a man lifting dumbbells

Dumbbells Exercises for Your Whole Body

Did you know that you can do a full body workout with just a simple pair of dumbbells? 

Well you can and I’m going to show you the most efficient exercises to perform in order to maximise muscle growth. 

Each muscle group is divided into a section with at least 3 core exercises.

Chest

Shoulders

Biceps

Forearms

Back

Trapezius

Triceps

Abs

Legs (glutes)

Legs (quadriceps)

Legs (hamstrings)

Legs (calves)

Why Use Dumbbells in the First Place?

Dumbbells have a lot of advantages over other machinery. 

However the main advantage is that with a pair of adjustable dumbbells and a weight bench, you can work your entire body from the comfort of your own home.

A lot of people don’t like to work out at a gym due to the a number of reasons:

  • You might not like the crowds or other people looking at you.
  • You don't like to waste your time standing in line.
  • You don't want to spend your time commuting to and from the gym.
  • Gym membership costs can add up over time.

Besides that, choosing dumbbells over other equipment has various benefits:

  • Lifting weights is the most efficient workout for long term fat burn.
  • There is an almost endless array of exercises available for targeting all your muscle groups.

Talking about exercises, that’s what brought you here in the first place, right?! Let’s move on with the general information about exercises and then it’s time to grab your dumbbells!

General information

  • You should do all of the exercises on this page at least 10-15 times in each rep.
  • All exercises should be done in 3 sets. So, if you choose to do 10 reps, you will do 30 of the exercise overall.
  • Always make sure that your movements are controlled, especially when lowering the weight: aim for at least 3 seconds.
  • Always do the full range of motion, or at least to the point that you are comfortable with.

CHEST MUSCLES

#1 Dumbbell Bench Press

Gear needed: a flat bench, a set of dumbbells

  • You need a flat bench for this exercise. Lay down flat on it. You should have a dumbbell in each hand. Rest the dumbbells on the top of your thighs. Point the palms of your hands towards each other.
  • Using your thighs, gently lift the dumbbells up. The thighs are only there to assist the hands at the start. Once you have the dumbbells at shoulder width, hold them in place.
  • Once in position, rotate your wrists so your palms are now facing away from you. Your upper arm and forearm should be at a 90 degree angle with the ends of the dumbbell resting on your chest.
  • Breathe out slowly, pushing the dumbbells up using your chest. Hold the dumbbells in position for no longer than a second and release. Remember to keep your movements slow and controlled.

#2 Incline Dumbbell Press

Gear needed: an inclined bench, a set of dumbbells

  • You will need an incline bench for this exercise. Lay on it, with a dumbbell in each hand, resting on your thighs. The palms should be facing one another.
  • Use your thighs to push the dumbbells up gently. Raise them until the two dumbbells are shoulder width apart.
  • Rotate your wrists. Your palms should now be facing away from you.
  • Lift up the dumbbells until your arm is fully extended. Use your chest to do so. When having reached the position, keep it for a second.
  • Lower your arms back down to the thighs using double the time that you used for raising the dumbbells.
  • Repeat the last two steps for the number of reps that you are planning to do.
  • When you have finished, lower the dumbbells first on your thighs and next up on the floor. This way you will make sure you will not hurt yourself.

#3 Dumbbell Flyes

Gear needed: a flat bench, a set of dumbbells

  • For this exercise, you will need a flat bench. You should have a dumbbell in each hand, resting on each of your thighs. Keep your palms facing one another for now.
  • Use your thighs to assist you in raising the dumbbells. You should be holding them shoulder width apart. Keep the palms of your hands facing one another.
  • Raise the dumbbells up, almost as if you are doing a press. However, do not extend them fully. There should be the slightest of bends in your elbow remaining.
  • Make sure you keep this slight bend, because now you are going to move your hands gradually to each side of your body in an arc. Inhale while performing this movement.
  • You should feel a stretch in your chest. As soon as you feel that stretch, stop the movement and hold the position. The key point to remember is that the movement should only happen in the shoulder joint.
  • Move your arms back to your starting position. You should be squeezing your chest muscles at the same time. Keep the arc of motion the same as when you were lowering the weights. Hold the position for a second.
  • Repeat for as many reps as you plan to do.

#4 Incline Dumbbell Fly

Gear needed: an inclined bench, a set of dumbbells

  • You will need to be laying on an incline bench for this exercise. Make sure that the incline is set to 30 degrees at the maximum.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Extend the dumbbells with your hands above you. There should be the slightest of bend in your elbows.
  • Rotate your wrists slowly. The palms of your hands should end up facing you.
  • Inhale. Lower your arms, extended, down to the sides. As you do, you should be rotating your wrists so the palms on each hand are facing one another.
  • Reverse the motion as you bring the dumbbells back into position. Breathe in while you do this.
  • You should not be moving your elbows at any point. The do the exercise correctly, move only the shoulder joint and the wrist.

#5 Straight-Arm Dumbbell Pullover

Gear needed: a flat bench, a dumbbell

  • Start by placing a dumbbell on a flat bench. It should be standing up.
  • Lay across the bench. Only your shoulders should be on the bench. The head should be off the bench. The hips should be placed below the bench, and your feet should be placed on the floor in a fixed position.
  • Grab the dumbbell with both hands at once. Hold it over your chest. Keep it at arms’ length. Your palms should be pressing against the bottom of the dumbbell.
  • It is vital that the dumbbell does not have any loose plates in order to keep the exercise safe.
  • As you inhale, lower the weight above your head. Keep the movement slow. You should stop as soon as you feel a stretch in your chest.
  • Breathe out as you move the weight back into the starting position.
  • Do both movements in an arc.
  • If you can, you should use a spotter for this exercise. It is one of the hardest of the starter exercises for dumbbells, and if you are not holding the weight securely, there is a chance it will fall on your face.

