We’ve talked before about the differences between compound and isolation exercises. In general compound exercises will help you get an intense, full-body workout in less amount of time. A barbell tends to be the equipment of choice for compound exercises, but when a barbell isn’t available, you can still get a great compound workout in using dumbbells!
Full Body Dumbbell Workout:
Aim for 4 sets of 8 reps for each of the following moves, at your max weight.
- Bulgarian split squats: Hold a dumbbell in each hand, stand facing away from a bench, and place the top of one foot on the bench. Try to keep all the weight on your front (standing) foot as you bend at the knee and descend into a one-legged squat. The further forward your front foot is from the bench, the more difficult the squat. Switch and repeat on the other side.
- Lunges: Holding dumbbells while you’re doing lunges is a great way to increase the burn. You can use dumbbells with traditional lunges, walking lunges, lunge jumps, reverse lunges, etc.
- Single leg deadlift: This requires much more mobility & balance than the traditional deadlift. Begin with a dumbbell in each hand, shift your weight onto one leg, and extend your other leg behind you (off the ground). Tip your body forward, keeping your back straight & in-line with your extended back leg, your torso should come close to parallel (or past parallel) with the ground. Let the dumbbells in your hands hang downwards, tip forward, and bend your standing leg until the dumbbells get close to the ground, then reverse the movement and come back up. Switch and repeat on the other side.
- T-push ups: Use a pair of dumbbells as your handholds for your push ups. As you come up from each push up, turn to the side and lift the open (top) arm’s dumbbell up overhead so your body makes a “T” shape. Alternate sides with each push up.
- Thrusters: Hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder-height. Descend into a squat, rise, then at the top of each squat push the dumbbells up overhead. Drop the dumbbells back down to your shoulders as you descend into the next squat.
- Pec flys: These can be done either laying on your back, or standing with your torso hinged forward at the hips. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended directly out from the chest. Move your arms out to the side, and then back in front of your chest.
- Step ups or box jumps: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and face a high box or ledge. Step or jump up, then back down, as quickly as possible.