It's easy to see now how we took for granted the many bells and whistles of our gyms. Barbells and weight plates, cable machines and treadmills — it was right there for the taking. But while having access to all that equipment was convenient, it's not the only way to get a good workout.
Really, all you need for an effective full-body training session is a single 10-pound weight. Before you raise an eyebrow, give this single-dumbbell workout a try, courtesy of K. Aleisha Fetters, CSCS. You can increase your dumbbell weight as needed or stick with the recommended 10 pounds.
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In Need of a Dumbbell?
Try This Single-Dumbbell Workout
1. Single-Leg Deadlift
- Stand with a dumbbell in your right hand, feet planted about hip-width apart.
- Engage your core as you begin to raise your left leg straight behind you, hinging your hips back and supporting yourself with your right leg, bending the right knee slightly.
- At the same time, lower the dumbbell toward the ground, keeping the weight relatively close to your body and your back flat.
- Once your torso is parallel to the ground, push your hips forward and reverse the motion to return to standing.
- Perform all your reps, then switch sides.
2. Single-Arm Hammer Curl to Overhead Press
- Stand tall with a dumbbell in your right hand, feet hip-width apart.
- Keeping the dumbbell in a neutral grip, palm facing your the midline of your body, curl the dumbbell up to your shoulder.
- Press the dumbbell up over your shoulder without arching your back.
- Reverse the motion to return to lower the weight back down to the starting position.
- When you finish your reps, repeat on the other side.
As you press the weight overhead, keep your core tight and braced to protect your back, Fetters says.
3. Dumbbell Squat
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, a dumbbell in your right hand.
- Extend your right arm straight out to the side, holding the dumbbell in the air.
- Keeping your arm straight, push your hips back and bend your knees to 90 degrees.
- Press into your heels and push your hips forward to return to standing.
- Once you finish all your reps, switch the dumbbell to the other side.
The challenge here is to maintain an upright torso as you squat with the dumbbell extended. Keep your core braced and pause your set when your form begins to break down.
4. Single-Arm Face Pull
- Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in your right hand.
- Hinge at your hips back and lean your torso forward with a flat back, knees slightly bent.
- Place your left palm on your left thigh or at your side. This is the starting position.
- Leading with your elbow at a 90-degree bend, draw the dumbbell up to the outside of your right ear.
- Pause here for a moment squeezing your shoulder blades.
- Reverse the motion to bring the arm back down.
- Do all your face pull reps on the first side, then repeat on the opposite side.
- Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, holding the dumbbell with both hands.
- Push your hips back and bend the knees to 90 degrees, coming into a squat.
- Simultaneously, bring the dumbbell over to your right side.
- Push through your heels and come to standing.
- As you stand, bring the dumbbell up over your left shoulder, pivoting your right foot to turn your torso to the left.
- Drop right back into the squat for the next rep.
- Once you complete all the reps, repeat on the opposite side.
Move with control for this exercise and avoid using the momentum of the weight to bring it overhead or to your side, Fetters says.