#6 Pushups with Dumbbells

Gear needed: a set of dumbbells

  • Place two dumbbells on the floor. It doesn’t really matter what weight they are as you will not be lifting them, they are there to keep your wrists in position.
  • Put one hand on each dumbbell.
  • Use the dumbbells to do a push up. Breathe in while going down and breathe out while coming back up.
  • Keep the body in a contracted position for a second or two between the pushups.
  • It is important that you do not use ’round’ dumbbells here, because there is a chance they could roll around which could cause serious pain.

SHOULDER MUSCLES

#1 Seated Dumbbell Press

Gear needed: a bench to sit on, a set of dumbbells

  • You will need two dumbbells for this exercise, plus a bench that you are able to sit up on. In theory, you could also do this exercise on a chair, but you will find that an upright bench is going to be a bit more comfortable to sit on.
  • Using your thigh, move the dumbbells up to shoulder height on each side of your body.
  • Rotate your wrists as you do this. Your palms should be facing forward. This is the position you can call your starting position.
  • From this starting position, move the dumbbells upwards so that they touch above your head. Breathe out while you do this. Hold for a second or two, then move them back down.

#2 Seated Side Lateral Raise

Gear needed: a flat bench, a set of dumbbells

  • You will need a flat bench for this exercise. Sit right at the end of it. Your feet should be firmly on the floor. Dumbbells should be on either side of you.
  • Grab the dumbbells. Your palms should be facing inwards, and your arms should be straight down.
  • Do not move your body. Just lift the dumbbells to your side. There should be a slight bend in your elbows as you do so.Do not move your body. Just lift the dumbbells to your side. There should be a slight bend in your elbows as you do so.
  • Now, move your elbows until your arms are now parallel to the floor. Do so while breathing out. Pause when you get to the top.
  • Lower the dumbbells back to the position where your arms were close to the floor. This is your starting position. Keep doing your assigned number of reps.

#3 Reverse Fly

Gear needed: an inclined bench, a set of dumbbells

  • Start by laying down on a bench. The bench needs to be inclined. Your chest and stomach will be pushed up against the back of the bench. Have a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Now, extend your arms. They should be moved up so that they are in line with the angle of the bench. Your legs should remain in the same position at all times. The pressure should be on your toes. This will be the position that you start in.
  • While keeping a slight bend in the elbows, move the weights outwards and away from each other. You should be making an arc motion. Breathe out while you do so.
  • If you want to get more out of this exercise, then you can squeeze your shoulder blades together as you move the dumbbells.
  • Breathe in and move back to the starting position. Keep the movement slow and controlled.

#4 Side Lateral Raise

Gear needed: a set of dumbbells

  • You will need a dumbbell in each hand for this exercise. Stand up straight. Dumbbells should be by your side in each hand. The palms of your hands should be facing your body.
  • Make sure that your body stays straight at all times. Now, lift the dumbbells to the side. Keep a small bend in your elbows. The hands should be tilted forward, almost as if you are pouring yourself a nice bit of milk into your protein shake after this exercise. Breathe out as you do this. Hold for a second once you reach the top of the movement.
  • As you lower your hands back into position, breathe out.
  • Repeat the movement for the number of reps you plan to do.

#5 Standing Dumbbell Press

Gear needed: a set of dumbbells

  • Stand with your feet apart. They should be about shoulder width. You will need to have a dumbbell in each hand. Raise them to the height of your head. Keep your elbows out and bent at a right angle (about 90 degrees).
  • Extend your elbows fully so the weights are above your head. Make sure you don’t lean back when you do so.
  • Keep the position for a second and move back to the initial position.

#6 Front Dumbbell Raise

Gear needed: a set of dumbbells

  • Grab yourself a couple of dumbbells and put them at arm’s length in front of your thighs. Your palms should be facing in towards your body.
  • Hold your body stationary at all times. Now, start by lifting the left dumbbell in front of you. There should be an ever so slight bend in your elbow as you do. The palms of your hands should be facing downwards. Move your arm up until the arm is basically parallel to the floor. You may want to raise it slightly above this, in fact. As you do this, make sure that you exhale. Only pause for a single second and then inhale.
  • As you move the left arm back slowly down into starting position, start to raise your right arm.
  • Both your right and left arm being raised will count as a single repetition.

#7 Single Dumbbell Raise

Gear needed: a dumbbell

  • You will need only one dumbbell for this exercise. Hold your legs fairly wide apart. Grasp the dumbbell with both hands. The hands should be hanging around the waist, so this means that your arm will need to be extended.
  • Raise the dumbbell until you get to shoulder level. Make sure your body and hips remain stationary at all times.
  • Keep the position for a second and return slowly to the initial position.

#8 One-Arm Incline Lateral Raise

Gear needed: an inclined bench, a dumbbell

  • Lay on your side on an incline bench. A dumbbell should be in your hand. Your arm should lay across the body, shoulder pressed up against your body. The dumbbell should be in the arm on top of you.
  • Now, move your arm up and do a lateral raise. Breathe out as you do. The arm should end up pointing towards the ceiling.
  • Keep the position for a second and then slowly return to the starting position. Breathe in as you do.
  • Repeat the same movement with the other arm.

