Home Dumbbell Workout (9 Exercises)

This home dumbbell workout gives you the tools to build strength, increase muscle mass, and improve your overall fitness, all in the comfort of your own home.

With just a set of dumbbells and a little space, you can perform a highly effective full-body workout that targets all major muscle groups. In this article, you’ll find easy-to-follow instructions on performing each exercise and tips for proper form.

Who Is This Workout For?

This workout is primarily tailored for beginners new to strength training and intermediate-level trainees. It will help you build muscle, get stronger, and improve your general fitness, or, if you are already in shape, stay there.

It is available in the StrengthLog workout log app, which you can download for free with the button for your device:

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You can use this dumbbell workout to add mass to your frame or to lose fat. During a caloric surplus, it’ll help you gain muscle over your entire body, and if you’re on a weight-loss diet, it’ll ensure you’re losing fat, not muscle.

Age is just a number: anyone from adolescents to centenarians benefits from resistance exercise. This workout benefits young and old alike.

In short, this workout is for anyone who wants to build muscle and strength at home using dumbbells.

OK, almost anyone.

It’s not intended for high-level bodybuilders and powerlifters looking to maximize their potential. But even then, you can use it to stay in shape when you don’t have access to a fully equipped gym. Provided you can find dumbbells suitable for your strength level.

Benefits of Full-Body Workouts

Full-body training has been a mainstay for building muscle and total-body strength for over a century. It’s an excellent introduction to strength training for the beginner and ideally suited for a home dumbbell workout for several reasons.

  • Full-body workouts allow you to target all major muscle groups in one session and save time.
  • You allow for plenty of recovery time and a high training frequency, 
  • Full-body workouts require the use of multiple muscle groups, which increases the number of calories you expend. That’s a good reason to include full body workouts for weight loss and burning fat.
  • Full-body training is ideal for home workouts as they are easy to complete without a fully equipped gym. A simple workout using only dumbbells can give you excellent results.
This is what your muscle map in the StrengthLog workout tracker looks like after completing this workout for the entire body.

Benefits of Dumbbell Workouts

You can build muscle and gain strength using many kinds of training equipment (or none at all): barbells, bodyweight exercises, machines, or resistance bands, to mention a few. There are several benefits to dumbbell workouts. Here are some of the key ones:

  • Dumbbells are versatile pieces of equipment that you can use to perform a variety of movements to target all major muscle groups in your body and train in all planes of motion.
  • Dumbbell weight training allows you to work out at home, which is ideal for saving time on a busy schedule.
  • They are convenient, take up little space, and are easily stored at home for your workout whenever you have time.
  • Dumbells are proven effective for building muscle and gaining strength: one of the best ways to get the results you want.

How Heavy Dumbbells Do You Need?

It’s difficult to say precisely how light or heavy dumbbells you need. It depends on your strength level, training experience, and the exercise.

Weights suitable for you might be too heavy for someone else, and vice versa, and you’ll want heavier dumbbell for leg training than for bicep curls, for example.

While you can get a quality full-body home workout using fixed dumbbells, I suggest you get one or two pairs of adjustable dumbbells.

adjustable dumbbells

You can quickly change to the suitable weights mid-workout as needed with the flip of a switch, allowing you to perform various exercises requiring different loads without having an arsenal of dumbbells.

Warming Up to Prepare for Your Home Dumbbell Workout

Warm muscles are high-performing muscles. While you might be eager to jump straight into the lifting, it’s a good idea to take the time to warm up before doing so. 

  • Start with 5–10 minutes of light cardio, such as jogging in place or jumping jacks, to get your blood moving and to increase your heart rate and body temperature.
  • Perform some dynamic stretches that target your major muscle groups. For example, 15–20  leg swings, arm circles, and torso twists will help mobilize your hips, shoulders, and core.
  • Activate your muscles and get those fibers to fire by targeting specific muscles you will be working. Perform 2–3 circuits of 15–20 air squats, wall push-ups, and band pull-aparts (provided you have an elastic resistance band) to activate your glutes, chest, and upper back.
  • Finally, perform 1–2 lighter sets of the exercise you will do first in your workout. In this workout, that means goblet or dumbbell squats. Use a lighter weight and good form for some lower body and core work to get ready for the heavier weights.

Home Dumbbell Workout Overview

This full body dumbbell workout only requires a set of dumbbells, nothing more. A training bench is useful but not required, and you’ll get excellent alternative exercises for an effective workout without one.

The workout contains nine of the best strength training exercises to give you the most bang for your training buck in one time-efficient total-body workout.

