Build strength and muscle definition with this efficient workout: the 8 Best Dumbbell Exercises, combined in an engaging AMRAP format. This full body workout targets the arms, legs, chest, back and core, and can be completed at home. A combination of muscle-specific isolation exercises and functional compound exercises makes this workout both effective and efficient for building muscle and burning fat.
You loved the “you versus you” challenge of completing as many reps as possible in this 30-Minute AMRAP workout. Today’s workout repeats that format, alternating an upper body dumbbell exercise and lower body dumbbell exercise in each circuit.
AMRAP workouts are an excellent way to fit a high number of reps into a brief workout. This is an effective method of training because it pushes the muscles to fatigue in around 30 minutes, without the need for gym machines, heavier weights or barbells.
Timed intervals of work make this full body home workout scalable for all fitness levels. Take each exercise at your pace, performing as many reps as possible while maintaining good form.
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Best Dumbbell Exercises FAQs
Can You Build Muscle with Just Dumbbells?
Yes! Dumbbell exercises are an effective way to add resistance training to your workouts and build muscle. Compared to using gym machines (such as a leg press machine or lat pull down machine), dumbbells engage more of the smaller, stabilizing muscles in the lower body, upper body and core.
What Are The Best Dumbbell Exercises?
The best full body exercises are compound exercises, or exercises that target multiple muscle groups at once. Compound exercises are a form of functional strength training, building strength for the motions you perform every day, such as pressing, pushing, lifting and twisting.
Raising your heels allows you to get deeper range of motion in your squat.
How To Do Heels Up Squats
Place a pair of dumbbells on the ground behind your feet. Stand with your feet hip width apart, placing your heels on the bar of each dumbbell. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.
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 in an upright position.
Exhale as you press through your heels to stand tall, driving your hips forward to return to standing position.
Modification: Perform this move with feet flat on the floor if heels raised isn’t comfortable for you.
Alternating Bicep Curl and Shoulder Press
Targets: The biceps brachii (the front of your arms), shoulders, triceps, rear delts, upper back and core.
How To Do Alternating Dumbbell Bicep Curls and Shoulder Presses
Start standing, feet shoulder-width apart and core engaged. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing in towards each other (hammer curl).
Then, perform a bicep curl on the right side, squeezing the front of your arm to curl the dumbbell in your right hand up to shoulder height. Think about keeping your elbow tucked into your side and shoulder blades pulled down.
Pause when the dumbbell reaches your shoulder, then perform a narrow overhead shoulder press by pushing the dumbbell overhead until your right arm is fully extended, bicep near your ear.
Slowly and with control, lower the dumbbell down to shoulder level. Then curl the weight down to your side, returning to starting position.
Repeat, this time performing a bicep curl and then a shoulder press on the left side.
Continue this pattern, alternating sides with each rep.
Bulgarian Lunge (Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat)
Targets: Legs, glutes, quadriceps muscles, hip flexors, hamstrings and core.
Also called Bulgarian Lunges, or Rear Foot Elevated Lunges, this challenging split squat exercise is an excellent way to build quad strength. Lean forward to shift the emphasis to the glutes, or keep your torso upright to focus on the quads.
How To Do Bulgarian Lunges (Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats)
Kneel in front of your bench or chair, then place your left foot behind you on a chair or bench, shoelaces down. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand.
Step your right foot forward (it will vary for everyone, but a little over a foot in front of your bench). Your front thigh will be parallel to the floor. This is the bottom of your movement.
Drive through your front right heel, squeezing your right glute to stand tall. Feel your front quad and glute engage to power the movement.
With control, bend your knee to lower down back to the starting position (back left knee should lower down close to the ground), to make your front thigh parallel with the ground. Shoulders remain stacked over hips throughout the movement.
Modification: Perform split squats from a standing position instead of elevating your back foot.
Bonus: unilateral exercises (single-sided exercises) like this single arm dumbbell row also work the abs and core.
How To Do Elevated Plank Single Arm Back Rows (Renegade Rows)
Start in front of a bench, box or couch. Place one dumbbell on the ground below your right arm. Brace your left forearm horizontally on the bench, shoulder stacked over elbow. Then step both feet back, finding an elevated high plank position.
Gripping the dumbbell in your right hand, pull your right elbow to your right hip (performing a renegade row, or plank back row).
Slowly and with control, extend your arm, lowering your dumbbell towards the ground and returning to starting position.
Targets: Lower body (glutes, hamstrings, hips, quads, calves), upper body (trapezius, deltoids, lower back), abs and core.
How To Do Romanian Deadlifts and Dumbbell Cleans
Start standing, feet hip-distance apart and knees slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs.
Hinge forward at the hips to perform a deadlift, pushing your hips back as you lower the dumbbells down along the front of your body. Focus on keeping your back in neutral alignment with your neck and shoulders throughout the entire movement. Keep a slight bend in your knees.
Then, drive through your heels to push your hips forward, squeezing your glutes as you return to a standing position. As you press your hips forward to stand, “clean” the dumbbells up towards your shoulders. Catch the dumbbells at your chest in a front rack position.
Overhead Tricep Extension
Targets: The long head of the triceps and all the stabilizing muscles in the shoulders, core, glutes and lower back muscles.
Stand with feet hip-distance apart, core engaged and soft bend in your knees.
Hold one dumbbell vertically overhead and activate your core by squeezing your glutes and abs to protect your lower back.
Bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle, bringing the dumbbell behind your head. Think ‘hide the dumbbell, show the dumbbell’ if you were watching yourself in a mirror. Keep your elbows close to your ears throughout the entire movement (don’t let your elbows flare out as you fatigue).
Single Leg Dumbbell Hip Thrust
Targets: Glutes (both the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius), hamstrings, hip adductors, core and pelvic floor.
How To Do Single Leg Dumbbell Hip Thrusts
Sit in front of a bench or chair, feet flat on the floor and hip distance apart. Lean back, resting your upper back on the bench. Option to hold one dumbbell at your hips, resting on your hip bones.
Press your weight into your right heel and lift the left foot off the mat.
Then press through the right heel to lift your hips until your right knee, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Squeeze your glutes and pull the belly button in towards the spine to protect the low back and prevent overextension.
Hold at the top of the hip thrust for a moment before lowering your hips back to the starting position with control.
Modification: Perform staggered glute bridges from the floor.
Single Arm Dumbbell Chest Press with Glute Bridge Hold
Targets: Chest (pecs), shoulders (deltoids), triceps and core.
How To Do Single Arm Dumbbell Chest Presses
Sit in front of a bench or chair, feet flat on the floor and hip distance apart. Lean back, resting your upper back on the bench. Hold one dumbbell in your right hand, palm facing towards your knees, elbow bent at a 90-degree angle.
Press your weight into your left heel and lift the right foot off the mat, finding a single leg glute bridge hold.
Exhale as you press the dumbbell overhead, straightening your elbow. Think about keeping your wrist strong, and stacking wrist over elbow over shoulder.
Slowly and with control, bend your elbow to lower the dumbbell down towards your chest, returning to starting position.
Modification: Hold a staggered glute bridge from the floor, then perform single arm chest presses.
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