#9 Upright Row

Gear needed: a set of dumbbells

  • Grab a dumbbell in each of your hands. Hold them with an overhand grip. Keep them shoulder width apart.
  • Use your shoulders to lift the dumbbells to the side. Keep lifting slowly until your arms are parallel to the floor. It is your elbows which will be doing most of the work here. At no point should you be moving your body. This is going to be almost like a rowing movement, so eventually your elbows will be at a right angle. Breathe out as you move up.
  • Keep the position for a moment. Inhale while you move slowly back to the starting position.
  • Remember to keep the dumbbells close to your body as you perform this movement.

BICEPS

#1 Incline Dumbbell Curl

Gear needed: an inclined bench, a set of dumbbells

  • You will need an incline bench for this exercise. While holding a dumbbell in each of your hands sit back on the bench.
  • Keep your hands at arms’ length and turn your palms until they face forward, at the same time trying to keep your elbows as close to your torso as possible.
  • Curl the weights up, exhale at the same time with contracting your biceps. Keep the top of your arm in place, the movement should occur in the lower part of your arm.
  • Keep on moving until the dumbbells reach the level of your shoulders, keep on contracting your biceps and hold the final position for at least a second.
  • While inhaling move slowly back to the initial position.

#2 Seated Dumbbell Curl

Gear needed: a flat bench, a set of dumbbells

  • You will need a flat bench to sit on. Sit near the end, with a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your elbows as close to your body as possible, and hold the two dumbbells at arm’s length, pointed towards the floor.
  • Slowly rotate your hands so that the palms are facing in towards your body.
  • Hold your upper arm in the same position at all times. Start to curl the weights. As your dumbbells get close to your thighs, the palms of your hands should be facing into the movement that you are doing. You should be contracting your biceps and, remember, only the forearms should be moving.
  • Once you arrive to the shoulder level, keep the position for at least a second while squeezing your biceps. Then move the hands back into the starting position, slowly. Rotate your wrists so the palms are back to the starting position too.

#3 Dumbbell Bicep Curl

Gear needed: a set of dumbbells

  • Start by standing up straight. You should have a dumbbell in each hand. The palms should be facing forward. Keep the dumbbells at arm’s length. Make sure your elbows are pulled in close to your body.
  • While keeping the top half of your arms stationary, curl the dumbbells in towards your body. Exhale and contract your biceps as you do. Curl the weights as far as you feel comfortable. However, it is unlikely that your biceps will be fully contracted until you are at around shoulder level. Once you are here, hold the position for about a second before returning back to the starting position. Inhale as you return to the starting position.

#4 Dumbbell Alternate Bicep Curl

Gear needed: a set of dumbbells

  • Start by standing up straight. There should be a dumbbell in each hand at arm’s length. Make sure that your elbows are kept in close to your body. The palms of your hands need to be facing in towards your thighs.
  • Keep your upper arm in the same position at all times. Curl the weight of your right hand. Rotate the palm as you do. It should end up facing inwards. Keep curling until your arm is at shoulder level. Hold this position for a second or two. Squeeze the biceps as you do.
  • Rotate the dumbbell back to the starting position. Go slowly as to not overextend yourself. Don’t forget to bring your palms back to facing your thighs.
  • Do the same with the left hand. The combination of the left and right hand will equal a single rep.

#5 Cross Body Hammer Curl

Gear needed: a set of dumbbells

  • You need to stand up straight for this exercise. There should be a dumbbell in each hand. Hands should be placed by your side with the palms facing inwards, towards your body.
  • Keep your palms facing in at all times. Do not twist your arms at any point. Now, curl the right arm up towards your shoulder. Breathe out as you do. As soon as the dumbbell hits your shoulder, hold it in position for a single second and then release.
  • Lower the dumbbell the same way. Go slow, but not too slow. As you lower it, you should be breathing out.
  • Do the same with the left hand. Doing both arms counts as a single rep.

#6 Dumbbell Wrist Curls

Gear needed: a set of dumbbells

  • Stand up straight. Have a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your arms extended, but make sure that your elbows are pulled in close to your body.
  • Curl your forearm in while keeping your upper arms in place. You want to do this until the dumbbells reach your shoulder level. Breathe out as you do this.
  • Hold in position for one second at the same time squeezing your biceps. Then return to your starting position. Keep the movement slow and controlled. Breathe in as you do.

#7 Concentration Curls

Gear needed: a flat bench, a dumbbell

  • You will need a flat bench for this exercise. Sit at the end of it. A dumbbell should be placed between your legs in front of you. Spread your legs with your knees bent. Keep your feet firmly only the floor.
  • Now, use your right arm to grab the dumbbell. Take the back of the right upper arm and place it on the top of the inside of the right thigh. Move the palm of your hand until it faces away from your thigh.
  • Do an arm curl while contracting your biceps. Exhale as you do this. Make sure that you are only moving your forearm and nothing else. As you reach shoulder level, keep the position for a second while squeezing your biceps.
  • While inhaling lower your arm back to the initial position. Keep the movement slow and controlled.
  • After completing the desired amount of repetitions, switch the arm

#8 Spider Curl with Dumbbells

Gear needed: an inclined bench, a set of dumbbells

  • Get an incline bench and lay down on it. You will need to make sure that your feet are on the floor so you can remain stable. Your arms should be 90 degrees to the floor.
  • Curl with the dumbbells until you feel a stretch in your biceps. Your arms should not move at the top.
  • Hold, then return to your starting position.

