Using dumbbells is an effective way to work out at home without taking up a lot of space. They can help build muscle and strengthen bones.

This multitasking workout is from Morit Summers, NSCA-CPT, owner of Form Fitness Brooklyn, who often works with curvy women. The goal of the workout is to help combat the beliefs that plus-size individuals can’t or shouldn’t do many things.

This workout routine targets the arms, legs, and core all at once, while also increasing your heart rate. In addition, it is designed to be completed in half an hour, with work intervals of 40 seconds and 20 seconds of rest in between.

Do each exercise slowly, even if you only have a short time. This will help you do the exercise correctly. You can do the next round more quickly, Summers says. Also, try using a set of dumbbells that is a little lighter than what you usually use. If you feel strong, you can increase the weight. Or, if you are not able to do the exercise as it is written, you can try the easier version that is listed.

Alternating Dumbbell Rotation Thrusters

  • Start standing, feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulders, elbows bent. Bend knees, pushing hips down and back, to lower into a squat.
  • Drive through feet to stand up, simultaneously pivoting on the right foot and rotating hips to the left, and press right arm straight overhead, bicep by ear. (Body should form a diagonal line from wrist to ankle.) Rotate forward as you bring the dumbbell back to your shoulder. Repeat the squat, then stand and pivot on left foot, rotating hips right, and pressing left arm overhead. Continue alternating rotational presses with squats between each.

Remove the rotation and stand up from the squat, still holding one dumbbell straight overhead and alternating sides.

Alternating Lateral Lunge + Reverse Fly

  • Start standing with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, arms down by sides. Step right foot out to the side, hinge at hips, and bend left knee, bringing chest toward the floor with back flat. Right leg stays straight, knee soft.
  • Holding the Lateral Lunge—making sure hips point straight back, knee and toe point forward, gaze toward the floor—raise arms straight out to sides and up to shoulder height with palms facing down, squeezing shoulder blades together and keeping core engaged the entire time. Lower arms back down. Bring the right leg back in to stand. Repeat Lateral Lunge on the other side, with the Reverse Fly at the bottom. Continue alternating lunges, with a Reverse Fly on each side.

Instead of doing reverse flyes, focus on lateral lunges side to side.

Alternating Plank Rotation to Press

Start in straight-arm plank position with both hands on a dumbbell. Bend your left elbow and pull the dumbbell toward your ribs as you rotate your hips to the left and pivot on your feet, bringing your heels toward the right side. Press the left dumbbell straight up, forming a T with your arms. Bend your elbow to lower the dumbbell back to your chest, and then place the dumbbell back on the floor as you return to the forward-facing plank position. Repeat on the right side, and continue alternating.

Stay in a plank position, with your arms straight and facing forward, the whole time. To do a Renegade Row, alternate rowing on each side by pulling one dumbbell up to your ribs, then lowering it back down, and repeating on the other side.

Bridge + Chest Fly

  • Start lying on your back, knees bent, feet planted on the floor hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand straight over shoulders, palms facing each other. Press through feet, and squeeze glutes to lift hips toward the ceiling. Slightly tilt your pelvis toward the ceiling so you form a straight line from knees to hips to shoulders.
  • With a slight bend in elbows, lower dumbbells down and out to the sides. Then press them back up toward the center, over shoulders. Repeat the Chest Fly. Keep hips lifted, with glutes and abs engaged the entire time.

Eliminate the bridge and perform the fly with your hips lowered so that your back is flat on the floor.

Dumbbell Overhead Sit-up

  • Start lying on your back, knees bent, and feet planted. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms overhead and behind you, palms facing each other.
  • Keeping arms straight overhead, slowly rolling up, rounding the spine. Sit tall at the top, spine neutral and shoulders directly over hips, biceps by ears. Slowly lower back down, and repeat.

It will be easier to move if you extend your legs straight in front of you.

Alternating Dumbbell Kneeling Halos

Begin by kneeling on the ground, with your knees hip-width apart. Holding one dumbbell at your chest with both hands, use your shoulders to rotate the dumbbell around your head. Make sure to keep your hips steady and your core engaged, and keep your elbows close to your body. Alternate between rotating the dumbbell around your head to the left, and then to the right.

Modify It: Stand up for more stability.

Russian Twist + Press

  • Start sitting, knees bent, holding one dumbbell with both hands on the chest. Lean back about 45 degrees from the hips, and lift your feet off the floor. Rotate the torso to the left; then return to the center.
  • Press the dumbbell up, on a diagonal. Then lower it back to the chest. Next, rotate the torso to the right; then return to the center. Repeat the press. Continue alternating rotations, with a press between each.

Modify It: Keep your heels on the ground.

