6 Full-Body Dumbbell Exercises That Will Maximize Your Gains


Working out for over an hour every day just isn’t feasible for most busy guys. That’s why finding the right exercises to incorporate into your workout program will prove vital to your bodybuilding success. Even your time is limited, you can still find a way to elicit substantial muscle gains and fat loss by incorporating these full-body movements into your workout regimen. Each move allows for time under tension, efficiency and variation.

All you’ll need is a pair of dumbbells, some space to move, and the perseverance to fight through the strain of these six full-body moves.

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Rear Foot Elevated Squat to Hinge

How to do it:

This is sometimes called a weighted Bulgarian split squat. Get a bench, box or anything comfortable enough to rest your back foot. Place one foot behind you raised on the bench and stand with a dumbbell in each hand. Slowly lower your knee to a light touch on the ground, making sure to keep your chest up. At the top of the squat perform a hip hinge movement while maintaining your posture.

What it works:

This works your glutes, quads, core, hip flexors, calves and posture. It’s a big time glute-builder! If you thought lunges made you sore, wait until you try these out.

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Split Squat to Lateral Raise

How to do it:

Start in a split squat stance with a dumbbell in each hand, and your arms held out to your sides, parallel to the ground. Slowly lower your knee down to the ground with your back leg while keeping your chest up. Simultaneously bring your arms down to your sides. Immediately pop back up and raise arms directly out to sides. Come back down and repeat with the back leg and arms.

What it works:

This exercise targets your glute muscles, quadriceps, shoulders and your core. I particularly like this move because you have to transfer strength from the ground up. If you core is relaxed you are not going to be able to get those dumbbells up. Stay strong and keep your core tight throughout the move.

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How to do it:

It’s probably better to do this with hexagonal dumbbells, rather than round ones, since you’ll need them to support your weight in pushup position.

Start standing up, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Go into a pushup position, holding the dumbbells, and do a pushup. At the top of the pushup, row each arm individually without swaying your hips. Bring your feet under you and stand up. While standing up, perform a bicep curl and then press your hands over your head for a shoulder press. Bring the dumbbells back down to your shoulders softly. Perform one forward lunge on each leg. That’s one “rep.”

What it works:

There’s a lot of time under tension, and you’ll literally hit every muscle fiber you have with one sequence of movements.

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Lunge With Overhead Reach

How to do it:

Stand with a dumbbell in each hand at your sides and perform a lunge (toes pointing forward). At the bottom of the lunge, hold the tension in your legs and core. As you hold that position, lift the dumbbells overhead, and bring them back back down to your side, staying in that low position. Drive your foot back and stand up and then repeat on the other side.

What it works:

This works your gluteus medius, shoulders, abs, inner groin, and helps a lot with hip and ankle mobility. This move is highly effective for flexibility and lateral hip drive. Do these two to three times per week and watch your hips become stronger and more flexible.

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Valslide Weighted Crawl

How to do it:

Grab two Valslides (commonly known as sliding discs) or anything that will move smoothly over a surface (i.e. towels on a gym floor) and place them under your feet. Grab two fairly heavy dumbbells that will not roll (ideally hexagonal dumbbells). Keeping your core straight from head to toe, start crawling with just your arms, making sure to keep them fully extended at the elbow. Go for twenty to thirty yards, keeping your core locked into place.

What it works:

You will feel this instantly in your core and shoulder muscles. Just maintaining that position alone is tough to do, but when you hold weights as you do it, it’ll make it even tougher.

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Gladiator Press

How to do it:

1. The beginning of this exercise starts like a a Turkish getup. Start by lying flat on your back, holding a dumbbell in your right hand, with your right knee bent, your right foot flat on the floor, and your left arm and left leg at your side.
2. Extend your right arm toward the ceiling and hold it there.
3. Next, drive through your right foot and roll onto your left elbow. Straighten your left arm so you’re supporting some of your weight with your left hand.
4. Lift your hips off the ground and pivot your torso so your left leg is under your right leg, making sure to hold the dumbbell toward the ceiling the whole time. Bring your feet together and go into a side plank.
5. Lift your right leg, then bring it back down to where you started. Do each step in reverse until you’re back at the starting position.

What it works:

The gladiator press is an excellent move for shoulder stability, core strength, and mobility. It targets your obliques, and really forces you to have total-body control. It’s a great exercise for athletes like boxers or MMA fighters.

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