Gyms are great. Nobody is arguing against signing up to the gym if you want to look great. But there are also kinda awful!
Overcrowded, expensive, filled with a higher percentage of jerks than you would expect to see, and either freezing cold or baking hot.
Don’t forget the terrible music and difficulty in finding a parking space.
For some people, the idea of training at home with just some dumbbells is heaven. But how can you get a full body dumbbell workout while training at home?
In this article we will look at exactly how to do that.
Benefits of Free Weights
You might think that working out from home is less effective than training at a gym, and in some ways it is.
There is a lot more equipment available to you, and there’s no chance that your home gym is going to be able to fit any resistance machines.
Interestingly though, resistance machines may not actually be as effective as free weights.
A 2014 study by Shaner et al compared the effects of resistance machines and free weights on muscle fibre activation and hormonal response .
The study found that free weights activated a greater number of muscle fibres (the more fibres activated, the more strength and size gained) and also saw an increase in testosterone and growth hormone production.
Meaning that if you compare a resistance machine (such as the chest press) to a free weight exercise (such as the dumbbell bench press) the latter would lead to more strength and size gains.
Another benefit of free weights is much more practical. They are versatile, if you have a set of dumbbells you can perform hundreds of different exercises and their many variations.
A Full Body Dumbbell Workout
For this workout you may need to consider purchasing a bench, this could really help you to add hundreds of extra exercises to your training program.
But, considering that not everyone can afford to spend money on exercise benches, we have provided a bodyweight alternative for the one exercise that requires a bench.
First things first, we will show you the program. We’ll list the exercise, the number of sets, and the number of reps.
You should take a rest period of between 45-60 seconds between each set but take longer if you need to (particularly at first when your fitness will be poor).
- Goblet Squats 3 x 8-12
- Lunges 3 x 10 (each leg)
- Romanian Deadlifts 3 x 12
- Dumbbell Bench Press/Push Ups 3 x 8-12
- Dumbbell Bent Over Row 3 x 8-12
- Dumbbell Overhead Press 3 x 8-10
Now let’s take a look at the exercises mentioned above.
Goblet Squats: Grab a dumbbell and hold it in two hands in front of your chest.
Place your feet shoulder width apart and then turn your toes out very slightly.
Push your chest out take a deep breath and then squat down by pushing your glutes out and lowering your hips until your thighs are around parallel with the floor, pause and then breathe out as you rise back up to the starting position.
Muscles worked: Gluteals, Quadriceps, Hamstrings, core muscles
Walking Lunges: Stand upright with chest out, feet together, and a dumbbell in each hand (held by your sides). Take a large step forward and keeping your torso upright lower your back knee down until it almost touches the floor. Hold this position temporarily and then take a large step forward with your rear leg.
Muscles worked: Quadriceps, Gluteals, Hamstrings, core muscles
Romanian Deadlifts: Stand upright with chest pushed out, shoulders back and knees very slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and place in front of your legs. Keeping your legs stiff bow forward until your chest is as near to parallel to the floor as you can get it (this may not be anywhere near parallel at first). Ensure that your heels remain in contact with the floor throughout and that you are squeezing your glutes throughout. As you lower yourself down, the dumbbells should travel straight down towards the ground as if you were trying to touch your toes. Pause at the bottom and then reverse the movement until you are back at the starting position.
Muscles worked: Hamstrings, erector spinae, glutes, core muscles
Dumbbell Bench Press: Lie on a flat bench with feet touching the floor, chest pushed out and a dumbbell in each hand. Start with the dumbbells resting against the outer part of your chest and your elbows at 45 degrees from your sides. Take a deep breath and then push the dumbbells straight up in the air until your arms are almost fully extended. You should be breathing out while doing this. Pause at the top of the movement and then slowly (with control) lower the weights back down to your chest.
Muscles worked: Pectorals, Deltoids, Triceps
Push Ups: Place your hands flat on the floor and your body should be in a straight line with your toes touching the ground. Your hands should be shoulder width apart and arms fully extended. Make sure that your hips are raised enough so that there is a straight line from your shoulders down to your heels, but not raised too high. Take a deep breath and then lower your chest down to the ground, bending your elbows to allow you to do so. Pause when your chest is almost touching the floor and then return to the starting position.
Muscles worked: Pectorals, Deltoids, Triceps
Dumbbell Bent Over Row: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and bend your knees slightly. Push your chest out and shoulders back, then bow forward until your chest is near to parallel to the ground (as close as you can comfortably hold it). Hold the dumbbells straight down and near the floor, while maintaining a flat back and keeping your chest pushed out. Take a deep breath and pull the dumbbells up towards your chest, keeping your elbows close to your sides throughout. Pause when the dumbbells are in line with your chest, and then slowly lower the weights back down to the starting position.
Muscles worked: Latissimus dorsi, Trapezius muscles, Biceps, Deltoids
Dumbbell Overhead Press: Stand upright with chest pushed out and shoulders back. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and place one dumbbell beside each shoulder. Your elbows should be at a 45 degree angle from your sides. Take a deep breath and then push the dumbbells up into the air in an arc so that they finish directly over your head with arms outstretched. You should be breathing out during this movement. Pause, and then lower the weights slowly (and with control) back to the starting position.
Muscles worked: Deltoids, Trapezius muscles, Triceps
So, there you have it! A simple to do, full-body workout that you can perform with a set of dumbbells in the comfort of your own home. Remember, there are hundreds of variations of each exercise that you can perform if you want. For example, instead of walking lunges you could perform step-ups, or reverse lunges, or Bulgarian split squats, or lateral lunges. Just make sure that you are comfortable performing each exercise, and that they suit your goals.