#9 Standing One-Armed Dumbbell Curl over Incline Bench

Gear needed: an inclined bench, a dumbbell

  • Have the incline bench in position and stand behind it. Grab a dumbbell in one of your hands and rest it along the back of the bench. Your palms should be facing up.
  • Place the hand you are not lifting with at the corner of the incline bench. Press your chest up against the incline of the bench and keep your feet steady on the floor. They should be at a wider stance. This is the position that you will be starting in.
  • Hold your upper arm in a place. Curl the dumbbell upwards towards you. You should only be moving your forearm. Hold in position (when the dumbbell reaches shoulder level) for a single second. Exhale and squeeze your biceps as you perform this movement.
  • While inhaling lower the weight back to the initial position. Keep the movement slow and controlled.
  • Perform the intended amount of repetitions and switch your arm.

FOREARMS

#1 Palms-Up Dumbbell Wrist Curl over a Bench

Gear needed: a flat bench, a dumbbell

  • Get a flat bench and place two dumbbells on the same side of the bench.
  • Kneel down on the same side these dumbbells are on. Your body should be facing towards the bench.Kneel down on the same side these dumbbells are on. Your body should be facing towards the bench.
  • Grab the dumbbells from underneath. This means that your palms should be facing upwards.
  • Gently lift the forearms until they are resting on the front bench. Your wrists should be hanging over the side of the bench.
  • Curl your wrists. As you do, breathe out.
  • Lower your wrists. As you do, breathe in.
  • At no point should anything other than the wrists on your hands be moving. If you are moving your forearms, it means that you are doing the exercise incorrectly.

#2 Palms-Down Dumbbell Wrist Curl over a Bench

Gear needed: a flat bench, a dumbbell

  • You should have two dumbbells placed on the same side of a flat bench.
  • Kneel down on the same side that you have placed the dumbbells on. You should be facing towards the flat bench.
  • Face your palms down and grab the dumbbells. Bring them upwards so that your forearms are on the flat bench. Make sure that your wrists are hanging over the side of the bench.
  • Curl your wrists up. As you do, breathe out. Hold this position for around a second.
  • Lower your wrists down again. Breathe in as you do this. It is important that you do not move anything but your wrists at this point. If you are moving your arms to carry the weight, you are doing the exercise wrong. If you can’t lift the weight without your arms, then lower the weight.
  • Repeat the exercise for the number of reps you have planned to do. It is important that you take this exercise slow, because it is difficult to curl your wrists and only your wrists.

BACK MUSCLES

#1 One-Arm Dumbbell Row

Gear needed: a flat/inclined bench, a dumbbell

  • Get a flat or inclined bench. You should place one dumbbell on each side of the bench.
  • Place your right leg on top of the bench. It should be near the end.
  • Bend at the waist. Your body should be parallel to the ground. You may need to place your right hand on the bench to provide you with additional support.
  • Grab the dumbbell with your left hand. Hold the weight, the palm of your hand facing your body. Remember to keep your lower back straight.
  • Pull the weight up so it reaches the side of your chest. Do your best to keep your body steady. As you do this, you will need to exhale. You will need to focus on squeezing your back muscles during this exercise. There should not be anything in your arms. Your back muscles are putting the work in here.
  • Move back to the starting position while inhaling.
  • Repeat this exercise for the number of reps you plan to do. Once you have done your sets, switch legs and arms to do the exercise with the other side of your body.

#2 Dumbbell Incline Row

Gear needed: an inclined bench, a set of dumbbells

  • You will need an incline bench for this. Lean onto it.
  • Take a single dumbbell in each hand. Hold. Keep your arms straight down.
  • Lift at the shoulder blades, flexing your elbows. Essentially, rowing with them. You should move the dumbbells up to your sides. Keep the contraction for a second and then move your hands back down to the position that you started in.

#3 Butt Lift

Gear needed: a dumbbell

  • You do not need to use a dumbbell for this exercise, but since it will add a bit of extra resistance as you do, it may be worth using one…just to make the exercise a little bit more difficult and give you more of a workout. If you are going to be using a dumbbell, then it should be placed on your waist. Make sure that it is not too heavy.
  • Lie down flat on the floor. Your hands should be by your sides. Your knees should be bent. Try and keep your feet about shoulder width apart. If you are using the dumbbell, then it should be now placed on your waist.
  • Using your heels, push yourself up so your hips are off of the floor. You should be keeping your back straight at all times. Once you have reached as far as you can go, hold the position for a second before you return down to the floor. Exhale as you move up and inhale as you return to the starting position.

#4 Dumbbell Deadlift

Gear needed: a set of dumbbells

  • Your feet should be hip width apart. Hold the dumbbells in front of your hips. Your palms should be facing towards your thighs.
  • Keep your shoulder blades squeezed together. Your back should be straight. Now, bend your hip towards your knees. Stop as soon as your body is parallel to the floor. Only go down as far as you can. Breathe in as you do this.
  • Exhale as you return to your standing position. Remember to keep the dumbbells close to your body at all times.
  • As you reach the starting position, extend your hips and knees.

TRAPEZIUS

#1 Dumbbell Shrugs

Gear needed: a set of dumbbells

  • Stand up. One dumbbell should be in each hand. Your palms should be facing towards the side of your body. Keep your arms nice and extended.
  • Lift the dumbbells as high as you can by ’shrugging’ your shoulders i.e. just lifting your shoulders up. Do not lift your arms. Keep them extended at all times. Exhale as you do this.
  • After keeping the position for a second, return to the starting position as you inhale.

