Total-Body Dumbbell Workout

This total-body workout is perfect for beginners, home exercisers, or anyone who wants a simple workout that targets all of the major muscles of the body: glutes, thighs, hips, back, chest, shoulders, and arms. The workout is full of tried-and-true classics, from squats and lunges to push-ups, and all you need are a few sets of dumbbells to get started.

Precautions

See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses, or other conditions.

Equipment Needed

Various weighted dumbbells, a bar or stick (e.g., a broomstick or a lightly weighted bar,) and a mat.

How To

  • Begin with a 5- to 10-minute warm-up of light cardio, such as walking in place or doing jumping jacks.
  • Beginners: Perform 1 set of 12 reps of each exercise, resting for about 30 seconds between exercises. The general rule is to use a weight that's heavy enough that you can only complete the desired number of reps with good form. But if you're a beginner, it's OK to just use a weight that challenges you.  
  • To progress, add a set each week (up to 3 sets), resting about 30 to 45 seconds between exercises.
  • For more advanced exercisers, do up to 3 sets of 12 reps, using enough weight that you can only complete 12 reps.
  • Do this workout two to three non-consecutive days a week, taking at least one day of rest between workouts. For best weight-loss results, combine this workout with regular cardio and a healthy, low-calorie diet.
  • For more challenge, try Intermediate Total Body Strength, which features more difficult exercises.
1

Squats

SquatOverheadPress

 Ben Goldstein

Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold weights over the shoulders or at your sides. Keeping the abs engaged, bend the knees as if you were lowering yourself onto a chair behind you. Keep your knees behind your toes and your back straight. Push into the heels to stand up and repeat.

Suggested Weight: 5 to 20 pounds for women, 8 to 35 pounds for men

Reps/Sets: 12 reps, 1 to 3 sets

2

Hip Hinges

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place a bar or broomstick behind your head, holding it with one hand above your head and the other end at the small of your back. The stick should be in contact with your head, between the shoulders and your tailbone. Shift the weight to your heels and push your hips back as you hinge forward at the hips, bending the knees slightly until your torso is at about a 45-degree angle. Keep the stick in contact with all three points during the movement. Contract the glutes to stand up, again keeping the stick in contact with your head, shoulders, and tailbone. 

Reps/Sets: 12 reps, 1 to 3 sets

3

Dumbbell Rows

For this back exercise, bend at the waist in a hip-hinge to about 45 degrees just like the above exercise. The exercise is shown with the back parallel to the floor, but if you can't do that with a flat back, stay at a higher angle. Make sure your chest is open and the shoulders are back and hold weights in each hand. Squeeze the back as you bend the elbows, pulling them up toward the torso in a rowing motion. Return to starting position and repeat.


Suggested Weight: 8 to 15 pounds for women, 10 to 30 pounds for men

Reps/Sets: 12 reps, 1 to 3 sets

4

Reverse Lunges

single lunge
Ben Goldstein

Using a wall or chair for balance if needed, stand with feet together and step back with the right foot, taking it about 3 feet behind you and staying up on the back toes. Bend the knees and lower the hips so your front leg becomes parallel to the floor. Keep the front knee positioned directly over your ankle (you should see the tip of your shoe). Push through the front heel, step the right foot back, and repeat for 12 reps before switching sides.

Reps/Sets: 12 reps, 1 to 3 sets

5

Overhead Presses

Shoulder Overhead Press
Ben Goldstein

Sit or stand with abs engaged, and hold weights over the shoulders, keeping elbows bent like goal posts. Press the weights overhead without arching the back, concentrating on the shoulders. Lower elbows until weights are at ear-level and repeat.

Suggested Weight: 5 to 12 pounds for women, 8 to 20 pounds for men

Reps/Sets: 12 reps, 1 to 3 sets

6

Side Lunges

side lunge

undrey/iStock

 

Step out to the right, keeping the left leg straight and both feet pointing forward. As your right foot hits the ground, bend at the hips and push your glutes back as you shift all the weight to your right leg. Continue shifting your weight over the right foot until the shinbone is almost vertical to the floor and the right knee is in line with your toes, both heels flat. Push into the right heel as you allow your weight to shift into your right hip and repeat on the other side. That's one lunge.

Reps/Sets: 12 reps, 1 to 3 sets

7

Hammer Curls

Stand with feet about hip-width apart, arms extended straight down, holding dumbbells with the palms facing in. Squeeze the biceps to curl the weights towards the shoulders, keeping the elbows stationary. Slowly lower the weights, keeping a slight bend in the elbows at the bottom.  

Suggested Weight: 5 to 10 pounds for women, 10 to 20 pounds for men

Reps/Sets: 12 to 16 reps, 1 to 3 sets

8

Push-Ups

Push up
Ben Goldstein

Position yourself with hands a bit wider than shoulders, knees on the floor, and legs crossed. Keep your back flat and torso contracted. Lower your body down until your elbows are at 90-degree angles. Push back up and repeat. You can add intensity by doing the exercise on your toes if you're able.

Reps/Sets: 12 to 16 reps, 1 to 3 sets

9

Triceps Extensions

Lie on the floor and hold weights straight up overhead, palms facing in. Bend the elbows and lower the weights until they're next to the ears. Straighten the arms, squeezing the triceps and repeat.

Suggested Weight: 5 to 10 pounds for women, 8 to 15 pounds for men

Reps/Sets: 12 reps, 1 to 3 sets

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