Dumbbells are extremely simple. They take up very little space, they are easy to hold, and they provide a killer workout.

However, you might be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of dumbbell exercises available on the internet and in magazines today. 

For this reason, let’s adhere to the tried-and-true KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly) principle. 

In this article, I’ll review the only three exercises you really need to get a fantastic, total body workout with your dumbbell set.

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full body dumbbell workout

Renegade Rows

Renegade Rows

An exercise that incorporates both pushups and rows is sure to be a tough one!

The renegade row has been a favorite of functional exercises for decades. This move works the biceps, triceps, and chest, along with various shoulder and back muscles. 

If you’re just starting out, be careful with this exercise. It requires a high level of balance, proprioception, and strength throughout the entire body. But once you master it, it’s like no other exercise on earth.

How to Perform

  • Place two dumbbells on the ground, spaced about shoulder-width apart.
  • Position one hand on each dumbbell, assuming a pushup posture.
  • Then, perform a pushup.
  • Once you’ve risen back into the starting position, perform a row on each side by pulling a dumbbell up toward the side of your chest.
  • Complete 3 sets of 10 reps on each side, with a pushup in between each rep. Perform this workout 3 times a week.

Dumbbell Squat to Shoulder Press

Dumbbell Squat to Shoulder Press

Overhead movements are a must for strong, stable shoulders. 

Furthermore, front squats build strength and athleticism as no other exercise can.

Therefore, let’s combine the two into one, awesome exercise!

The dumbbell squat works the quads, glutes, and various other leg muscles. Plus, the shoulder press portion of the move works the deltoids, triceps, and many other muscles of the upper body. It’s an all-in-one super exercise!

How to Perform

  • In standing, grasp one dumbbell in each hand, with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • Next, rack the dumbbells on the front of your shoulders.
  • Squat down as low as you can comfortably.
  • Then, explode up into standing and press the dumbbells up over your head. 
  • Return the dumbbells to your shoulders and repeat this pattern for 3 sets of 10-12 reps per session. Complete 3 sessions per week.

Dumbbell Deadlifts

Dumbbell Deadlifts

Deadlifts are one of the “big three” exercises in powerlifting. They can be performed with a barbell, a hex bar, dumbbells, and in a number of other ways.

Furthermore, there are many variations on the deadlift. For instance, there are Romanian deadlifts, conventional deadlifts, and stiff-leg deadlifts. 

Regardless of the modification, deadlifts work the glutes, hamstrings, and various other muscles throughout the body.

For the purposes of this article, I’ll describe the dumbbell Romanian deadlift.

How to Perform

  • In standing, grab one dumbbell in each hand. 
  • Next, bend your knees slightly and hinge forward at your hips, allowing the dumbbells to lower toward the ground.
  • Once you feel a good pull in your hamstrings, contract your glutes in order to return to standing.
  • Continue in this pattern for 3 sets of 10-12 reps. Complete 3 sessions per week

The Bottom Line

Dumbbells are a versatile exercise option that allows you to work tons of different muscles. By performing the three exercises listed above, using dumbbells for your resistance, you’ll start to see strength gains throughout your whole body very quickly!

Works Cited

  1. Evangelista, A. L., Braz, T. V., La Scala Teixeira, C. V., Rica, R. L., Alonso, A. C., Barbosa, W. A., Reis, V. M., Baker, J. S., Schoenfeld, B. J., Bocalini, D. S., & Greve, J. M. D. (2021). Split or full-body workout routine: which is best to increase muscle strength and hypertrophy?. Einstein (Sao Paulo, Brazil)19, eAO5781. https://doi.org/10.31744/einstein_journal/2021AO5781

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