#2 Traps on an Incline Bench

GIF 59 Puudu

Gear needed: an inclined bench, a set of dumbbells

  • Lay down on a bench with an incline. Your legs should be on the floor to help stabilize you. You should have a dumbbell in each arm. Lock your elbows in place. Your shoulder blades should be contracted.
  • Bring your arms up straight. This will form a straight line with your body.
  • Hold in position for a second and then lower back into your starting position.

LOWER BACK

#1 Birddog with Dumbbell

Gear needed: a dumbbell

  • Get on all fours. Your hands should be under your shoulders. Your knees should be under your hips.
  • You do not need to use a dumbbell for this, but you can use it if you want extra weight. If you are using a dumbbell, place it in the hand that you are currently exercising.
  • Now, make sure that your back, chest and hips remain in position. Move your right arm forward and your left leg backwards. Do not rock. Pull those abs in. You should feel the movement in the back of your leg and your buttock.
  • Return to the position you started in after holding this position for a second. Repeat with the other leg. Congratulations, you have now completed a single rep.

#2 Romanian Deadlift and Dumbbell Row Combo

Gear needed: a set of dumbbells

  • Get yourself into a standing position. You should have a dumbbell in each hand. Your back should be straight. It should remain straight throughout this entire exercise.
  • Flex your hips. Push your butt back as far as it can go. Your hips should be moving horizontally. You should only be bending your knees slightly. Your body weight should be on your heels. Keep moving your butt back until you feel tension in the hamstrings. Your arms should be moving down to knee level. You are now in your starting position.
  • Lift the dumbbells on your side as you exhale. Keep your elbows close to your body as you do. Your upper arm is doing the work here. Once your arm muscles are contracted, squeeze your back muscles, hold for a second and inhale as you slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat this exercise the required number of times. Make sure that you do not push your butt too far back here. You are working your arms, not that part of your body and you do not want to cause yourself unnecessary injury.

TRICEPS

#1 Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension

Gear needed: a flat bench, a set of dumbbells

  • For this you will need a flat bench. You will need to lay down on it, holding two dumbbells. The arms should be fully extended creating a 90-degree angle from your torso. Keep your palms facing inwards. This is the position you will be starting in.
  • Keep the top part of your arm stationary.
  • Inhale slowly. As you do, move the weights down, close to your ears.
  • Use your triceps to bring the weight back to the starting position while you exhale.

#2 Bench Dips

Gear needed: a flat bench, a dumbbell

  • You do not even need a dumbbell for this exercise, but if you have one handy, it is going to be a lot better as a workout. However, test it out without the dumbbell first, just to get a feel for how it all works. If you do decide to use a weight, then it should be held in the same way that it is being held in the example i.e. between your legs. Do not hold it any other way or you do run the risk of dropping it.
  • Position yourself to the side of the bench. Your back will need to be facing the bench, which will run perpendicular to it. Now is the time to place the dumbbell in between your legs if you are planning to use it. Try to use a smaller weight to begin with, this exercise can be hard enough already.
  • Hold onto the bench with your arms behind your back. Try and get as close to the bench as you possibly can. The arms should be shoulder width apart. Your legs will be extended out forwards, and you should be bent at the waist.
  • Lower your body down. Breathe in as you do. This should create an angle which is a bit under 90 degrees between your forearm and your upper arm.
  • Push yourself back into the starting position using your triceps.

#3 Standing Bent-Over One-Arm Dumbbell Triceps Extension

Gear needed: a dumbbell

  • You will need a dumbbell in one hand for this exercise. The palm should be facing into your body. Your knees will need to be bent over so slightly. Your body will need to be bent too. Make sure that you keep your back straight as you bend. You should end up with your body being parallel to the floor. Keep your head pointed up.
  • Your upper arm should be pulled in close to your body and in line with the floor. The forearm is going to be facing the floor. Make sure that the forearm and the upper arm form a 90-degree angle. This is going to be the position that you start in.
  • While keeping your upper arm still, use your triceps to lift the weight until your arm is fully extended. You should be breathing out as you lift the weight. Keep the contraction for a second before you move back to the starting position. Breathe in and keep the movement slow and controlled.
  • Perform repetitions first with one arm, then switch the arms.

#4 Standing One-Arm Dumbbell Triceps Extension

Gear needed: a dumbbell

  • Start with a dumbbell in one hand. Stand up straight, legs should be shoulder width apart. With the palm of your hand facing forward, lift the weight above your head. Obviously, make sure that the weight is not too heavy, because you do run the risk of dropping it. If there is any looseness on the dumbbell, then do not use it for this exercise.
  • Lower your forearm behind your head so that the weight touches your bicep. Make sure that you are inhaling as you do this motion. Keep your upper arm in position close to your head while you perform this movement, do not move it.
  • Use your triceps to move the back to the initial position. Remember to exhale when you do.
  • Switch arms and do the same exercise. Once you have exercised both arms, this counts as a single rep.

#5 Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension

Gear needed: a dumbbell

  • Start in a standing position. You should hold a dumbbell with both of your hands. Make sure that you keep your legs shoulder width apart.
  • Move the dumbbells above your head until your arms are fully extended. It should go without saying that you should only be lifting weights that you feel comfortable with above your head due to the risk of dropping them. Make sure that your palms are facing towards the ceiling and thumbs are wrapped around the dumbbell.
  • Now, move your forearm in an almost semi-circular motion so that the end of the weight touches your biceps. Inhale as you do. Remember not to move your upper arms during this exercises, all the work should be done by your forearms.
  • Using your triceps move back to the initial position. Exhale as you do.

