The BEST dumbbell workout for beginners! This full body strength workout targets the upper body, lower body and core in 25 minutes. Modifications are included for each strength exercise to scale the intensity up or down.
This is full body strength training for beginners – taking some classic strength moves and giving them a modern update in a quick and effective low impact workout.
To be honest, our beginner workouts are some of my favorites through all seasons of life. They focus on building strength and are low impact (AKA gentle on the joints).
This is a quick and effective full body workout that is ALL strength training, featuring the best dumbbell exercises for beginners and advanced fitness enthusiasts alike.
You choose how challenging this weight training workout is based on the weights you pick up. I’m challenging you to go heavy!
Free Beginner Workout Plan
Dumbbell Workout for Beginners FAQs
How Should A Beginner Start Strength Training?
The best way for a beginner to start strength training is by following a beginner workout plan. This takes the guesswork out of how many reps, what exercises, and how many days a week to workout. I recommend one of our free beginner workout plans. Strength training workouts are great for beginners.
How Long Should I Strength Train as a Beginner?
I recommend starting with 20-30 minute workouts, 3 days a week. This is a pace that allows your body proper time to recover between training sessions as you build strength. Our functional strength training program, Strong 20, is a great place to start.
What Dumbbell Weight Should A Beginner Use?
I recommend between 5 and 10 lbs for beginner dumbbell exercises. The last 2-3 reps of each move should feel challenging to complete with proper form; that’s how you know you chose the right weights. If you are easily able to complete all the reps in your set, it’s time to increase your weights.
25-Minute Dumbbell Workout for Beginners
Build foundational strength and improve general fitness with this dumbbell workout for beginners.
A complete total body workout that hits all the major upper and lower body muscle groups in under 25 minutes, using just a set of free weights (AKA dumbbells).
Targets: Legs, glutes, quads, hamstrings, hip abductors and core.
How To Do A Goblet Squat
Stand with your feet hip width apart, holding a dumbbell vertically at your chest in a goblet-hold.
Inhale as you bend your knees and sit your hips back (as if sitting down in a chair). Aim for 90-degree bends at each knee, focusing on pushing your knees out (not letting them cave in). Keep your torso upright.
Exhale as you press through your heels to stand tall, driving your hips forward to return to standing.
Shoulder Press and Overhead Tricep Extension
Targets: Upper arm (biceps), back of arm (triceps), back, shoulders and core.
How To Do A Shoulder Press and Overhead Tricep Extension
Begin in neutral standing position, feet shoulder width apart. Hold a single dumbbell horizontally between both hands at your chest.
Press the dumbbell straight overhead, locking out the elbows, performing an overhead shoulder press. Repeat, performing two shoulder presses. After completing the second shoulder press, keep the dumbbell extended straight overhead.
Then, bend your elbows to lower the dumbbell behind your head. Keeping your elbows close to your ears as you lower the dumbbell.
Then, squeeze the back of your arm (triceps) to extend the dumbbell overhead. Think “hide the dumbbell, show the dumbbell” if you were watching yourself in a mirror. Repeat, performing two tricep extensions.
Alternating Reverse Lunges
Targets: Legs, quads, hamstrings, butt and calves.
How To Do Alternating Reverse Lunges
Stand with feet hip-distance apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.
Step your right leg back into a reverse lunge, dropping your right knee down towards the ground as you lower your hips until both knees reach a 90-degree angle, front thigh is parallel to the floor. Lower slowly and with control.
Exhale, squeezing your left glute and keeping the weight in your left heel as you push up, returning to standing position.
Repeat on the left side, stepping your left foot back into a reverse lunge, dropping your left knee down towards the ground until both knees reach 90 degree angles.
Exhale, squeezing your right glute to push up and return to starting position.
Modification: Hold one dumbbell horizontally at your chest, or do this exercise with just your body weight.
1.5 Bicep Curls
Targets: The two heads of the bicep muscle, with an emphasis on the short head. And all of the stabilizing muscles in the shoulder, wrist, elbow and core.
How To Do 1.5 Bicep Curls
Start standing, feet shoulder width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing outward (underhand grip or supine curl).
Keeping your elbows locked by your sides, squeeze your bicep muscle to curl the weights up to shoulder-height as you exhale.
With control, slowly lower the dumbbells down half way, stopping when your elbows form a 90 degree angle.
Then curl the dumbbells back up to shoulder height.
And finally lower the dumbbells all the way back down to your thighs, returning to starting position.
Think: all the way up, halfway down, back to the top and all the way down.
Staggered Deadlift and Back Row
Targets: Legs, glutes, hamstrings, quads, hips, core and back.
How To Do A Staggered Deadlift and Back Row
Stand with feet hip-width apart, a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in towards your body.
Stagger your feet, so your left leg is slightly in front of your right foot. Kickstand your back right foot, right heel floating off the ground. Keep 80% of your weight in your front foot, 20% in your back toe.
Maintain a staggered stance as you hinge at the hips. Push your hips back towards the wall behind you as you glide the dumbbells down the front of your legs.
Once you feel a stretch in the back of your leg, pause, and pull your elbows towards your rib cage (performing a back row). With control, lower the dumbbells back down.
Then, press through your front heel to push your hips forward, pulling the dumbbells back up towards your hips as you stand tall.
Modification: Hold one dumbbell in the opposite hand from your working foot.
Start in a high plank position, hands on dumbbells, core engaged. Creating a straight line from head to tailbone and heels.
Lower your chest towards the ground, elbows fall back towards your hips (performing a push up). Exhale as you press back up to high plank. Repeat, performing two push ups.
Then step your feet outside of your hands, landing in a low wide squat position (or sumo squat stance).
Drive through your heels to stand tall, holding one dumbbell in each hand between your legs. Perform two wide stance sumo squats, knees pushing out towards your outer three toes.
On the second squat, lower the dumbbells all the way down to the mat; then step or jump your feet back to high plank position.
Modification: Perform this exercise with one dumbbell or drop weight and use just your bodyweight. Place your hands on an elevated surface (couch or counter top) to reduce the intensity of the push ups.
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