10 Dumbbell Exercises That Burn Fat

There's a common misperception that if we aren’t jumping around the room or moving fast on a bike or running path we just aren’t being efficient. But dumbbells are an accessible, easy way to get a great workout and burn fat along the way. Dumbells can be helpful because:

  • Stressing your muscles creates a breakdown in muscle tissue which makes that muscle come back even stronger.
  • Strength training burns fat not only while you work out, but after you work out because when you have more muscle density you burn more fat all the time; not just during the workout.
  • After a good strength training session, the body continues to burn fat for several hours.

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Dumbbell Exercises for Weight Loss

  • Plank to upright row
  • Squat thruster
  • Forward lunge bicep curl
  • Cross behind lunge lateral curl
  • Deadlift
  • Lateral curl
  • Renegade row
  • Plie v raise
  • Side-to-side squat and swing
  • Surrenders
  • Leg loop

Fat-Burning Dumbell Workout

This workout is not your average strength training session. By multi-tasking your muscle use and incorporating some powerlifting, you will end up with a high calorie and fat burn, with a little cardio to boot. Most of the moves are multi-joint, multi-muscle and most of them are going to get your heart rate soaring.

Try eight reps of each exercise the first time, working your way up to 12 reps.

The weight of your dumbbells is relative to your strength, but after your eight reps, you should feel the muscles burning.

You may want a few different sets of dumbbells so you have heavier weights for certain moves and lighter weights for others.  


Plank to Upright Row

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Start in a plank position with arms and legs long, hands shoulder-distance apart holding dumbbells.

  1. Walk or jump both feet outside your hands coming into a low squat like you're sitting back into a chair.
  2. Press your weight back onto your heels. Squeeze your glutes (your butt muscles) and then come to standing.
  3. Perform an upright row by pulling the dumbbells up slowly to chest height, letting elbows point out to the sides as you lift dumbbells.
  4. Then release arms back down with control.

TargetsCore, glutes, chest, arms, shoulders


Squat Thruster

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Start standing with feet hip-distance apart and lower into a squat position by bending the knees. Keep the spine straight, chest lifted, and knees behind toes. The elbows are bent and dumbbells are at shoulder height.

  1. Using the lower body, thrust up to standing and press the dumbbells overhead extending the arms long.
  2. Then lower back to starting position

Targets: Shoulders, glutes, hamstrings


Forward Lunge Bicep Curl

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart. Take a large step forward with one foot and lower your body toward the floor. Both legs should be bent at a 90-degree angle at the bottom of the lunge.

  1. Bring weights in towards the shoulders to complete the bicep curl then push off with the front foot and return to start.
  2. Repeat on the other side.

Targets: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, biceps


Cross Behind Lunge Lateral Curl

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Begin in a standing position with feet shoulder-width apart and dumbbells in hands alongside the legs.

  1. Cross your right foot behind your left leg landing on the ball of your back foot with both knees bent.
  2. Step the right foot back to the starting position and lengthen your arms out to your side with a slight bend in the elbow.
  3. Slowly lower the arms back to your sides and repeat with your left foot stepping back.

Targets: Quads, glutes, back, shoulders



Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Begin in a standing position with your feet hip-distance apart and the dumbbells resting in front of your thighs.

  1. Tighten your abdominals and keep a flat back as you bend the knees slightly, lowering the dumbbells towards the floor.
  2. Squeeze the glutes and use your hamstrings and legs to lift and return to your upright position.

Targets: Glutes, hamstrings


Renegade Row

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Begin in a full plank position with the dumbbells in your hands, with your arms extended, while balancing on your toes (a kneeling variation is fine if you are not able to do a full plank).

  1. Engage your abdominals drawing the belly inward towards your spine.
  2. Pull the right dumbbell up toward your right hip bone keeping the weight close to your side.
  3. Slowly return it to the floor and repeat with the left dumbbell.

Targets: Triceps, core, back


Plie V Raise

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Stand with the dumbbells in your hands, with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out.

  1. Bend the knees lowering down into a deep plié.
  2. Squeeze your glutes and straighten your legs to come to a standing position.
  3. Tighten the abdominals and lift your arms up and out forming a V shape.
  4. Lower your arms to return back to the starting position.

Targets: Glutes, back


Side-To-Side Squat and Swing

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Start with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, with a dumbbell in your right hand.

  1. Take a step out to the side with your right foot and sit back into a deep squat.
  2. Let the dumbbell swing back under the legs then up to chest height while jumping up.
  3. Switch the dumbbell to the other hand, and come into a side squat on the other side.

Targets: Chest, glutes, quads, hamstrings



Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Start in a kneeling position holding the dumbbells at your sides. Make sure you are kneeling on a cushioned surface or workout mat to protect your knees.

  1. Step forward with one foot and stand all the way up while pressing the weights overhead.
  2. Kneel down on one knee at a time returning the weights to your sides. 
  3. Repeat from the starting position with the opposite leg.

Targets: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, shoulders


Leg Loop

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Start seated on a mat with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Have a dumbbell nearby. Scoop out your core, lean back, and lift your legs into a tabletop position so they are parallel to the floor.

  1. Take a dumbbell ​in one hand.
  2. Drive the knee on the same side in towards the chest and extend the other leg long so you can loop the dumbbell under the bent knee through to the other hand.
  3. Once the dumbbell is through repeat on the other side.

Targets: Core

6 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Mcallister MJ, Schilling BK, Hammond KG, Weiss LW, Farney TM. Effect of grip width on electromyographic activity during the upright row. J Strength Cond Res. 2013;27(1):181-7. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e31824f23ad

  2. Contreras B, Vigotsky AD, Schoenfeld BJ, Beardsley C, Cronin J. A Comparison of Gluteus Maximus, Biceps Femoris, and Vastus Lateralis Electromyographic Activity in the Back Squat and Barbell Hip Thrust Exercises. J Appl Biomech. 2015;31(6):452-8. doi:10.1123/jab.2014-0301

  3. Marchetti PH, Guiselini MA, Da silva JJ, Tucker R, Behm DG, Brown LE. Balance and Lower Limb Muscle Activation between In-Line and Traditional Lunge Exercises. J Hum Kinet. 2018;62:15-22. doi:10.1515/hukin-2017-0174

  4. Begalle RL, Distefano LJ, Blackburn T, Padua DA. Quadriceps and hamstrings coactivation during common therapeutic exercises. J Athl Train. 2012;47(4):396-405. doi:10.4085/1062-6050-47.4.01

  5. Mcallister MJ, Hammond KG, Schilling BK, Ferreria LC, Reed JP, Weiss LW. Muscle activation during various hamstring exercises. J Strength Cond Res. 2014;28(6):1573-80. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000000302

  6. Del monte MJ, Opar DA, Timmins RG, Ross J, Keogh JW, Lorenzen C. Hamstring myoelectrical activity during three different kettlebell swing exercises. J Strength Cond Res. 2017. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000002254

By Chris Freytag
Chris Freytag is an ACE-certified group fitness instructor, personal trainer, and health coach. She is also the founder of GetHealthyU.com.