in: Featured, Fitness, Health & Fitness

• Last updated: September 21, 2021

Don’t Be a Dummy: How to Get a Full Workout With Only Dumbbells

Vintage strongman posing working out with dumbbells.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Joe Hashey, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).

After a hard day’s work you head over to your local gym. Unfortunately, so does everyone else in town who works the same hours. Soon the place is buzzing with people and there is a waiting line for nearly everything except that long row of dumbbells. Frustrated, you have to settle for a quick workout because you still want to get home and enjoy your evening.

Perhaps you even give up on those gym hours and try to work out at home. You purchase a couple of items including a pair of dumbbells to get started, but you don’t really think it will make a difference.

Fear not! I have some workouts for you that can be done with just a pair of dumbbells and are every bit as effective as the machines at the gym with long lines.

Dumbbell Upper Body Workout

I usually work out on an upper/lower body split. One day is lower body, the next is upper, then a rest day and repeat. Most of these exercises are compound movements that require a lot of muscles to work simultaneously.

Workout Routine (exercises explained in video below):

  1. Bow and Arrow Bench Press: 4 x 12
  2. DB Row w/Iso Hold: 3 x 15 and a 15-second hold
  3. Shoulder Complex: 4 x 12
  4. A. Triceps Extension: 3 x 15
  5. B. Zottman Curls: 3 x 15

Dumbbell Lower Body Workout

When workouts are performed with proper intensity and form, you don’t need a laundry list of exercises! The lower body dumbbell workout only contains a few exercises, but they also give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Workout Routine:

  1. Goblet Squats: 6 x 10
  2. Lunge to RDL: 4 x 10 each side
  3. Iso Series (squat/lunge/hip thrust): 4 x 30 seconds each

Dumbbell Full Body Workout

This is the most advanced of the 3 workouts. The plank series is one of the hardest to do. However, don’t let that stop you from trying this out. Make sure you listen to the video for easier progressions and start with light weights! Set yourself up for success and you can always add time or weight next week after learning the exercise patterns.

Workout Routine:

  1. Renegade Rows: 4 x 14
  2. DB Squat Thrust w/Push up: 4 x 10
  3. Single Arm Plank Blackburns: 4 x 10-15 sec each position
  4. Squat Series (not shown in video): 10 bodyweight squats, 10 bodyweight squats to jump x 3 times through WITHOUT resting. Rest for 1 minute at the end of the 3 rounds and repeat for a total of 3 sets.


You don’t need to invest thousands of dollars in fancy equipment or let your workout suffer because of a crammed gym.

Give these workouts a shot during your next training cycle. Post your favorite dumbbell exercises in the comments so you can help others add to their repertoire!


Joe Hashey, CSCS is the owner of Synergy Athletics in Endwell, NY. Joe has been a featured speaker around the country, including at the National Strength Training Conference in Las Vegas. He has also been featured in Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, and here on Art of Manliness! 

Joe has set up a few free videos and training guides for you here: Free stuff from Joe.

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