Total-Body Dumbbell Workout

Prevent strength plateaus with this routine.

Mixing up your workouts (and the order in which you do each movement) every four to six weeks is key for improving fitness, says Webb Travis, a group fitness instructor and Tier 3+ personal trainer at Equinox Newport Beach in California. “You want to shock the body by throwing it a curve ball here and there so muscle memory doesn’t take over.”

An easy way to do that: periodically perform a new routine, like the one below. Together, the six moves strengthen the largest muscles of your lower body, as well as your shoulders, arms, and back. All you need is two dumbbells. Perform the exercises as a circuit, aiming for 3 to 5 rounds. 

Turkish Get-Up
Hold a dumbbell in left hand and sit on the floor with right leg extended and right hand on the floor under your right shoulder. Bend left knee and extend left arm straight overhead. Push your hips up as high as you can, then drop your right knee underneath you, turn torso forward, and stand. Reverse the movement to return to the start position. Do 15 to 20 reps, then repeat on opposite side to complete set.

Seated Shoulder Press
Sit on a bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand, with back tall, knees bent in front of you and feet flat on floor. Bring arms into a goalpost position, with elbows in line with shoulders, palms facing forward. Keeping shoulders down, press dumbbells directly overhead without locking elbows; slowly lower back to goalpost position and repeat. Do 8 reps.

Pulse Squat into Curtsy Lunge

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a heavy dumbbell in each hand, arms extended by sides. Bend elbows by sides, bringing weights up to shoulder-height in front of you, and then squat, sinking glutes down, bending knees 90 degrees. Pulse once in squat position, and then press through heels to stand back up. Lunge left leg back and to the right of your right knee, bending both knees, and extending arms down by sides. Return to start; switch sides and repeat. Continue for 1 minute.

Forward Lunge and Curl
Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended at sides and palms facing each other, and stand with feet hip-width apart. Take a big step forward with left foot and bend both knees into a lunge as you simultaneously bend right elbow, curling weight toward your shoulder. Step back and extend right arm to starting position and repeat. Do 10 to 15 reps, then switch sides to complete set. 

Single-Arm Snatch
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulders and hold a dumbbell in right hand, arms extended at your sides. Push hips back and bend knees as you lower the dumbbell between your legs, then immediately extend the hips as you drive your elbow vertically pulling the weight up, keeping it close to the body and catching it over head. Return to start. Do 5 reps on one side, then switch sides and repeat.

Straight-Leg Deadlift with Knee Raise
Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms at sides, palms facing each other. Hinge forward from hips, lifting left leg behind you, lowering weights towards the floor until torso is parallel to the ground and your spine forms a straight line. As you return to standing, bring your left knee up towards your chest until it forms a 90-degree angle. That’s one rep. Do 12 to 20 reps, then repeat on opposite side.