This Single Dumbbell Exercise Will Strengthen Your Entire Physique In Simply 5 Strikes


Don’t have a ton of weight training equipment at your disposal? No problem. We have a great single dumbbell workout that will challenge your entire body with just one weight. It’s a solid routine to have in your home strength training arsenal because it requires minimal equipment, pretty much punches all your major muscle groups and can be easily increased or reduced at different fitness levels.

Before we start training, let’s talk about what makes a quality full-body routine and how you can get a challenging enough workout with just one dumbbell, regardless of its weight.

A good full-body workout includes exercises that hit major movement patterns, including squats, articulation, pushing, pulling, planking, and spinning.

“Ensuring you move your body through all major movement patterns can help ensure that all major muscle groups are covered,” ACSM Certified Personal Trainer Asher Freemancreator of the Non-normative Body Club in Philadelphia, says SELF.

By focusing on movement patterns, you’re also more likely to include movements that have you working on multiple planes of movement, rather than just one. Many of us tend to live in the sagittal plane of motion, which involves moving back and forth, or bending or extending the joints, like in a squat. But by remembering to rotate in it (a movement in the transverse plane), you can better improve your functional movement. This is important because it can help ensure that you are not creating a strength imbalance or worsening imbalances you already have.

Now, if you only have one dumbbell, there are plenty of ways to increase the intensity to make the movement challenge you, even if the weight is lighter than what you would normally use for certain exercises. Since you can’t add more weight to increase the difficulty, a simple trick is to increase the volume by adding more reps or sets, Freeman says. You can also make things more difficult by decreasing the speed at which you perform reps or pausing at the most difficult point of the exercise (like at the bottom of a squat, for example) to increase the time during which your muscles are under tension.

On the other hand, you can reduce the intensity of a single-dumbbell workout by doing fewer reps or sets, replacing difficult moves with more beginner-friendly options, ditching your dumbbell, and doing movements with just your body weight, or decreasing the balance challenge of a movement.

The following single-dumbbell workout, which Freeman created for SELF, targets your entire body and includes plenty of options for modifications and progressions. You can do this five-move routine as often as every other day, Freeman says — just be sure to take a rest day in between. If you’re doing other strength exercises in addition to this routine, be sure to space out your workouts so they’re not back-to-back.

Also important: If this workout is part of a new or strengthened fitness routine, you may experience soreness for the next 72 hours. That’s totally OK, says Freeman. If, however, your delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, lasts longer than 72 hours or is so severe that you cannot go about your daily activities, it is a sign that you have gone a bit too hard. in which case you should dial down the intensity of this workout until your body adapts.

Last thing. Before embarking on this workout, be sure to warm up your body first so you don’t start out with cold muscles or joints, which can increase your risk of injury. Here’s a five-move routine that can get the job done.

Ready to seriously challenge your whole body with a single dumbbell workout? Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about this simple yet super effective routine.


What do you need: A moderate weight dumbbell. The correct weight for you will depend on your fitness level and other factors, but as a starting point, Freeman recommends between 10 and 15 pounds. (Of course, you can use any dumbbell, just adjust the reps accordingly!)


  • One arm chest press
  • goblet squat
  • Single arm row supported by a bench
  • Single leg deadlift
  • Russian twist


  • Perform each movement for the indicated number of repetitions, resting as needed between exercises. Once you’ve completed all five movements, rest for at least 60 seconds. Complete two to three rounds in total.
  • Quick Start: Since this workout only involves one dumbbell, the rep range will vary from exercise to exercise. Be prepared to do more reps of moves that work larger muscle groups (like the squat) and fewer reps of moves that work smaller muscle groups (like the chest press).

Dumbbells we love:

Amazon Basics Hex Dumbbell

The textured, contoured handle makes this 10-pound dumbbell easy to use, and its hexagonal shape means you don’t have to worry about it rolling.

Amazon Neoprene Dumbbells (set of 2)

Thanks to the neoprene coating, these 12-pound dumbbells are easy to grip and comfortable to handle, whether you’re pressing or pulling.

Demonstration of the movements below are Erica Gibbons (GIF 1), a California-based personal trainer and graduate student earning a marriage and family therapist license; Francine Delgado-Lugo (GIF 2), co-founder of FORM Fitness Brooklyn; Rachel Dennis (GIF 3), a powerlifter who rivals USA Powerlifting; Jeanette Eng (GIF 4), a New York-based NASM-certified personal trainer and actress; and Heather Boddy (GIF 5), group fitness instructor and creator of the Geeknasium training program.

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