Superman With Dumbbell Squeeze

To do this exercise, start by lying on your stomach on the floor with your arms and legs extended. Hold a dumbbell vertically between your feet. Gaze toward the floor and lift your arms, chest, and legs off the floor, squeezing your glutes. Lower yourself back down to the floor and repeat.

Instead, opt for a barbell with a weight you feel comfortable with. If the dumbbell feels too heavy, ditch it and opt for a barbell with a weight you’re comfortable with.

Lateral Raise

Hold a dumbbell in each hand next to your outer thighs. With your back straight, slowly lift the dumbbells out to the sides until your arms are parallel with the floor. Your elbows should be slightly bent. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.

” According to Nyman, lateral raises target the medial (outer) head of the deltoid muscle. This movement does not require a lot of core strength, making it a good choice for beginners.

Picture yourself holding a bucket in each hand. Raise your arms out to the side, and tilt the buckets as if you’re going to pour out the contents. Make sure your thumbs are pointing toward the floor. This will help you target the medial head instead of the front delt.

Biceps Curl

To complete this exercise, hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms facing out. Then, slowly curl the dumbbells up to your chest and back down again.

” According to Nyman, you should keep your elbows pinned to your sides to prevent shifting the emphasis away from your biceps and onto your shoulders.

When you are new to lifting weights, you may be afraid to pick up heavy ones. With biceps curls, you don’t have to worry about that because the focus is not on the weight, it is on the contraction and relaxation of the muscle. You can switch up your grip to target different parts of the muscle, but for beginners, I recommend using a supinated grip, with your palms facing up.

Hammer Curl

This version of a biceps curl targets the brachialis muscle, which is located on the outside of the arm near the biceps. This will add more bulk to your upper arms and make your biceps more pronounced. The only difference in this move and the standard biceps curl is how you hold the dumbbells.

Stand holding dumbbells in each hand. Keep elbows close to body and bent, and slowly lift weights to shoulders. Squeeze biceps at top, and then lower dumbbells with control.

Triceps Kick-Back

The triceps kickback is a dumbbell exercise that works both of the major muscle groups in your upper arm, along with the biceps curl.

Stand with one leg on a bench, and bend over so your torso is parallel to the ground. Hold the bench with one hand, and hold a dumbbell in the other hand. Place your upper arm against your body, with your elbow bent at 90 degrees. Slowly straighten your arm, moving the dumbbell backwards until your forearm is parallel to the ground. Make sure to keep your upper arm still. Lower the weight back to the start.


Switch legs and repeat. While holding dumbbells at your sides, take a big step forward and lower your entire body until both knees are bent at a 90 degree angle. Once in this position, use the leg that is in front to push yourself back up to the starting position. Alternate legs and repeat.

Nyman emphasizes the importance of working the legs for various reasons such as increasing strength, muscle, and burning calories. Nyman suggests that beginners start with lunges using dumbbells rather than squats with a barbell to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Overhead Press

You can do this either seated or standing. Hold a pair of dumbbells at shoulder level with your elbows out to the sides and bent at 90°. Extend through your elbows and press the weights overhead, then slowly bring them back to the starting position.

Heavy overhead presses are a great way to add strength, according to Nyman. You should be careful not to arch your back too much or you will use your upper chest instead of your shoulders.

Dumbbell Bench Press

This exercise is a great option for beginners if you stick to a weight you’re comfortable with. Using dumbbells will work more muscles around the shoulders and chest than using a barbell because they’re forced to keep the weights stable. Lie on a flat workout bench with your feet flat on the floor. Hold the dumbbells above your chest, palms facing towards your feet with your arms fully extended. Bend at the elbows to lower the dumbbells slowly until they reach your chest. Pause for one second, then press both dumbbells up powerfully.

Hammer Press

This version of the dumbbell bench press is easier on your shoulders and is a good exercise to add to your routine if you are worried about injuring your shoulders. To do this exercise, lie on a bench holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing each other. Press the weights up above you until your arms are extended and then bring them back down slowly.

Floor Press

The floor press is a move that can be done when the bench is busy and places less strain on your shoulders than the standard move. This is because the range of motion is reduced. If you are worried about aggravating shoulder niggles, this is a good way to work your chest. To do the move, lie with your feet and back flat on the floor, knees bent, holding dumbbells on either side of your chest. Press the weights straight above you, then lower slowly until the backs of your upper arms touch the floor. This makes the move harder since it removes the tension from your muscles, so it takes more to initiate the next rep.

Calf Raise

The calf muscles are difficult to target during a workout. The best way to work them is to do calf raises. This is especially important for runners because the calf muscles have to bear a lot of the impact. So it is important to make sure they are strong enough to handle your training.

To do a calf raise, stand holding heavy dumbbells and push through your toes to raise your heels off the floor. Lower your heels back down and repeat. You can vary the part of your calf muscles you work by bending your knees during the raise or doing them on a raised platform.


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