Attack Full-Body Workout with Dumbbells Alone

Full-body muscular workouts are a little hard to come by, and they often involve major pieces of equipment and a bit of invested money and time — a pool, a mountain or road bike, a home gym or gym circuit training.

Full-body workouts can be done very well with just a pair of weights heavy enough to challenge both your upper and lower body. If you have more than one pair handy you might want to use heavier weights for the lower-body exercises.

If you can do five rounds of this workout with 10 reps each, you’re amazing and you probably know it! If you can only do two or three, you know that’s awesome, too, and you’ll work your way up to more!

Goblet Squat

This is a good way to start squatting — holding a dumbbell in front of your chest reminds you to keep your upper body straight and shoulders open. You can do this exercise with one or two dumbbells.

  • Keep the dumbbell close to your body.
  • If you start rounding your back or your shoulders toward the dumbbell, reduce the weight or take a break.
  • Sit back as you squat and push from your heels to get back up.
  • Knees track over toes, bending and flexing in line with your feet.

Shoulder Press

This can be done standing or sitting down. The seated version will offer more support and let you focus while building strength and learning proper form. If you are confident doing the standing version, try it — it will work your core so much more!

  • Keep your elbows at 90 degrees.
  • Avoid leaning backward excessively.

Dumbbell Row

All types of rows are always a good choice to pair with pushing exercises such as chest presses. You can do this with one arm at a time if you prefer. Use your other arm to brace yourself on something.

  • Keep your back neutral (a slight arch is normal, but rounding is not).
  • Keep your elbows at 90 degrees and your arms close to your body.
  • As you row, imagine that you are trying to put the weight into your back pocket.
  • Engage your core.

Stiff-Legged Deadlift

The stiff-legged deadlift gets its name from the fact that your legs are almost straight as you perform this exercise. If you struggle to bend forward without rounding your back, work on your hamstring flexibility. Feel free to substitute this exercise with a regular dumbbell deadlift.

  • Keep your abs and back muscles engaged.
  • A neutral arch in your back is fine but rounding your back in the other direction is not.
  • Initiate the movement by pushing your hips back.
  • Bend your knees as much as you need to avoid rounding your back (hamstring flexibility can be a limiting factor).

Chest Press

This is usually performed on a bench, or you can use on a mat on the floor.

  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Your palms should be facing down toward your feet.
  • Head, shoulder blades and glutes need to be in contact with the bench throughout the whole movement.