#6 Triceps Dumbbell Kickback

Gear needed: a flat bench, a dumbbell

  • Support one of your knees on a flat bench and stand on the other leg. Take a dumbbell in the hand on the same side. Keep your back straight.
  • Bend forward at the waist. Keep bending forward until your body is parallel to the floor and support your your other arm on the bench. Your upper arm should be parallel to the floor but at the same time it should be kept close to your body. It should form a 90-degree angle with your forearm that is holding the weight.
  • Now, use your triceps to lift the weights until your arm is fully extended behind you. The movement should be in the forearm. Breathe out as you do this.
  • Hold in this position, then slowly return to the starting position while you breathe in.

#7 Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension, Palms Facing Up

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Gear needed: a dumbbell

  • Start by laying down on a flat bench. You should have a dumbbell in each hand, held up in front of you. Your arms should be at a 90-degree angle with the palms facing upwards. Tuck your elbows in. This is the position that you are going to be starting in.
  • While keeping the upper arms in position, lower the weights until they are on your chest. Inhale as you do.
  • Make sure that you keep your elbows tucked in and the top of your arms stationary as you move the arms back into the starting position. Your triceps should be helping you to complete this motion. Exhale as you perform this.
  • You should be extra careful when choosing the weights for this exercise in order to avoid any injury. If you suffer from elbow injuries, this is not an exercise that you should be performing.

ABS

#1 Russian Twist

Gear needed: a dumbbell

  • Lay down on the floor. Have your legs fully extended. Now, move your upper body into an upright position. You will need one dumbbell for this. Wrap your palms around the dumbbell and hold it in front of you. There should be a slight bend in your arms, but not too much.
  • Lift your legs off the ground. There should be a slight bend in your knee. You will need to move your back slightly to ensure that you are balanced.
  • Move the dumbbell to the left until you touch the floor with it. Exhale as you do this. Then move back to the starting position while inhaling.
  • Now, repeat the motion to the right. Remember to keep your movements slow and controlled.
  • A move to the left and to the right will count as a single rep.

#2 Crunches/sit-ups

Gear needed: a dumbbell

  • Lay down on the floor. Keep your feet together. This is important. If you have a resistance band, you will be able to keep the feet together. Bend the knees.
  • Now, you do not have to use a dumbbell for this exercise, and if you have never done crunches before, you probably shouldn’t do so. However, if you do use a dumbbell, hold a comfortable weight in your hands. It will add a touch of extra resistance.
  • Now, move your chest upwards. You should be moving towards the hips. Make sure that your lower back stays on the ground and your feet stay pushed together.
  • Return yourself to the starting position.

#3 Mountain Climbers

Gear needed: a set of dumbbells

  • Get yourself into a plank position. The hands should be on the weights. The reason why you are resting on weights as opposed to your hands is because it helps to reduce wrist pain. It will also help to ensure you are a bit more stable. Keep your body weight on your toes.
  • Now, using the knee of your left leg, bring it up under your chest. Return to the starting position and switch and bring the right leg forward. Remember to use your core muscles when you do this exercise.
  • As you start doing this, you can speed up. By the end of it, it will almost feel as if you are running or climbing a mountain as the exercise says.

#4 Plank With Dumbbell

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Gear needed: a dumbbell

  • Get yourself into a position that makes it seem as if you are about to do a push-up. Make sure that your spine is straight. You do this by ensuring that your back, butt, and back are aligned with each other. Do your best to ensure that your body is nice and stable by engaging your core and glutes.
  • Grab the dumbbell with your right hand and bring it under you on the right side, drop it, grab it with your left hand and bring it under you on the left side.
  • Now grab the dumbbell again with your right hand and bring it in front of you on the right side, drop it and grab it with your left hand to bring it in front of you on the left side.
  • All of this will count as one repetition.

#5 Dumbbell Side Bend

Gear needed: a dumbbell

  • Stand up nice and straight. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand. The palm of your hand should be facing towards the side of your body. The right hand should be placed on your waist while your feet should be shoulder width apart.
  • Now, keep your back as straight as you can, and your head pointed up. Bend at the waist to your right side. Only go as far as you can go. Do not overextend yourself or you will run the risk of injury. Inhale as you do this. Hold for a second, then return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the same motion to the left. The two combined will count as a single rep. Change hands. Once you have done the same amount of reps with the weight in the other hand, you will have completed a set.

LEG MUSCLES (GLUTES)

#1 Hamstring Hip Raises

Gear needed: an elevated platform, a dumbbell

  • You will need an elevated platform for this exercise. Your feet should be placed on it while you are laying on the ground. Your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle. This will allow a greater range of motion.
  • You do not need to use a dumbbell for this, but for extra weight, place it in the hip area.
  • Raise your hips to form a line from your knees to your shoulders. You are basically pulling your heels towards you as you do this.

#2 Dumbbell Hip Thrust

Gear needed: a flat bench, a dumbbell

  • You will need a bench for this. You will want to be laying with your shoulder blades on it so that your body is parallel to the ground.
  • Your knees should be bent at 90 degrees.
  • Your dumbbell, if you are using one, should be on the hips. Keep your chin pressed up against your chest.
  • Lower your hips. Keep your spine straight as you do. You accomplish this by raising your shoulders at the same time. Do not overextend your back as this will cause pain. You should be pushing up from the heels.
  • Return to the starting position.

