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.

Safety and Precautions

See your healthcare provider before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses, or other conditions. When you are first starting out (especially if you are new to exercise) use less weight or no weight at all.

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.  


Total Time: 30 minutes or more. Workout time varies based on the number of sets and reps you choose.

Level: Beginner through advanced (depending on the weight you choose)

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

What to Expect: Beginners should perform 1 set of 12 reps of each exercise, resting for about 30 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.

To progress, add a set each week (up to 3 sets), resting about 30 to 45 seconds between exercises. 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.

Warm Up

Begin with a 5- to 10-minute warm-up of light cardio, such as walking in place or doing jumping jacks.

The Workout




Verywell / 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


Good Morning

Verywell / Ben Goldstein


A "good morning" is also sometimes called a hip hinge. This exercise works the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.

Place a barbell or broomstick behind your neck resting on your trapezius muscles (upper back). Brace your abdominals and hinge at the hips. It should feel as if you are sending your hips backward. Maintain a straight back and make sure your head and chest are up and forward. Inhale smoothly as you return to the starting position.

Reps/Sets: 12 reps, 1 to 3 sets


Dumbbell Row

Dumbbell Row
Dumbbell Row. photo (c) Dominic DiSaia / Getty Images

For this exercise, take the right leg forward into a lunge position with the back leg straight and tilt the upper body forward. Place a dumbbell in the left hand Make sure your chest is open and the shoulders are back.

Squeeze the back as you bend the elbows, pulling the weight up toward the torso in a rowing motion. Return to starting position and repeat. Do one set with the right leg forward and the weight in the left hand and the next set with the left leg forward and a weight in the right hand.

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

Reps/Sets: 12 reps, 1 to 3 sets


Reverse Lunge

single lunge

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Using a wall or chair for balance if needed, stand tall and step back about three feet with the right foot. You may find it helpful to imagine that you are standing with your feet on train tracks about hip-distance apart. Keep the feet on those imaginary tracks as you step back.

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


Overhead Press

Verywell / 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


Side Lunge

side lunge



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


Hammer Curl

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Stand with feet about hip-width apart, arms relaxed at your sides, 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



Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Position yourself with hands a bit wider than shoulders with knees on the floor. 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


Skull Crusher

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Lie on the floor or on a bench and hold weights straight up overhead, palms facing in. Bend the elbows and lower the weights until they come close to your head. 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

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."