Here are some basic dumbbell exercise moves for your next dumbbell workout. Dumbbells are a great workout choice for isolation exercises, strength, & muscular endurance training.
Beginner Dumbbell Workout:
*Use your judgement when arranging your sets & reps. If you are trying to build strength & muscle, do 3-5 sets of low-rep, heavy-weights for each exercise. If your goal is to build muscular endurance, do 2-4 sets of high-rep, middle-weights for each exercise.
Upper Body Dumbbell Exercises:
- Dumbbell Flys: Begin either laying on your back, or standing with your torso hinged forward at the hips (looking down at the ground). With a dumbbell in each hand, extended out from the chest, move your arms out to the side, then back to meet in the middle.
- Shoulder Press: With a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder-height (elbows bent, hands pointed up), straighten your arms up overhead, then lower them back down to the shoulders.
- Bent Over Row: Hinge your torso forward at the hips, keeping your back straight. With a dumbbell in each hand, begin with them hanging down towards the ground. Pull the weight up into your chest, then lower them back downwards
- T-Push Ups: Use a pair of dumbbells as your handholds for push ups. On the upward movement of each push up, shift your weight to one side and lift your open arm + dumbbell up towards the ceiling, making a T shape with your body. Alternate sides each time.
- Dumbbell Bench Press: Exactly the same as a barbell bench press, but with dumbbells. This can be helpful for isolating weak spots/sides for extra work.
Core Dumbbell Exercises:
- Weighted Hanging leg raises: Either in a Captain’s Chair, or hanging from a pull-up bar, grip a dumbbell in-between your feet & do leg raises. Some options are with legs fully extended & raised to parallel with the ground, or all the way up to the bar. An easier option is with knees bent & brought up to the chest for each rep.
- Russian Twist: Sit on the ground & “float” your legs up off the ground. Maintain balance on your sit bones, hold a dumbbell with both hands. Twist to the left & right, tapping the dumbbell lightly on the floor behind your back for each rep.
- Weighted decline sit ups: On the decline sit-up bench, hold a dumbbell with both hands, either behind the head or at the chest. Perform sit ups as usual. This can be done with traditional sit ups as well (decline bench not necessary).
- Back Extensions: On the Roman Chair, grip one dumbbell with both hands either behind the head or at the chest. Perform back extensions as you normally would.
Lower Body Dumbbell Exercises:
- 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.
- Goblet squats: Hold a dumbbell with both hands at the chest. Perform your squats as you normally would.
- Lunges: Incorporate dumbbells into lunges by holding one in each hand either hanging down in each arm, or hold one heavy dumbbell with both hands at chest height, or overhead. Possible lunges include walking, reverse, overhead, or side lunges.
- Donkey Kicks: Get into position on all fours (hands & knees). Place one dumbbell in the crook of your knee, and keeping it squeezed there, kick the leg up towards the ceiling. Repeat on both sides.