  1. Goblet Squat
  2. Dumbbell Squat
  3. Dumbbell Lunge
  4. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift
  5. Dumbbell Chest Press
  6. Dumbbell Row
  7. Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  8. Dumbbell Curl
  9. Dumbbell Triceps Extension

Let’s take a closer look at each exercise! You’ll learn the benefits of each, how to perform them correctly, and some pro tips on how to get the most out of them.

Goblet Squat

The goblet squat is an excellent exercise for any fitness level, but in particular, it makes a perfect beginner dumbbell exercise for the quads and glutes. 

Not only is it effective for building lower body strength and muscle mass, but it’s also a simple exercise, easy for the beginner to master.

The front-loaded position forces you to maintain an upright torso, engages your core, and automatically introduces you to proper squat form and technique. It’s an excellent dumbbell-only alternative to barbell front squats without the high mobility requirements.

How to Perform the Goblet Squat

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width, holding a single dumbbell or kettlebell with both hands at chest level, close to your body, and with your toes pointing slightly outward.
  2. Inhale, brace your core muscles and keep your chest up with your shoulders back and down.
  3. From the starting position, squat down as deep as you can comfortably go. At the bottom of the squat, your elbows should be inside your knees.
  4. Straighten your legs and return to the standing position, exhaling and pushing your hips forward as you rise.
  5. Repeat the movement for your desired number of repetitions.

The only drawback of the goblet squat is that you eventually outgrow it. As you get stronger, you require heavier weights. Before you know it, weight progression becomes awkward as your leg strength surpasses your arm and shoulder strength.

That’s when it’s time to switch to the dumbbell squat.

Dumbbell Squat

The squat is one of the best exercises for building muscle and strength in your lower body, and the dumbbell squat is a great addition to your home workout.

Dumbbell squats are the perfect next step up from goblet squats because using two dumbbells instead of one allows you to keep up with your strength improvements. Progressive overload over time is the number one factor for muscle growth and overall strength gains.

If you find it challenging to hold as much weight as you need because of your grip, don’t hesitate to use a pair of lifting straps to hold onto the dumbbells.

How to Perform the Dumbbell Squat

  1. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, holding a pair of dumbbells in your hands with your upper arms extended down by your sides, palms facing inwards.
  2. Inhale and brace your core muscles to stabilize your spine and pelvis during the movement.
  3. Squat down as deep as you comfortably can. Keep your knees tracking over your toes and maintain a straight back throughout the movement.
  4. At the bottom of the squat position, when your thighs are parallel to the ground or slightly lower, reverse the movement and return to a standing position, exhaling on the way up.
  5. Repeat the movement for your desired number of repetitions.

Dumbbell Lunge

The dumbbell lunge is a fantastic exercise for improving lower and full body strength and stability and for building muscle mass in your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings.

Because it is a unilateral exercise, meaning you work one side of your body at a time, it’ll also help improve your balance and coordination, translating both into other strength-training movements and everyday life.

If you find the movement stressful on your knees, try performing a reverse lunge instead by taking a step backward instead of forward. Some find that variation to be easier on the knee joints.

How to Perform the Dumbbell Lunge

  1. Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing inwards.
  2. Lower your body towards the ground by bending your front knee and lowering your back knee until it almost touches the floor.
  3. Return to a standing position by pushing yourself up with your front leg.
  4. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions, switch legs, and perform the exercise on the other side.

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

We’re staying with lower-body training but moving from the quads to the posterior chain for the following exercise: the dumbbell Romanian deadlift,

This strength exercise targets your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back and is a dumbbell workout plan cornerstone for training your posterior chain.

How to Perform the Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing your body.
  2. Hinge at the hips by pushing your buttocks back and bending slightly at the knees. Keep your back straight, your shoulders pulled back and down, and your core engaged.
  3. Maintain a neutral spine as you lower the dumbbells. The dumbbells should travel along the front of your thighs.
  4. Lower the dumbbells until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, but do not allow your back to round. Make sure to maintain a slight bend in your knees to reduce stress on your lower back.
  5. Pause for a moment at the bottom of the movement, then exhale as you slowly lift the dumbbells back up by contracting your hamstrings and glutes. Keep your arms straight throughout the exercise.
  6. Return to the starting position by standing upright, with your hips fully extended, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.
  7. Repeat the movement for your desired number of repetitions.

Dumbbell Chest Press

Time to train the upper body, starting with your chest muscles!

Your choice of exercise depends on whether you have access to a training bench.

If you have one, you’re doing the dumbbell bench press. If you don’t, it’s the dumbbell floor press to the rescue.

Both are great exercises for building muscle size and strength in your chest, shoulders, and triceps. Performing the dumbbell chest press on a flat bench provides you the advantage of a full range of motion, but the floor press allows you to give your pecs a good workout, even if your home gym consists of only a few dumbbells.

