10 August, 2018

Dumbbells are one of the most versatile and accessible pieces of equipment found in a gym. Do you remember the famous tag line, “if you’ve got a door, you’ve got a gym”? Well, the same thing applies with a set of dumbbells.

Not only are they extremely practical, they can be seriously effective in building muscle, increasing strength and enhancing overall conditioning. They allow for a greater range of motion during exercises, add negative resistance to your training, and ensure your body remains in balance by making both sides work independently.

While dumbbells are often used for joint-isolation exercises, such as bicep curls, chest flyes or shoulder raises, they can also be used for compound full body movements. So whether you have limited access to equipment, want to be able to do a full body workout at home, or just want to add dumbbell exercises to your training regime, check out our complete dumbbell workout below:

Strong black male picking up dumbbells from selection of free weights in gym, ready for workout

Dumbbell Lunges:

  • Stand holding dumbbells at your sides
  • Step forward and lower your body until your front knee is bent 90 degrees.
  • Pause, then push up and back to the starting position – keep head and chest up throughout movement

Dumbbell Goblet Squats:

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart and feet slightly pointed outwards
  • Hold a single dumbbell with both hands, with the head of the dumbbell close to your chest
  • Place body weight back on the heel of both feet and lower butt to the ground as though sitting back on a chair – maintain neutral spine, keep chest up and feet flat on floor

Dumbbell Step Ups:

  • Stand up straight while holding a dumbbell on each hand
  • Step on a raised platform by extending the hip and the knee of your right leg (this could be a step on a staircase or anything sturdy).
  • Use the heel of the leading foot to lift the rest of your body up and place the foot of the left leg on the platform as well
  • Step down in the reverse manner, and then repeat on other leg

Bent-Over Rows:

  • With a dumbbell in each hand, bend your knees slightly and bring your torso forward by bending at the waist
  • Pull dumbbells towards the belly button, keeping elbows close to the side of the body
  • On the top contracted position, squeeze the back muscles and hold for a second – lower to starting position under control and repeat

Chest Flyes:

  • Position body supine on a bench with feet on the ground
  • Start with dumbbells together above the body with elbows slightly bent and palms facing towards each other
  • Keeping the wrist, elbow and shoulder in alignment, lower the weight out to the sides of the body until a stretch is felt in the chest muscles – return to starting position under control and repeat

Bicep Curls:

  • Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand, with palms of your hands facing forward
  • Keeping elbows locked against your side, curl dumbbell in an arc upwards until bicep is fully contracted
  • Lower under control, keeping elbows by side and repeat

Lateral Raises:

  • Standing, feet shoulder width apart with dumbbell in each hand
  • Keeping the palms facing the floor and elbows slightly bent, raise the dumbbell away from the body in line with the shoulders until the dumbbell is slightly higher than the shoulder
  • Lower the dumbbell under control and repeat movement

Russian Twists:

  • Bend your legs at the knees and elevate your upper body so that it creates an imaginary V-shape with your thighs
  • While holding a dumbbell with both hands, twist your torso to the right side until your arms are parallel with the floor – hold the contraction for a second and then repeat on the left side

Sit Ups:

  • Lie flat on the floor with your knees bent, holding a single dumbbell to your chest with both hands
  • Use your upper abs to raise your torso, then lower slowly to the starting position and repeat


If you would like to learn more about these types of exercises and increase your overall health and fitness knowledge, check out our Cert III and IV in Fitness.

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