#3 Dumbbell Hip Thrust with One Leg

Gear needed: a flat bench, a dumbbell

  • You need a flat bench for this one. Place your shoulder blades on the bench and keep your body parallel to the floor. Make sure that your knees are at a 90 degree angle.
  • You do not need to use a dumbbell for this exercise, but if you do, it should be placed on your hips for a little extra weight.
  • Raise one leg so your hips are parallel to the ground. Remember to keep the chin pressed up against your chest.
  • Hold in position for one second before returning to your starting position.
  • Tip: use your heel to push the hips up.
  • Repeat the movement for the desired amount of reps and switch legs.

#4 Side Leg Raises

Gear needed: a flat bench, a dumbbell

  • You can do this exercise on the floor or a bench. Either way, you will need to be on your side.
  • Place the dumbbell on your thigh to add a bit of extra weight.
  • Lift your leg slowly, as far as you can. Hold in position, then return to the starting position.
  • Tip: keep the other leg bent to keep yourself in balance.
  • Complete the exercise first with one leg and then switch to the other.

LEG MUSCLES (QUADRICEPS)

#1 Dumbbell Pistol Squat

Gear needed: a flat bench, a dumbbell

  • Get yourself into a standing position in front of a flat bench. You will need one dumbbell for this. Hold it in your hands. Both hands should be placed on top of it, and the dumbbell should be held at around shoulder level in the middle of your chest.
  • Raise one of your feet. It should be an inch or two up from the floor. Remember; the higher you have it, the less balance you have, so it is important that you do not go too highly when you are carrying weights.
  • Make sure that you are facing forwards. Your chest should be ’puffed out’. Your knees should be ever so slightly bent. Your hips too.
  • Now, move down into a squat. It is important that you move down slowly, particularly if this is the first time you have ever done the exercise. Remember; one of your feet should not be touching the floor. You will need to move the leg that is touching the floor ever so slightly. If you do not, then you will lose balance. It is unlikely that you will be able to move into a full squatting position when you do this exercise, but try and get as close to it as you possibly can. You will notice that your flexibility increases over time.
  • Do the number of reps that you have told yourself that you are going to do, then you should swap your legs. Doing the exercise on both legs will equal one set.

#2 Dumbbell Step Ups

Gear needed: a step, a set of dumbbells

  • For this exercise, you will need a step. You can use the stairs in your house, but a proper exercise step is going to be much better for you. Our example uses a bench, although some people may find this to be a little bit too high. Make sure that you have a dumbbell in each hand. The palms should be facing in towards your legs.
  • Step up onto the platform using your right leg. Make sure that your hip and knee of this leg are fully extended. You should be using the heel to move your body upwards. Once your right leg is place, use the heel of your left leg to move onto the step too.
  • Step down using your left leg at first, followed by the right leg. Make sure that you breathe in as you do. Try not to go too fast with this exercise, as it is important that your second leg is putting ’effort’ into moving up onto the step. It may take a while to get comfortable with this exercise.
  • Once you have done your 10-15 ’step-ups’ repeat the exercise with the other leg.

#3 Plie Dumbbell Squat

Gear needed: a dumbbell

  • Hold a dumbbell at the bottom with both of your hands. You will need to be standing position. Your legs should be spread slightly wider than shoulder width. Your knees should be ever so slightly bent. Point your toes outwards. It is important that you are not moving your arms at any point during this exercise.
  • Now, bend your knees just like you are doing a squat. You should be going down as far as you can. However, ideally, your thighs should be parallel to the floor. However, it is going to take you a while to get back to this point, particularly if you are not used to doing squats. If it is too difficult, then you may want to change the size of the weight that you are using. Remember to inhale when you perform this part of the exercise.
  • Push the heel of your foot to allow your body to move back into the position you started in. Doing fifteen of these is going to be tough, so make sure that you take things nice and slowly to ensure you can complete your reps.

#4 Dumbbell Goblet Squat

Gear needed: a dumbbells

  • You will need to be in a standing position for this. Hold the top of a single dumbbell close to your chest. You will need to use both hands for this exercise. So, cross your palms on top of the dumbbell.
  • Start by looking straight forward and keep your shoulders back. Your spine needs to be as straight as possible, and your feet should be a little bit out of your shoulder width.
  • Now, do a squat like you would normally do. However, only go as far as you are comfortable in going. Normally, you should be moving until your legs are completely parallel to the floor, but this is likely going to be uncomfortable if you are not used to doing this exercise, or if you are using weights which are slightly too heavy. Adjust yourself however you see fit.
  • You should feel a pull in your legs as you descend. If you can’t feel that pull, then you are not doing the exercise correctly. Keep the position for a second when you have reached the bottom.
  • Move slowly back to the initial position. Use your heels to extend your knees and hips.
  • Going down and moving upwards will count as a single repetition of this exercise.

#5 Dumbbell Lunges

Gear needed: a set of dumbbells

  • Start by standing upright. You should one dumbbell in each hand. Hold them by your side.
  • Now, using your right leg, move it forward by about two feet. Your left leg should remain stationary at all times. As you lunge forward, move your body down. Keep the back leg straight still. It is important that you do not bend your knee so far that it goes in front of your toes. If you do, it will cause you pain and may end up causing an injury. Basically, only go down as far as you feel comfortable in going down. Remember to keep your torso straight throughout the exercise.
  • Push yourself back into the initial position using mainly your heel. Breathe out as you do so.
  • Do 10-15 reps with the right leg, then switch legs and do 10-15 more reps. Doing both legs will count as a single set.

