, whilst also extending your arms up to move the dumbbells above your head
  5. Lower your arms to move the dumbbell back to your shoulders, whilst also laying back down on the floor. This is one repetition

Repetitions and sets

Perform 12-15 repetitions for 2-4 sets

Final words

Working out using dumbbells is a great option, especially if you want to work on your whole body and don’t have many other fitness tools or equipment available. Ideally, perform this full-body workout a minimum of twice a week to gain more health benefits.

References

Hedrick, A., 2019. Dumbbell training. Human Kinetics.

George, R., 2016. Freeweight Training Anatomy: An Illustrated Guide to the Muscles Used While Exercising with Dumbbells, Barbells, and Kettlebells and More. Simon and Schuster.

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