10 workouts you can do with 2 dumbbells

10 workouts you can do with 2 dumbbells


A COMPONENT OF many great resistance trainingprograms, dumbbells are an undeniably effective training tool. Aside from helping you build strength and promoting hypertrophy, they will hammer your stabilizer muscles and may also address muscle imbalances since they allow you to perform a combination of lateral and bilateral movements.

It’s a good idea to have a set of dumbbells at home for those days when you can’t get to the gym. As far as what to do with them—we’ve got you covered. These workouts were provided by Luke Pelton, C.S.C.S., N.S.C.A.-C.P.T., a competitive powerlifting coach and weight training instructor based in New York.

Instructions: If you’re looking for a total body workout, skip to slide 8. The first seven workouts are broken up into upper body push, upper body pull, a combo, lower body power, lower body strength, and core. You can slate out your week where you change your focus daily (For example: Monday is upper body push, Tuesday is lower body power, Wednesday is upper body pull, and Thursday is lower body strength). For a longer workout, feel free to pair up the workouts. For instance, you may wish to pair one of the push workouts with a pull workout or an upper body with a lower body one; you might also finish any of these workouts with the core workout (slide 10).

For the ultimate motivator, don’t forget to pick the right music to keep you moving through any and all of these routines. Here’s more info on how to create the perfect playlist.

*Rest should be no more than 90 seconds to 2 minutes between each set.

Upper Push 1 (Chest/Shoulders/Tris)

a. DB Floor Press

Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet on the floor. Grasp the dumbbells at your chest as you slowly lower your upper body to the floor. Extend the arms so that the dumbbells are in a bench press position. Lower the elbows to the floor, making sure to keep tension in the lats so that the upper arms are at 45 degrees to the torso. When your elbows touch the floor, extend the arms to the starting position. Perform 8-12 reps for 3-4 sets. Note: Be careful not to lose tension and collapse when the elbows touch the floor.

b. Wall Press

Begin standing with the dumbbells at the shoulders to perform a shoulder press. Approach a wall you don’t care too much about the appearance of; a basement or garage works great for this. Stand as close to the wall as possible and perform a shoulder press. The proximity to the wall will force you to maintain a proper movement path with the dumbbells. Note: start slightly away from the wall to get a feel for the exercise, and slowly move closer as your range of motion allows for it. Perform this movement for 4-5 sets of 6-8 reps.

c. Skullcrushers

Begin similar to the floor press, lying on the floor with the knees bent and the arms extended above the shoulders. With a neutral hand grip, carefully lower the dumbbells to the forehead. Contract the triceps to extend the elbows and return to the starting position. Note: perform these with light weight to start and focus on keeping the elbows in line with the shoulders. Perform this movement for 4-5 sets of 6-10 reps.

Upper Push 2 (chest/shoulders/tris)

a. DB Overhead press

Begin with the dumbbells at shoulder height, roughly over the collarbone. Palms can either be facing away for a pronated grip, facing each other for a neutral grip, or at an angle between the two, depending on personal comfort. Keeping a neutral back by bracing the core, push the weights up and slightly back so that the biceps are in line with the ears when the arms are fully extended. Return the dumbbells with control to their starting position. Do 3-5 sets of 6-12 reps with a moderate weight.

b. Bent-over kickbacks

Note: This exercise will be performed with one dumbbell at a time. Take a staggered stance and hinge forward at the hip, placing your left hand on a couch/table/object with the right hand, holding a dumbbell, hanging straight down. Row the dumbbell up to slightly below chest height to assume the starting position. While keeping the upper arm in line with the torso, extend the forearm backwards by contracting the triceps. Return the dumbbell to the starting position to complete one rep. Perform 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps on each arm.

c. The Shoulder Farm

Note: This may be best performed with lighter dumbbells to start! Begin by performing a front delt raise with one dumbbell; hold the dumbbell out in the top position. Then, perform a set of 8-10 shoulder presses with the opposite arm. Switch arms and repeat. This is one set; it may be enough! Focus on bracing the core to stabilize the upper body so that the work is being performed by the shoulder muscles. Try not to compensate by leaning back at the waist.