Dumbbells are some of the most popular pieces of exercise equipment in the world, and some of the most famous too, for good reason. They are an incredibly versatile piece of equipment when it comes to your arsenal of exercise, and you're never short on dumbbell workouts to choose from either.

You can use them to train almost every muscle group in the body, and extremely effectively at that. Many of us don't really think past using dumbbells for the classics; the bicep curl, the chest press, but they're often left out when it comes to the rest of the major muscle groups. We're here to change that.

These dumbbell workouts are reasonably simplistic since they're aimed for beginner to intermediate lifters, and can be done by most people of any fitness levels realistically. Just make sure you take the steps before exercising to make sure you don’t cause any damage to yourself. (Warming up is always worth the extra time. Trust us.)

Ensure you spend a while warming up the muscles you are going to be working so that you don’t pull any muscles, and make sure that you’re using a weight that is suitable for you, or you could well be wasting your time.

Sometimes it is also helpful to do some research into the exercises you’re going to be performing to really ensure that you know the technique properly and perform the exercises as well as you possibly can.

Back and Biceps

a person performing single arm rows

The first group we will cover is the back and biceps area. Make sure you are actively paying attention to these muscles during the full dumbbell workout in order to feel the best results. (The mind-muscle connection is a big thing after all).

These muscles complement each other nicely and are a logical pairing when it comes to a workout. It's a great idea to make a note of your performance, like how long it takes and what you are able to do, for future reference and track your progress.

Muscle group Exercise Reps Rest
Back Single Arm Rows 3x10 45 Seconds
Bent Rows 3x10 45 Seconds
Dumbbell Deadlift 3x10 45 Seconds
Biceps Hammer Curl 3x10 45 Seconds
Standard Curls 3x10 45 Seconds

Chest and Triceps

a person performing a dumbbell bench press

The next dumbbell workout muscle pairing is the chest and the triceps. these are arguably some of the best-suited muscles for a dumbbell workout by anyone's standard. They're some of the strongest and easiest to work with dumbbells in any scenario, and can be done almost anywhere with no other equipment needed. That's useful for home or gym workouts.

Pro tip: Perform the chest exercises flat on the floor to ensure you don’t bring your arms too low on relaxing. That helps really maximise the effort you can put into the workout without much risk of injury.

It's ideal to work the chest before the triceps due to the support needed from the triceps and the very likely possibility of the triceps becoming fatigued first. Working the triceps first will almost definitely lead to difficulty doing most chest exercises. That's how most push/pull/legs workout routines work to help maximise progress.

Muscle group Exercise Reps Rest
Chest Chest Press 4x12 45 Seconds
Dumbbell Flyes 4x12 45 Seconds
Straight Arm Pullover 4x12 45 Seconds
Triceps Overhead Extensions 4x12 45 Seconds
Tricep Kickbacks 4x12 45 Seconds

Legs and Shoulders

a person squatting with dumbbells

The legs are a very large, versatile muscle group. They require more effort to work for many people, which is not a good thing. To try and help, we've taken this into account by upping the rep standard so that you can really make the most of your efforts and see the best results every time you do the dumbbell workout. Make sure to warm up and cool down properly or you may well regret it the next couple of days!

Muscle group Exercise Reps Rest
Legs Squats 3x10 45 Seconds
Lunges 3x10 45 Seconds
Calf Raises 3x10 45 Seconds
Shoulders Shoulder Press 3x10 45 Seconds
Shrugs 3x10 45 Seconds


As well as these dumbbell workouts, the abs also need training in order to see impressive results across the full body, depending on what you are aiming to achieve with your toning.

These exercises are not too demanding and should be done at least with every other workout, with the potential for more as you see fit due to the abs being almost impossible to damage from overuse. Just hold the dumbbell securely as you do them for more advanced results. Training your abs with weights is a great way to do it after all.

Muscle group Exercise Time Rest
Abs Russian Twists 45 seconds 45 Seconds
Sit Ups 45 seconds 45 Seconds
Wood Chops 45 seconds 45 Seconds

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Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.