The Ultimate Workout to Start Strength Training at Home

You don't need fancy gym equipment to strength train at home. (Image: MilanMarkovic/iStock/GettyImages)

You don't need to spend a fortune or install a giant piece of new fitness furniture to get fit and build muscle in your home. There are at-home TRX workouts, resistance band workouts and even simple body-weight workouts that'll get the job done even in the smallest spaces.

Another easy go-to? Dumbbells. Not only are they inexpensive, but they're also a versatile, easy-to-use tool you can grab for a variety of different workouts.

Just like other exercise equipment, you'll find various different types of dumbbells on Amazon and at your nearest sporting goods store. Adjustable dumbbells are a fantastic option for a compact, at-home system and will allow you to do almost any strength training workout in a spare bedroom or basement. But if you're not in the market to shell out $250 or more at the start, you can grab just a few pairs of fixed-weight dumbbells and still get a great workout.

"I would recommend buying a pair you can grow into rather than grow out of," says Steven Head, a master trainer at Sport & Health in McLean, Virginia, and the author of Not Another Fitness Book: A Memoir. A Manual. A Message for 49 Million Baby Boomers. "If you buy a heavier pair, you can do certain exercises now for five or six reps. Two months down the road, you can do those moves with 10 or 12 repetitions."

Strength Training at Home With Dumbbells

Reach for a heavier pair of dumbbells and try a workout comprised of these five moves from Head. Do five sets of five reps of each exercise to start, progressing to more repetitions over time. Rest 30 seconds between each move.

Move 1: Dumbbell Squat

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly out from parallel, dumbbells hanging at your sides, palms facing in.
  2. Push your hips back and bend your knees to descend until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor, keeping your chest up and your weight on your heels.
  3. Keep the weight of your body in your heels and press back to standing.

Move 2: Dumbbell Deadlift

  1. Stand with the dumbbells in front of you.
  2. Bend at your hips and knees to grab the weights a little wider than shoulder width with an overhand grip.
  3. Keeping your weight in your heels and maintaining the natural curve of your spine, pull the dumbbells up as you thrust your hips forward and stand.
  4. Reverse the maneuver until the dumbbells reach your shins.
  5. Repeat.

Move 3: Dumbbell Single-Arm Row

  1. Place your left knee on a weight bench, bend your torso forward and place your left hand on the bench to support your body.
  2. Reach down and grab the dumbbell with your right hand, returning to this position where your body is parallel to the floor.
  3. Pull your right arm up until your hand reaches the side of your chest.
  4. Lower the weight back down and repeat.
  5. Do all your reps on this side, switch sides and repeat.

Move 4: Dumbbell Floor Press

  1. Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Your upper arms should be at your sides.
  2. Hold the dumbbells up over your elbows.
  3. Pressing your mid- and upper back into the floor, press the weights straight up over your chest.
  4. Bend your elbow to return to start and repeat.

Move 5: Farmer's Walk

  1. Stand with heavy dumbbells next to your feet.
  2. Push your hips back to squat down and lift the dumbbells, driving through your heels to stand up and hold them at your sides. Your shoulders should be back, chest out and head directly in line with your shoulders.
  3. Brace your core and walk forward, keeping the dumbbells at your sides, for a distance of about 50 feet.
  4. Place the dumbbells on the floor, rest for 30 seconds and repeat four more times.
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