Bodyweight workouts can help you drop weight and build muscle. However, they become repetitive and less effective as time goes on. As you get stronger, bodyweight exercises won’t be as challenging. That’s when you need to add some weight.
Dumbbells are a great option — whether you work out at the gym or at home. Perhaps the best thing about dumbbells is their versatility. You can use them for upper- and lower-body exercises, and, best of all, you use your limbs independently when lifting dumbbells, which can help correct imbalances between your left and right sides.
To get a complete seven-minute workout with dumbbells, you need to be fully prepared before your timer starts. You can work most of the major muscle groups if you plan your exercise sequences carefully.
For your back muscles, you’ll have a pulling exercise, like the row. For your legs, try some type of squatting or deadlifting motion, along with a lunge or stepup, to hit the big muscles. Include a pressing motion for your chest, and you’ve hit most of the major muscle groups.
When you add resistance to a movement, the number of repetitions you can do naturally decreases. That’s why it helps to impose a rep count on your dumbbell workout. Rather than doing an exercise for a certain amount of time, you can count by repetitions.
YOUR 7-MINUTE TOTAL-BODY DUMBBELL WORKOUT
For this circuit, you’ll do AMRAP-style training, which means your goal is to complete as many rounds as possible. For each exercise, you’ll perform 10 reps before moving on. If the exercise is unilateral, meaning you work one side of the body at a time, perform 5 reps per side.
Once you complete all five exercises that counts as one round. Try to get through as many rounds as possible in seven minutes.
Jumping exercises help build explosive power from the legs that can help you run faster. The snatch is a jumping exercise that makes it easy to add resistance in the form of a dumbbell. Use a relatively light dumbbell for this exercise and perform 5 reps with each arm.
The move: Start standing with a dumbbell on the ground between your feet. The handle should be facing horizontally. Squat down and grip the dumbbell so your knuckles are facing forward. With your back flat, drive into the ground with your legs and explode up, like you’re trying to jump. As you extend up, pull the dumbbell up in front of your body.
Use momentum to fling the dumbbell up overhead. When you land, keep your knees bent to absorb the impact. Your arm should be straight overhead with your elbow locked out. Then, lower the weight to your shoulder and back to the ground.
3-POINT DUMBBELL ROW WITH BENCH
To work your back muscles, you’ll need a bench or some other flat, stable surface you can lean into. Use a dumbbell slightly heavier than what you had for the snatch and perform 5 reps on each arm.
The move: Place the dumbbell on the ground in front of you. Square your feet to the bench, bend your knees and stick your hips back. Keeping your back flat, pull the weight up from the ground until your thumb touches your ribs. Then, lower the dumbbell back to the ground and repeat.
DUMBBELL FRONT SQUAT
The front squat is traditionally a barbell exercise that helps you add weight to challenge your legs. Holding weight in front of your body helps you sit back in the squat, which makes it easier to get all the way down. However, it can be tough to hold the barbell up. Using dumbbells solves that problem and makes it easy to challenge your leg muscles. You’ll need two moderately heavy dumbbells for this move. Perform 10 reps.
The move: Grab two dumbbells and hold them by your sides. Swing the dumbbells up and hold them in front of your shoulders. One end of the dumbbell should rest on your shoulder so you’re not holding them with your arms. Squat down while keeping your elbows up and back flat. Go as low as you can, then stand back up.
DUMBBELL FLOOR PRESS
The bench press builds your chest, shoulders and triceps. However, a bench isn’t always available. Even if you have one, it’s nice to switch things up every once in a while. This exercise is different from the bench press because you can’t go as low. The ground stops you, taking away your momentum, which makes the exercise challenging in its own way. Try to use the same weight for this exercise that you used for the squats. Perform 10 repetitions.
The move: Grab two dumbbells and sit on the ground. Put the dumbbells on top of your thighs. Lie on your back and bring the dumbbells with you. Plant your feet on the ground so your knees are bent. Press the dumbbells up toward the ceiling until your elbows are locked. Then, lower them back to the ground and repeat.
Use a box or some other flat surface to step onto for this exercise. The higher the box, the harder the exercise. Avoid using a couch or other cushioned surface, because it can make your ankle and knee wobble. Use lighter dumbbells for this exercise and perform 5 reps on each side.
The move: Hold one dumbbell in each hand with your arms by your sides. Stand in front of the box. Place one foot on the box. Lean forward and step up to the top and plant both feet on the box. Step down with the same leg you used to step up and keep your other foot planted on the box. Repeat until you’ve completed 5 reps per leg.