A Beginner-Friendly Dumbbell Workout You Can Do at Home

Working out at home requires little more than the motivation to slip into the right workout clothes and get moving. (Bonus: None of that gear needs to match!) And you can get a stellar sweat from the comfort of your living room doing body-weight exercises alone.

You can get a great workout at home with just a set of light dumbbells. (Image: Zinkevych/iStock/GettyImages)

But in order to turn up your at-home workout, there are some basic tools worth grabbing. Start with the basics: an exercise mat and a set of dumbbells. They come in all different weights, but choose a pair that you can move with comfortably before leveling up, 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.

Beginner-Friendly At-Home Dumbbell Workout

Before you get moving with this light dumbbell routine, remember: "Light" can mean different things for different people. You may realize that Head's workout below feels challenging with 5-pounders, or you might be just fine reaching for something closer to 10 (or more!). No matter how much weight you're ready for, practice the movement patterns without dumbbells first.

Perform eight to 12 repetitions (or until you can no longer maintain your form) of each exercise below and repeat for four sets. Rest 20 to 30 seconds between each set.

Move 1: Walking Lunge

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart holding the dumbbells at your sides.
  2. Take a large lunge step forward with your right leg, descending as you step until your knees both form 90-degree angles.
  3. Press through your right foot to stand back up and go straight into a left-leg forward lunge.
  4. Continue walking forward in this way.

Move 2: Squat Press

  1. Stand with feet hip-distance apart with the dumbbells at your shoulders, palms facing in.
  2. Push your hips back and bend your knees to descend until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor.
  3. Keep your weight in your heels and press back to standing.
  4. As you stand back up, press the weights overhead until your arms are straight.
  5. Return the weights to your shoulders and squat again.

Move 3: Step-Up

  1. Stand with a bench or chair in front of you or in front of a flight of stairs.
  2. Hold the dumbbells at your sides, palms in.
  3. Place your right foot on the bench and press through your heel to bring your left foot up so you're standing on the bench.
  4. Return to the ground, and repeat with the other leg.

Move 4: Push-Up and Row

  1. Start in a high plank with a dumbbell in each hand. Your hands should be directly beneath your shoulders, your body forming a straight line from head to heels.
  2. Bend your elbows to lower your chest until it touches the floor.
  3. Push back up.
  4. Pull your right hand (and the dumbbell) up to the side of your chest.
  5. Lower the dumbbell, perform another push-up and row with the other hand.
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