“I don’t have enough time.”
“I don’t belong to a gym.”
“Workout routines are overcomplicated.”
These (and many more) are common excuses and obstacles that tend to get in the way of a regular resistance training routine for the average person. Luckily, investing in a key piece of equipment can solve some of the most common objections to a consistent strength-training routine.
Dumbbells are one of the most versatile pieces of training equipment on the planet. They allow the user to gain strength, improve coordination, correct muscular imbalances, and move through space as our joints intend. They are available for purchase online and at nearly any sporting goods store. If they are not available, dumbbells can easily be replaced with canned foods, jugs of water, loaded backpacks, and many other household alternatives.
This short, simple and effective workout takes advantage of a single pair of dumbbells and can be performed at the gym, in a hotel fitness center, at home, or anywhere life takes you. With this routine, a lack of time should not be an excuse to keep you from achieving your fitness goals!
Complete 2 sets of 10 reps of each exercise (on each side, if applicable). Rest for 30–60 seconds between sets. After you feel confident with the correct form of each exercise, select a weight that makes the last few repetitions feel quite challenging, yet safe to complete.
DUMBBELL TURKISH GET-UP
This is the perfect exercise to begin your workout, as it takes you through all planes of motion while enhancing joint mobility, core stability and coordination.
The Move: Lie on your back, with a light-to-medium dumbbell in your right hand, held directly above your shoulder. With your right foot firmly planted flat into the floor and left arm out to your side, press the dumbbell up toward the ceiling while rolling to your left shoulder; roll onto your elbow, then roll onto your hand. Press your right foot firmly into the floor and drive your hips up into a hip press. With your hips elevated, tuck your left leg through to the front of your body, ending in a half-kneeling position. While keeping your eyes on the dumbbell, press through the floor to standing. Repeat the move in reverse to the starting position, and repeat on the other side.
Trainer note: Practice this exercise without any weights until each individual part of this move is mastered.
ALTERNATING DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS
This is a great exercise for your chest, shoulders and triceps. By using one arm at a time, your core also plays a major role.
The Move: Lie on a bench (or the floor), and hold a dumbbell in each hand on either side of your chest. Brace your core and press one dumbbell at a time toward the ceiling, lowering the dumbbell to about 1 inch above your chest.
Trainer note: Keep your core and glutes tight during this exercise to avoid arching your back.
This variation is a great introduction to the barbell deadlift, a valuable (but sometimes complicated) lower-body exercise.
The Move: Begin with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and stand above two dumbbells positioned vertically on their ends. Sink your hips down and back, grab the top of the dumbbells, brace through your core and return to a stand. Repeat this movement, gently tapping the dumbbells on the floor with each rep.
Trainer note: Ensure your lower back does not round, especially at the bottom of the movement. Practice standing sideways next to a mirror and make sure you maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement.
CLICK TO TWEET THIS ARTICLE > All you need is 20 minutes and a set of dumbbells for this full-body workout from @myfitnesspal. #fitness
DUMBBELL RENEGADE ROW
The plank is a gold-standard core exercise for enhancing spinal stabilization. By adding a row movement, upper-back strength and resistance to rotation are also necessary.
The Move: Begin in a straight, tight, high-plank position with your feet wide for support. While avoiding rotation, pull one dumbbell up at a time, squeezing behind the shoulder blade of the moving arm. Place the dumbbell back on the ground with control and switch sides.
Trainer note: Avoid letting your hips sag (especially during the row) to prevent low-back pain and potential injury.
FORWARD LUNGE WITH ROTATION
Adding a dumbbell rotation to your lunges not only adds resistance, but it also improves hip strength and core stability.
See how it’s done here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIZt8XO7jto.
The Move: Hold a dumbbell in both hands and extend your arms straight out in front of you. Step forward with your right leg and lower your body, so both knees form a 90-degree angle. Rotate your torso and arms to the right at the bottom of the lunge. Rotate your torso and arms back to the center, pull the dumbbell back into your chest and return to standing. Repeat on the opposite side.
Trainer note: Ensure your front knee stays aligned with the second toe on that foot during the lunge and rotation.
DUMBBELL SQUAT TO SHOULDER PRESS
Squats are a great lower-body exercise, and adding the dumbbell press helps improve power and engages the core.
The Move: Begin by holding two medium-weight dumbbells in your hands next to your ears. Drop your hips down and back, and drive through your glutes to stand up while thrusting the dumbbells into the air. Slowly return the dumbbells to the starting position and repeat.
Trainer note: Turn your palms toward your ears and have your elbows face slightly forward to avoid impingement at the shoulder joint.
For more fitness inspiration, check out “Workout Routines” in the app to discover and log a wide variety of routines by performance specialists. Or build your own routine with exercises that fit your goals.