How to Perform the Dumbbell Chest Press

  1. Lie flat on a bench with your feet firmly planted on the ground and your shoulder blades squeezed together.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and position them on either side of your chest with your upper arms parallel to the floor and your palms facing forward. 
  3. Press the dumbbells up toward the ceiling, fully extending your arms.
  4. Lower the dumbbells slowly and under control back to the sides of your chest. 
  5. Repeat the movement for your desired number of repetitions.

How to Perform the Dumbbell Floor Press

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight and a pair of dumbbells beside you.
  2. Pick the dumbbells up and place them in your hip creak.
  3. Lay down while you bring the dumbbells up to your chest.
  4. Press the dumbbells to straight arms, bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the floor.
  5. Lower the dumbbells slowly until the back of the arms hit the floor, keeping your lower and upper back on the floor at all times.
  6. Reverse the motion and push the dumbbells up to straight arms again.
  7. Repeat the movement for your desired number of repetitions, then gently drop the dumbbells to the floor to finish the set.

Dumbbell Row

The dumbbell row is not just one of the best dumbbell exercises for your back; it’s one of the best back exercises, period. It targets several different muscle groups: your lats, rhomboids, traps, rear deltoids, and even your biceps.

The dumbbell row is a unilateral exercise, meaning you train one side of your body at a time. You ensure that each side is working equally, which helps improve muscle balance and symmetry.

If you have a training bench, stabilize your body against it. If you don’t, you can use anything stable in your home, like a chair or a couch. When rowing with your right arm, place your left leg on the chair and your right foot on the floor. Conversely, put your right leg up and your left foot down when rowing with your left arm.

How to Perform the Dumbbell Row

  1. Place a dumbbell on the floor beside a bench or chair. Stand facing the bench or chair and place your left hand and left knee on top of it. 
  2. Grip the dumbbell with your right hand and pull the dumbbell up, keeping your elbow close to your body.
  3. Pull the weight until it touches the side of your body, around the belly button level. Keep your back flat and parallel to the ground throughout the movement.
  4. Contract your lats and squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement, then lower the dumbbell back down to the start position with your arm fully extended.
  5. Go for a complete range of motion with a nice stretch at the bottom, then repeat the movement for your desired number of repetitions.
  6. Place your right knee on the bench or chair, grip the dumbbell with your left hand, and repeat the movement for the other side of the body.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

The overhead press is the number one exercise for overall shoulder strength and size. The dumbbell shoulder press effectively targets your front and side delts and allows you to use heavy weights for the best results.

Remember to maintain proper form and avoid using your entire body to push the weights up. 

You can perform the shoulder presses seated if you prefer.

How to Perform the Dumbbell Shoulder Press

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bring the dumbbells up to shoulder level with your palms facing forward.
  2. Engage your core and press the dumbbells up overhead, fully extending your arms.
  3. Pause momentarily at the top of the movement, then slowly lower the dumbbells back down to shoulder height.
  4. Repeat the movement for your desired number of repetitions.

Dumbbell Curl

The biceps are the most important body part for many people, and to isolate them, you have to curl.

The dumbbell bicep curl is easy to perform, gives you a great pump, and will help build shapely, muscular arms.

How to Perform the Dumbbell Curl

  1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and a pair of dumbbells in your hands. 
  2. Your palms should be facing forward, holding the dumbbells at your sides using an underhand grip.
  3. From the start position, curl the dumbbells up to shoulder level, keeping your elbows in place and your wrist straight. Moving your elbows slightly forward is OK if that feels more natural.
  4. Pause briefly at the top of the movement and squeeze your bicep muscles to contract them fully, then slowly lower the dumbbell back down to the starting position.
  5. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.

Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension

There are many excellent tricep exercises to choose from for your for home dumbbell workout, but the lying triceps extension might be the cream of the crop.

While pressing exercises work your triceps, they fail to fully activate the long head, which is the one that contributes the most to your upper arm size. The lying extension, however, places your upper arms in a position that maximally activates all three heads of the triceps.

How to Perform the Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension

  1. Lie down on a flat bench with your feet on the floor and a dumbbell in each hand. If you don’t have a bench, lie on a carpet or an exercise mat instead.
  2. Raise the dumbbells over your chest with your palms facing each other and your arms extended.
  3. Keep your elbows pointing straight up and lower the dumbbells behind your head, bending your elbows.
  4. Lower the dumbbells as far as comfortable while maintaining control and tension in your triceps muscles. If you’re performing the exercise without a bench, lower the dumbbells until they are about to touch the floor.
  5. Reverse the motion and extend your arms back up to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Putting It All Together: The Best Home Dumbbell Workout

Now it’s time to get to work with not one but two excellent full-body dumbbell workouts: one for beginners and one for intermediate-level trainees. Stick with them, and you’ll quickly build strength and see noticeable changes in your physique.

