Training

Dumbbell Only Workouts | Our Comprehensive List

As with any form of exercise, the adaptations you are striving for are dictated by training volume, frequency, intensity, rest and nutrition. Dumbbells are a great way to introduce additional resistance training stimulus in order to facilitate you reaching your strength and fitness goals.

 

Dumbbell Shoulder Workout

1. Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Muscles Targeted: Deltoids, Triceps

Sets: 3

Reps: 8-12

Technique: Using an adjustable bench, start seated upright with the dumbbells resting at shoulder height with your palms facing forwards (ask a friend to assist you into this position if the dumbbells are too heavy to safely do so yourself). Brace your core before pressing the dumbbells straight up, locking your elbows out as the dumbbells meet at the top. Slowly lower to the starting position in a controlled manner before the next rep.

 

2. Lateral Raises

Muscles Targeted: Lateral Deltoid

Sets: 3-5

Reps: 8-15

Technique: Starting seated upright or standing with the dumbbells held at your sides, raise your arm laterally until your hand is level with shoulder height. Use a relatively light load in order to avoid compromising technique, and introduce a bend in the elbow to reduce the difficulty of the exercise. Slowly return to the start position in a controlled manner before starting the next rep.

 

3. Front Raise

Muscles Targeted: Anterior Deltoid, Biceps Brachii

Sets: 3-5

Reps: 8-15

Technique: Starting seated upright or standing with the dumbbells held at your sides, raise your arm directly in front of yourself until your hand is level with shoulder height. Use a relatively light load in order to avoid compromising technique, and introduce a bend in the elbow to reduce the difficulty of the exercise. Slowly return to the start position in a controlled manner before starting the next rep.

 

4. Seal Rows

Muscles Targeted: Rotator Cuff Muscles, Latissimus Dorsi, Posterior Deltoid

Sets: 8-12

Reps: 3-4

Technique: Using an adjustable bench (or a fixed flat bench), lying inclined/prone, you should start with the dumbbells dangling from your arms (muscles still engaged though!). With your hands in a ‘neutral’ grip, pull your elbows up towards the ceiling, squeezing you shoulder blades together at the top of the movement before returning to the starting position.

5. Rear Delt Flyes

Muscles Targeted: Rotator Cuff Muscles, Rear Deltoid

Sets: 3-4

Reps: 8-15

Technique: Using a relatively light load so that you can optimise technique, start either bent at the hip so your torso is parallel to the ground, or with your torso supported by a bench. Start with your arms directly beneath your shoulder joint, then abduct your arms to the side until your hands are level with your shoulders. To adapt the difficulty of this exercise, perform the same movement but with a slight bend in your elbows. Slowly return the dumbbells to the starting position in a controlled manner before starting the next rep.

Dumbbell Arm Workout

1. Supinated Bicep Curl

Muscles Targeted: Biceps Brachii

Sets: 3-5

Reps: 8-12

Technique: Start seated or standing with the dumbbells held at your sides. With your palms facing forwards, flex at your elbows until you reach your end of the range of motion. Try to brace your core or support your torso so that you cannot swing (or ‘cheat curl’). To encourage preferential activation of the biceps, consciously supinate your hands throughout the lift (i.e. actively rotate your thumbs outwards whilst your palms are facing forwards). Slowly return to the start position before starting the next rep.

2. Hammer Curl

Muscles Targeted: Biceps, Forearms

Sets: 3-5

Reps: 8-12

Technique: Start standing or seated with the dumbbells held at your sides. With your hands in a neutral position (i.e. with your thumbs facing forwards), flex at the elbow until your reach the end of your range of movement. Brace your core throughout to avoid swinging. Slowly return to the start position in a controlled manner.

 

3. Triceps Extension

Muscles Targeted: Triceps

Sets: 3-5

Reps: 8-12

Technique: Seated upright or standing, start by holding the dumbbell behind your head with your elbow up towards the ceiling. Extend and lock out your elbow, squeezing at the top, before lowering back to the start position in a controlled manner. (You can also perform this exercise supine/lying down, with your elbow towards the ceiling, lowering and extending the load past the side of your head. This will target the triceps at a different muscle length, thus adding some variety to training options).

 

 

Dumbbell Chest Workout

 

1. Dumbbell Flat Bench Press

Muscles Targeted: Pectoralis Major/Minor, Triceps, Anterior Deltoid

Sets: 3-4

Reps: 8-12

Technique: Start seated at the end of the bench with the dumbbells rested on your legs. Lower yourself back onto the bench, using your knees to help shift the dumbbells up as you move. Plant your feet into the floor, with your elbows tucked at your sides and the dumbbells held with your wrists stacked over your elbow joint. Press the dumbbells upwards until they meet at the top, making sure to squeeze your chest and triceps at the end of the range of movement.

 

2. Dumbbell Incline Bench Press

Muscles Targeted: Pectoralis Major/Minor, Triceps, Anterior Deltoid, Middle Deltoid

Sets: 3-5

Reps: 8-12

Technique: Using an inclined bench, start with the dumbbells resting on your shoulders with your palms facing forwards. Press the dumbbells overhead, until they meet at the top, locking out your elbows. Make sure to brace your core as you press to provide stability in the lift. Slowly return to the start position in a controlled manner before starting the next rep.

 

3. Chest Flyes

Muscles Targeted: Pectoralis Major/Minor

Sets: 3-5

Reps: 8-15

Technique: Use a relatively light load for this exercise so that technique is not compromised and stress on the shoulder joint is minimised. Starting similar to the dumbbell bench press, lie on a supine bench and press the load up to the end of the range of motion to reach the starting position. Abduct your arms, following the natural arch of the shoulder, until your hands/the dumbbells are parallel with the shoulder joint. Proceed to adduct your shoulders by contracting your chest until you reach the starting position again.

 

Dumbbell Leg Workout

1. Bulgarian Split Squat

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps, Glutes

Sets: 3-5

Reps: 8-12

Technique: Starting with the dumbbells held at your sides, get into a lunge stance with your back foot supported on a bench (the wider the stance, the easier it will be to maintain your balance). Keep your torso upright throughout the exercise, bracing your core to promote balance. Similar to a lunge, slowly lower your rear knee to the ground before contracting your quads and glutes to return to the start position. Squeeze at the top before lowering for the next rep, then repeat on the opposite leg.

 

2. Romanian Deadlift

Muscles Targeted: Hamstrings, Glutes, Lower Back Muscles

Sets: 3-5

Reps: 8-10

Technique: Starting with some heavier dumbbells held at your sides, bend at the hip, similar to a regular deadlift. Be sure to keep the dumbbells close to your legs throughout the movement. Contract your hamstrings to return to the start position once you feel a tolerable stretch in your hamstrings at the bottom of the movement. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement before initiating the next rep.

 

3. Box Step Ups

Muscles Targeted: Glutes, Quadriceps

Sets: 3-5

Reps: 10-15

Technique: Using a plyo-box between knee to mid-thigh height, start by holding the dumbbells at your side. Place your front foot onto the box, then push through that heel with minimal assistance from the leg on the ground. Use the back leg for support/balance when lowering yourself down on each rep. When at the top of the rep, squeeze your quads and glutes, before lowering yourself in a controlled manner prior to starting the next rep.



Scott Whitney

Scott Whitney

Writer and expert


REWARDING OUR READERS – EXCLUSIVE 27% OFF EVERYTHING Click here and use code: = 27BLOG