Best Home Dumbbell Workouts

Sporty couple having a workout outsideDespite what your local gym may tell you, you really don’t need an expensive gym membership and a room full of expensive equipment (that you generally have to queue for and then wipe down afterwards) to get in a thorough workout. The best home dumbbell workouts – which can work every muscle in your body – can most definitely be done at home.

Typically, people think that dumbbells are used solely to work the arms to get those Arnold Schwarzenegger-esque shirt popping biceps and triceps – this actually couldn’t be further from the truth. The great thing about dumbbells is how versatile they are – used correctly, and following a solid workout routine, you can hit your whole body including chest, back and legs in a single session. They can also be really effective in identifying and fixing strength imbalances and then working one side at a time.

Even if you only have one pair of dumbbells, you’re still going to be able to smash out a really solid workout, fatigue your muscles and make great progress towards your overall fitness.

Gold number one balloon on white backgroundSo Which Home Dumbbell Workouts Are Best?

This question is really quite subjective and depends on lots of different personal factors such as your overall goals and current fitness level. There are dozens of different exercises you can do with a pair of dumbbells and literally hundreds of variations linked to whether your goal is to increase strength and endurance, burn fat or work a specific area(s) of your body.

However, I’ve outlined below three different workouts that dumbbells are perfect for, each focusing on a different end-result depending on your goal, including HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), strength and muscle building, and a toning and firming butt workout – a popular choice for many! Apart from the butt workout, the ones I’ve chosen will work your whole body to give you an all-over body burn, but there are of course plenty of others that you can find that will target specific areas such as arms, shoulders or abs; some that are lower impact if you suffer with joint problems, and some that are shorter or longer in duration depending on how much time you have during your day to get a workout in.

The most important thing with the workouts below is that you do them at your own pace and, especially if you are a beginner, don’t go in too heavy as not only will you not be able to complete the set, you’ll likely cause muscle strain which will mean a week or two off to recover, and seriously hamper your progress. These exercises are suitable for all sexes and abilities – just adjust the weight and intensity to suit.

For the sake of ease, I’m going to assume everyone’s a rookie and so for each of the workouts below, I’ve linked to a video which shows you how to perform each exercise. Get yourself familiar with each before you start as you won’t have time to look them up in-between exercises!

The HIIT Dumbbell Workout – Let’s Sweat!Photo of woman in gym wear jumping

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the go-to choice for those wanting to work hard but have limited time during the day to do so.

A HIIT session involves intense bursts of exercise followed by a short period of rest. This particular workout contains five circuits but can be completed in just ten minutes and will give you the fat-burning boost you need. The after-effect of this workout will ignite your metabolism and increase your body’s ability to burn fat for up to 48 hours!

The Workout:

Each circuit consists of the following:

  • Perform the first move for 60 seconds. Make sure you complete the reps with control, at an easy tempo and with full range of motion.
  • Perform the second move for 30 seconds. Here you should go at between 80 – 100% of your maximum effort and attempt to reach fatigue but without compromising on your form.
  • Perform the third move for 15 seconds. With this one you just need to hold a single position.

Try not to rest in between each exercise in the circuit. When you come to the end of the circuit, rest 60 seconds (no more) and then go on to the next.

The Equipment:

A pair of medium-weight dumbbells (a good starting point is between 5-10kg or 11-22 pounds for beginners)

Let’s Go!

Circuit 1

Circuit 2

Circuit 3

  • Alternating Reverse Lunge for 60 seconds (demo video)
  • Split Squat for 30 seconds. Switch legs after 15 seconds (demo video)
  • Lunge Hold Right for 15 seconds (demo video)
  • Lunge Hold Left for 15 seconds (demo video)

Circuit 4

Circuit 5 (These last three exercises can be done with or without dumbbells)

Man lunging holding black dumbbellsThe Dumbbell Butt Workout

A lot of us don’t realise just how much our butts do for us! Without our butts we wouldn’t be able to climb stairs, go for a run or hike up a mountain (if that’s your thing?).

As much as we use our butts, we also tend to spend a lot of time sitting on them too which means they spend more time relaxing than working. A lot of us can’t avoid sitting down for most of the day especially if it’s necessary as part of our job.

However sitting all the time can cause gluteal amnesia (or dead butt syndrome!) which means the muscles pretty much forget to engage as much as they need to during everyday movements and workouts. If our butt muscles aren’t doing their bit then other muscles such as the quads and hip flexors take over which can cause injury in those muscles that are overcompensating.

Regardless of all that physiological stuff, there’s something quite satisfying about working your gluteal muscles or ‘glutes’ (fancy words for butt by the way!) Doing a butt workout really does make you feel strong and powerful.

The workout below will help you to strengthen that behind. It really isolates the glutes and targets the three main muscles in this area – the gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, and gluteus medius.

The workout:

This is a nice 15 minute dumbbell workout to target your behind from all angles. Group the exercises below into pairs and alternate between them for three sets, rest for 30 seconds then move on to the next exercise pair. Depending on how much time you have, you can just do one set of each exercise and repeat the circuit two or three times.

Either complete this workout on its own when you want to target those glutes, or tag it onto the end of a HIIT workout as a bonus.

The Equipment:

A pair of dumbbells (start with 3-5 KG dumbbells, or 8 to 10 pounds) and increase the weight as you gain strength)

Let’s Go!

The Build Muscle And Strength Workout

This workout is all about building muscle and features both leg and upper body exercises for an all-over workout that will also work your core and those stabilising muscles as you try to keep your balance.

It’s absolutely fine to work at different intensities with this one depending on how you feel – just let your body be your guide. For the leg section, make sure to focus on squeezing your glutes and hamstrings so you get the most out of each exercise.

The Workout:

Choose one of the three options below to select your period of work and rest time. After you’ve completed your final move, rest for 60 seconds, and that’s one circuit. Then start over and complete the circuit again for a maximum of three to five times.

After your final circuit why not try the bonus move for a total of 60 seconds? It doesn’t require a dumbbell but is a great workout finisher to light up those abs and strengthen your core muscles.

Option A: 30 seconds exercise, 30 seconds rest

Option B: 40 seconds exercise, 20 seconds rest

Option C: 50 seconds exercise, 10 seconds rest

The Equipment:

A pair of dumbbells (start with a pair between 5-10kg or 11-22 pounds and work up from there)

Let’s Go!

Just The Beginning – Explore What Works For You!

When it comes to any kind of home dumbbell workouts it’s important to remember that everyone is different, as I said in my intro. What I’ve included here are just some of my favourite examples that will cater for most beginners and form a great base from which to explore and learn.

Remember the key is to make these work for you so feel free to adapt them or take out an exercise if it doesn’t work for you and substitute it with another – there are plenty of online resources that will throw up lots of different options if you type in what body part you want to focus on.

I hope at least this has given you a solid starting point. My most important piece of advice to you is to have fun with these, go at your own pace and build up to more as you go. And if you want some advice on which dumbbells to get, you can always check out my blog post about the different types available and some of my recommendations.

Here’s to your total body transformation!



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