The Best Dumbbell Exercises You Can Do At Home

Are your home workouts getting a little boring? Here are five awesome exercises and three workouts, and all you need is a dumbbell...

clock-circular-outline-lightPosted 2 Jun 2020
The Best Dumbbell Exercises You Can Do At Home

YouTube HIIT workouts in the living room, early morning 5k runs and a garage that's slowly turning into a mini gym. Sound familiar? Thought so.

For many of us, home workouts have become the norm for a good while now. Although acquiring a plethora of gym weights and equipment may have been somewhat of a distant dream over the past few months - there's no reason your home training can't continue to develop as the world around you slowly emerges from the coronavirus restrictions.

With a limited range of weights, training your entire body can be extremely challenging. This article will not only equip you with an abundance of exercises you can complete with just a single dumbbell, but we've also got three fun, challenging and unique at home workouts for you try!

What if I don't have a dumbbell?

We know everyone isn't as lucky to have their own weights, but that's ok, we just need to get a little more inventive! Here are a few ideas of items you may find around your house that can be utilised instead of a dumbbell.

  • Large water bottle (filled)

  • Backpack or durable shopping bag (increase the weight to a suitable level)

  • Resistance band

  • Paint tin

  • Protein tub

*Disclaimer: Please check the items thoroughly to ensure they are safe and cannot cause harm to you, anyone around you or damage your surroundings. Exercises are completed at your own risk.

Five dumbbell-only exercises you can do at home

These five exercises were combined to deliver a workout that challenges multiple major muscle groups in the body. Be sure to scroll down below to read about each one, and give the home workouts a try at the bottom of this page!

  1. Dumbbell Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

  2. Dumbbell Bicep Curl

  3. Dumbbell Split Squat

  4. Weighted Russian Twists

  5. Dumbbell Row

Dumbbell Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

Not just a test of strength and mind-muscle connection, the dumbbell single-leg deadlift also demands your entire focus to maintain balance and correct posture throughout the exercise.

The single-leg deadlift places an increased emphasis on your hamstrings and core, while small secondary muscle groups are engaged to stabilise throughout the lift.

Exercise Tip: The main focus here should be kicking your leg out backwards, maintaining a straight back, tall chest and hinging at the hips. Keep your knee in a slightly bent position, squeezing your hamstrings and glutes to return to the top.

Ps. We all have different levels of flexibility and mobility, so don't worry about having your elevated leg slightly bent!

Dumbbell Bicep Curl

A true classic in the workout world. Whatever your level of training, we're sure you know what a bicep curl is.

Predominantly targetting the biceps, the dumbbell bicep curl is a great exercise for at home. Performing this as a unilateral exercise (one arm at a time) means the focus is kept on the working bicep, ensuring the muscle is targeted effectively.

If training your arms like arnold isn't quite your thing, throw in light bicep curls in-between HIIT circuits to challenge your muscles while regaining your breath.

Exercise Tip: To prevent swinging and increase difficulty, try isolating the movement by sitting down with a straight back, or resting your arm on the back of a chair (like a preacher curl).

Want more arm exercises? Click here to see our favourites.


Without heavy-weights, increasing the difficulty of the squat while at home can prove challenging.

Moving from a regular squat to a split squat places more weight on one leg at a time, recruiting more muscle fibres and increasing the effort required to complete each rep.

The split squat recruits the majority of muscle fibres from your quads and glutes, whilst also challenging your core - a great single-leg exercise you can do at home!

Increase the difficulty by elevating your rear foot on a step or chair.

Exercise Tip: Keep your torso tall with your chest out, lowering your rear knee towards the ground. Try to avoid 'lunging forward', as this places more stress on your knee and ankle, and less on your glutes and quads!

Upgrade your leg workouts with these exercises.


All free weight exercises engage your core to varying amounts, but if you're like us, a workout never feels complete without the abdominal fatiguing you get from a real core-focused exercise.

Taking the Russian twist up a level by adding weight such as a dumbbell, kettlebell or your chosen household item, will increase the demand on your core to maintain the v-position while rotating your torso.

The weighted Russian twist engages your entire core, including the abdominals and obliques, posing a unique task in performing the exercise in a controlled manner whilst maintaining balance.

Exercise Tip: Cross your legs to help keep balance, and focus on your core rotating slowly while your legs remain central, in-line with your head throughout the movement.

Try our six best abs exercises...

Dumbbell Row

You most likely won't have a gym bench at home, but that's no problem. The dumbbell row can be supported by leaning up a chair, table, car bonnet or can even be completed free-standing. Don't let equipment limitations stop you from completing exercises!

Training our back isn't the easiest when working out at home; however, the dumbbell row engages the majority of our back muscles, improving strength and posture - something that has no doubt took a sideline since our Netflix screen time doubled during the lockdown...

Exercise Tip: Keep your back straight and shoulders retracted throughout the entire movement, keeping a loose grip on the weight with the focus on pulling your elbow up towards your hip.


Now it's time to put these exercises to the test, and, put you through your paces.

Here are three different styles of workouts, incorporating all of the above exercises in different ways. We recommend having a rest day in-between each workout.

Make sure you screenshot these so you have them ready for your next workout!

Workout 1:

Workout one is a lifting based workout, with the emphasis on control and muscular strength/hypertrophy. Take a 60-90 second rest in-between sets and exercises.

  • DB Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift 3x12 (each leg)

  • Weighted Russian Twists 1x20

  • DB Row 3x12 (each arm)

  • Weighted Russian Twists 1x20

  • DB Split Squat 3x12 (each leg)

  • Weighted Russian Twists 1x20

  • DB Bicep Curl 3x15

Workout 2:

Workout two's focus is on time, taking the focus away from 'rep counting'. All you'll need is a circuit timer or stopwatch (your phone) to keep track of time.

Complete each exercise non-stop for 45-seconds, take a 15-second rest and move on to the next activity. Perform each side of the exercise in 5 rep counts (e.g. 5 bicep curls with your right arm, then swap to the left and repeat.)

  • DB Split Squat (45secs) Rest (15secs)

  • DB Bicep Curl (45secs) Rest (15secs)

  • DB Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift (45secs) Rest (15secs)

  • Weighted Russian Twists (45secs) Rest (15secs)

  • DB Row (45secs) Rest (3mins)

Repeat 2 - 4 times. Increase work time to make each round more difficult.

Workout 3:

Workout three brings an increased element of true metabolic conditioning, combining the lifting of weights with heart rate elevating cardio.

You may complete fewer reps than a hypertrophy workout, but your body will be under more stress from the increased heart rate.

  • 30 DB Single-leg Romanian Deadlifts (15 each leg)

  • 30 Bicep Curls (15 each arm)

  • 500m Run or 1min Skipping

  • 30 DB Split Squats (15 each leg)

  • 30 DB Rows (15 each side)

  • 500m Run or 1min Skipping

  • 30 Weighted Russian Twists

  • 250m Run or 30sec Skipping

  • 30 Weighted Russian Twists


Complete this 1 - 3 times, with a 5-minute rest minimum between rounds.

There you have it, five brilliant exercises to try at home, in your garden or even at the gym (if you're lucky enough to have access right now!).

Which workout will you be trying first? Let us know in the comments below, we love hearing how you've been training during these difficult and unique times!

GymsharkBy Gymshark

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