#6 Dumbbell Rear Lunge

Gear needed: a set of dumbbells

  • Stand up straight. You should have a dumbbell in each hand. Hold them to your side.
  • Step backwards using your right leg. It is basically a reverse lunge. As you step backwards, lower your body down. Try to keep your left leg as straight as you possibly can. Make sure that you breathe in as you move downwards. It is important that you take this exercise slow and steady. Sure, lunges are not particularly difficult on their own, but when you are using weights, if they are too heavy, it becomes a lot more difficult. Again remember to keep your body straight throughout the exercise.
  • In order to reduce the risk of injury, you should make sure that you do not bend the knee over the top of your toes. If you do, it puts too much pressure on your knee joint and can result in injuries.
  • Push up and return to the starting position. Breathe out as you do so.
  • Do the same with the opposite leg. One left leg movement and one right leg movement will count as a single lunge.

#7 Step-Up + Back Lunge Combo

Gear needed: an elevated platform, a set of dumbbells

  • Start by standing up straight. You should have a dumbbell in each of your hands. You will need an elevated platform for this, although make sure that it is only a few inches high.
  • Use your right foot and place it on the platform. You will need to extend your hip and knee. Follow up with your left leg and lift up the rest of your body. Exhale as you do. Tip: when lifting up your whole body, use mainly the heel of your left foot.
  • Return to the starting position by stepping down with your left leg. Breathe in as you do. It is important to flex your hip and knee when you perform this motion.
  • Then go into a lunge position by moving your right leg far behind you.
  • Repeat the exercise with your right leg for the desired amount of times and then switch legs.

#8 Dumbbell Box Squat

Gear needed: a flat bench, a set of dumbbells

  • Position yourself so your butt is over the top of the end of your bench.
  • Hold one dumbbell in each hand. Your elbows should be a right angle.
  • Do a standard squat until you are seated on the bench. Hold yourself in this position for a second before moving yourself back up to the starting position. Do not bounce as you move yourself up.
  • Make sure you keep the weight on your heels when you perform this exercise.

LEG MUSCLES (HAMSTRINGS)

#1 Lying Leg Curls with Dumbbells

Gear needed: a flat bench, a dumbbell

  • You will need a flat bench for this exercise. Start by laying down on it, your knees should be hanging over the edge of the bench. At all times, make sure that the body is kept flat.
  • Stretch out your legs and grab a dumbbell with your feet. You may need somebody to help you here. Make sure that you do not start out too heavily with this exercise.
  • Breathe out. Curl your legs up to 90 degrees as you do so.
  • As you inhale, return the legs to the position that they started in.

#2 Romanian Deadlift with Dumbbells

Gear needed: a set of dumbbells

  • Start from a standing position. You should have a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your torso straight at all times. Your arms should be hanging towards the floor. Elbows should be pointed in towards the side of your body.
  • Flex your hips. Basically, bending over, in a deadlift position. Push your butt back as far as possible. Your knees will bend a little, but it is important that you do not allow them to bend too much. The weight should be focused on the heels of your feet.
  • Keep pushing your butt backwards as you lower yourself. You should start to feel a pull in your hamstrings.
  • Keep moving your hips until you can no longer do it. Hold the position for a single second, then return to the starting position. Tip: The movement in the hips should be horizontal not vertical.

LEG MUSCLES (CALVES)

#1 Standing Barbell Calf Raise

Gear needed: a dumbbell

  • A step would come in handy for this exercise as you will need to be slightly elevated to have a decent range of movement.
  • Place a dumbbell in one hand. The other hand will be used to balance you.
  • Raise the heel of the leg on the same side that you are holding your dumbbell. Extend your ankle as much as you can. Do not move your knee at all. All of the movement will be in your lower leg. Hold the position with a fully extended heel for a second before returning to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the required number of reps on each foot. Once you have done both feet, you can class this as a single set.

#2 Dumbbell Seated Calf Raise

Gear needed: a flat bench, a dumbbell

  • You should get a block, if possible. However, it is not necessary. If you have one, place it about 12 inches in front of a flat bench.
  • Sit on the bench. The balls of your feet should be on the block.
  • Place a dumbbell on your upper thighs and raise your toes up as high as you can. Exhale and squeeze your calves as you do this.
  • Stretch your calves as much as you can to get the most out of this exercise.

FULL BODY

#1 Dumbbell Burpee

Gear needed: a set of dumbbells

  • Stand with your feet apart, about shoulder width. Your weight should be on your heels. The arms should be positioned at your sides, each of them holding a dumbbell.
  • Lower your body into a squatting position by bending your knees and pushing your hips back.
  • Move your hands until they are on the floor directly in front of you. Move the weight onto your hands.
  • Now jump to a plank position landing softly on the balls of your feet. Make sure your body forms a straight line from your head to heel. As in a normal blank position, use your core to avoid your butt sticking up or your back dropping.
  • Next up jump your feet back to your hands.
  • Now jump up while reaching your arms over your head at the same time. This should be a forceful jump.
  • As soon as you land, get back into the squatting position and repeat the movement.
  • Repeat the exercise for the desired amount of times.

You're done!

That is it! We have gone a long way through all the muscle groups in the body.

I really hope you liked the exercises and will feel confident about working out from home now. Just get a set of dumbbells and start your journey towards your perfect body.

Picture of DAniel

Article by:

Daniel DeMoss

I’m a personal trainer based in Denver (Matrix Gym) and a true fitness nerd. If I’m not training clients or working out at my home gym, I’m probably skiing, cycling or hiking with my dog Rufus.  

Get in touch: [email protected]