The main difference between the two workouts is the training volume: as a beginner, you only require a few sets for each muscle for great results, but as your body gains training experience, you must do more work to keep the gains coming.

How do you know which workout is right for you?

Beginner Workout

You’re new to weight training or back to lifting after a long layoff. This workout eases you into strength and fitness with straightforward exercises, quick training sessions, and rapid progression.

Intermediate-Level Workout

You have at least a few months of strength-training experience, and your body is ready for more work. More training volume equals more gains with this balanced workout.

Regardless of experience, perform this workout twice or thrice weekly, and try to beat last week’s performance. Feel free to log your sessions in our free workout app to help you track your progress. Both workouts are already available in the app for hassle-free training and logging.

Three sessions per week offer slightly better results than two if it means a greater total training volume. But if you can only do two, rest assured that it is enough to see significant strength and muscle gain as long as you push yourself.

Feel free to rest for as long or short between sets as you need and have time for.

  • Both short (≤60 seconds) and longer rest intervals are helpful for muscle growth. 
  • If your primary goal is increasing your strength, you want to rest longer between sets, two minutes or more, to allow you to use as heavy weights as possible.

The length of your rest periods isn’t very important for general fitness, so feel free to save time by keeping a high tempo in your workouts or taking as long as you want to recover adequately. A high-intensity 20-minute workout with very little rest between sets can feel great, as can taking your time and resting until you feel adequately recovered. Both are valid approaches to strength training.

Home Dumbbell Workout for Beginners

This full-body dumbbell workout targets all major muscle groups in your body. You start with compound exercises for your lower body, then move to your upper body, and finish with isolation movements. Training your legs and glutes takes the most out of you, and you don’t want to save the most demanding exercises for last.

  1. Goblet Squat: 2 sets x 10–12 reps
  2. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift: 2 sets x 10–12 reps
  3. Dumbbell Chest Press or Dumbbell Floor Press: 2 sets x 10–12 reps
  4. Dumbbell Row: 2 sets x 10–12 reps
  5. Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 2 sets x 10–12 reps
  6. Dumbbell Curl: 1 sets x 10–12 reps
  7. Dumbbell Triceps Extension: 1 sets x 10–12 reps

You only do one set each for your biceps and triceps because they are heavily involved when you train back, chest, and triceps.

Perform this workout two or three times per week, and you’ll soon see strength gains and add lean muscle to your frame.


Home Dumbbell Workout for Intermediates

The workout takes a little longer at the intermediate level because you need more work to keep progressing. You add the dumbbell lunge for additional lower body work and perform more sets for each exercise.

  1. Dumbbell Squat: 3 sets x 8–12 reps
  2. Dumbbell Lunge: 3 sets x 8–12 reps
  3. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift: 3 sets x 8–12 reps
  4. Dumbbell Chest Press or Dumbbell Floor Press: 4 sets x 8–12 reps
  5. Dumbbell Row: 4 sets x 8–12 reps
  6. Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 sets x 8–12 reps 
  7. Dumbbell Curl: 2 sets x 8–12 reps
  8. Dumbbell Triceps Extension: 2 sets x 8–12 reps

Keep up the hard work with two to three weekly sessions; the results will follow.

Track Your Progress with StrengthLog

There you do! Whether your goal is to burn fat, build muscle, get stronger, or all three, this home dumbbell workout will help you reach your fitness goals.

A workout log is the best way to keep track of your progress. 

Remember that progressive overload is the key to consistent gains over time. To continue making progress, you must gradually increase the demands on your muscles.

A training log helps you stay consistent, set and achieve specific goals, track your progress over time, identify patterns in your training, and hold yourself accountable to your fitness goals. 

StrengthLog is 100% free to download and use as a workout tracker and general strength training app. All the basic functionality is free – forever. It’s like a personal trainer in your pocket.

Download StrengthLog for free, keep track of your weights and reps, and try to beat your previous numbers each workout. 

Download StrengthLog Workout Log on App Store
Download StrengthLog Workout Log on Google Play Store

Good luck with your training!

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Andreas Abelsson

Andreas is a certified nutrition coach with over three decades of training experience. He has followed and reported on the research fields of exercise, nutrition, and health for almost as long and is a specialist in metabolic health and nutrition coaching for athletes. Read more about Andreas and StrengthLog by clicking here.