Dumbbell-Only Workout: Try This Full-Body Complex

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Workouts don’t need to be lengthy and complicated, or use lots of kit, to be effective. A simple, regular dumbbell-only workout is all you need for optimum fat loss.

This particular dumbbell-only workout is a ‘complex’ – a workout format that’s ironically very straightforward. You simply pick up the weight and don’t let go until you’ve performed every rep of every exercise. This is excellent for ramping up your metabolism to burn more calories – not to mention building cast-iron grip strength.

This unilateral workout will also test your abs. To strengthen your abdominal muscles you need to create instability that they’re forced to resist. Then, to reveal them, you need to burn more calories than you consume to strip away the fat. The dumbbell-only workout that follows achieves both.

“When you move with just one side of your body – which you do with every step – your core activates, stabilising your spine and pelvis and transferring power across your body,” says PT and creator of the workout Alex Gildea.

Doing the dumbbell workout as a complex also keeps the intensity high enough to melt fat. Here’s a quick summary (detailed instructions to follow):

Full-body workout using just one dumbbell

Personal trainer Alex Gildea recommends these six dumbbell workout moves to target your whole body and strengthen your core.

  1. Dumbbell clean and press x 5 reps each side
  2. Dumbbell reverse lunge x 5 reps each side
  3. Dumbbell bent-over row x 5 reps each side
  4. Dumbbell front squat x 5 reps each side
  5. Dumbbell curl and press x 5 reps each side
  6. Dumbbell Romanian deadlift x 5 reps each side

How to do the single-dumbbell workout

  • Holding the dumbbell in your right hand, do all the reps of all six exercises before restarting with the weight in your left hand.
  • Do 5 reps (each side) for each exercise.
  • Rest for 60 secs at the end of one round.
  • Do 5 rounds in total

No time? No worries! Burn fat with this quick dumbbell-only workout

The three stages to the clean and press, the first exercise in this dumbbell-only workout: grabbing the dumbbell with legs bent; standing to ‘catch’ the weight at shoulder height; extending to push the weight above head height.

The clean and press – the first exercise in PT Alex Gildea’s dumbbell-only workout

1a. Dumbbell Clean and Press

Reps: 5 each side
Rest: Go straight into 1b

  • Choose which arm is going to take the punishment first as you begin your dumbbell workout.
  • Keep the weight in this hand for all six exercises before switching.
  • Grab the dumbbell with legs bent and your eyes looking forwards.
  • Drive up and pull the weight from the floor to chest height, then drop under it to ‘catch’ it at shoulder height.
  • Straighten your legs to stand and press the weight overhead.

PT tip: “Exhale during the clean, then inhale, then exhale again on the press to brace your core and stop lateral flexion of your spine,” says Gildea.

The two positions in the reverse lunge exercise in the dumbbell workout: standing with the weight at waist height; lowered with one knee bent and the other pushed straight out behind

1b. Single-Dumbbell Reverse Lunge

Reps: 5 each side
Rest: Go straight into 1c

  • With the weight at waist height, take a big step backwards with one foot.
  • Brace your core to keep your balance and keep your torso upright, then lower until your knee is just off the floor.
  • Drive back up to the start.

PT Tip: ”The reverse lunge is a great stretch for your hip flexors. Remember to engage your core first, then move to stop your pelvis rotating.”

The two positions in the bent-over row exercise in the dumbbell workout: bent over at the hips with the weight extended towards the floor; bent over at the hips with the weight pulled up towards the armpit

1c. Single-Dumbbell Bent-Over Row 

Reps: 5 each side
Rest: Go straight into 1d

  • With a slight bend in your legs, hinge forwards at your hips until your back is almost parallel with the floor.
  • Keeping your core tight to keep your pelvis level, row the weight up towards your armpit so you feel a squeeze in your upper back, then lower to the start.

PT Tip: ”Push your hips back to straighten your back and engage your core – it should feel like you’re wearing a tight belt.”

The two positions in the front squat exercise in the dumbbell-only workout: standing with the weight at shoulder height; squatting, with the weight at shoulder height

1d. Single-Dumbbell Front Squat

Reps: 5 each side
Rest: Go straight into 1e

  • With the dumbbell at shoulder height, keep your core tight and bend your legs to lower into a squat with your chest up.
  • Keep your knees wide and drive your hips forwards to generate power as you stand.

PT Tip: “Squeeze your free hand into a tight fist to increase tension in your body to keep your torso strong”

The three positions in the curl and press exercise in the dumbbell workout: standing with the weight to the side at hip height; standing with the weight at shoulder height; standing with the weight pushed full length above head height

1e. Single-Dumbbell Curl and Press

Reps: 5 each side
Rest: Go straight into 1f

  • Keeping your elbow tight to your side, curl the dumbbell from your hip to your shoulder, then press it overhead until your arm is completely straight.
  • Reverse the move back to the start.

PT Tip: “Contract your glutes and core to stop your back hyperextending during the press.”

The two positions in the Romanian deadlift, the final exercise in the dumbbell workout: standing with the weight in front at hip height; standing and bent forward with the weight outstretched towards the floor

1f. Single-Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift 

Reps: 5 each side
Rest: 60 secs, then repeat 1a

  • With the weight in front of your thigh and a very slight bend in your knees, lower the dumbbell down your leg until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.
  • Drive your hips forwards to return to the start.
  • That’s half the battle.
  • Switch the weight to your other hand and repeat all the exercises, then – relief – you can rest.

PT Tip: “Progress to doing this on one leg. Contract the glute on your free leg to improve balance and allow a deeper stretch on the working hamstrings.”

RELATED CONTENT:

  1. Best dumbbell workouts and exercises for each body part
  2. Best full-body workout to try at home
  3. Home dumbbell HIIT workout for a full-body burn

The post Dumbbell-Only Workout: Try This Full-Body Complex appeared first on MensFitness.



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