When you don’t have a long list of options in your home gym—or it’s rush hour at your local gym and most of the equipment is taken—you’ve gotta be prepared. Most people can get access to a few pairs of dumbbells, an adjustable bench, and floor space. If you can do that, then this full-body dumbbell workout will tick all the boxes for awesome conditioning.
What You Need: A pair of light, medium, and heavy dumbbells, an adjustable bench, and some space to do your thing.
Directions: This workout will take about 45 minutes to complete. It utilizes supersets to keep things efficient, bring the heart rate up, and pump up your muscle volume. Each exercise pairing starts with a large movement followed by a smaller movement that’s less physically taxing to ensure you don’t run out of steam before the end. The two exercises are performed back-to-back with zero rest between them. Once you complete the second exercise in the pairing, rest for the prescribed amount of time. Then repeat the superset. The supersets are listed as A1 and A2, B1 and B2, and so on.
- A1. Dumbbell B-Stance Squat x 10 (each leg): Grab a heavier dumbbell and hold it vertically with both hands, as you would for a goblet squat. Keeping your feet roughly shoulder-width apart, put all your weight on one foot and then place your other foot slightly behind you (only your toe should be touching the ground). Maintaining a tall, upright torso, descend into a squat position while keeping your weight centered over your front leg. The other leg can bend out to the side as you go into the bottom of the squat.
- A2. Bentover Reverse Flye x 12: Use your lightest dumbbells. Position yourself with your feet shoulder-width apart, and then bend over at the hips while maintaining a flat spine. Hold the dumbbells with your arms fully extended straight down below you; keep the palms facing toward each other. In one motion, squeeze the shoulder blades together and fly the weights apart and up to shoulder level while keeping your arms extended. Look for a deep contraction in the upper back and postural muscles. Keep your eyes down in order to keep the neck in alignment with the rest of your back.
- Perform A1 and A2 as a superset for 3 rounds. Rest 60 seconds between rounds.
- B1. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift x 10: These are just like typical deadlifts (see here for an explainer), except the Romanian style asks for straighter knees. Keep in mind that straighter knees usually mean the lower back rounds a bit earlier in the movement, so it’s OK if you don’t go down as far with the dumbbells in your hands. Use your heavy dumbbells for this. Hold a dumbbell in each hand while standing with feet shoulder-width apart. In a controlled motion and with a straight back, bend at the hips and lower the dumbbells; keep your arms straight. Squeeze the glutes and hamstrings to drive back up to the top position. Remember to brace your core and upper back to keep from slouching.
- B2. Dumbbell Z-Press x 10: Sit on the floor with your torso straight up and hold your medium-weight dumbbells at shoulder level. Spread the legs apart to ensure the torso remains tall and there’s no slouching or spinal curvature—think proud chest. While maintaining this posture, press the weights up overhead, similar to a typical military press. You have no back support, so continuously brace the core to maintain positioning. It’s harder than it sounds!
- Perform B1 and B2 as a superset for 3 rounds. Rest 60 seconds between rounds.
- C1. Dumbbell Reverse Lunge x 10 (each leg, alternating): Hold a dumbbell in each hand with feet shoulder-width apart. Extend one leg out backward and lower your body down—keep your torso straight and upright and bend the front knee forward as you descend. Use your front quad to drive back upward to the start position.
- C2. Single-Arm Dumbbell Snatch x 6 (each arm, alternating): Use a heavy dumbbell and hold it with one arm at shin level between the knees. Keep a perfectly flat spine, and bend the legs to a half-squat stance. In one big motion, “throw” the weight up to a full overhead position, using your arm as little as possible. This movement is led by the body and the momentum you put into the weight with your legs and torso. Finish in a tall overhead press position, and lower the weight to the shoulder before returning to the start position.
- Perform C1 and C2 as a superset for 3 rounds. Rest 90 seconds between rounds.
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