Easy full body workout: These are the best home dumbbell exercises for beginners

This best home dumbbell workout for beginners will work almost every muscle in your body for a guaranteed burn

Best home dumbbell workout for beginners
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Looking to get fit in 2020? We put together the best home dumbbell workout for beginners, to prove the versatility of dumbbells. It just so happens we have a list of the best dumbbells you might wanna scan maybe, as well. This is a workout that will give most of your muscles a run for their money but which beginners can do without injuring themselves. Please don't injure yourself. Even if you are new to workouts, you will be able to follow along this one, we chose exercises that can be performed at home, with only one (or a pair of) dumbbell(s). Although if you're new to pumpin' iron we do recommend you invest in the best gym gloves because, you know, chafing is not nice.

Apart from dumbbells, you might need a weight bench to be able to do all the exercises listed below, although wherever a bench is needed, we also included the alternative version of the exercise that can be done without the weight bench.

Should you have more money to burn or maybe planning on building a home gym, almost all the best home dumbbell workout for beginners exercises can be spiced up  by using a barbell or kettlebells, instead of a dumbbell.

One device we would like to recommend is a decent fitness smartwatch. Sometimes also called running watches, these wearables can not only keep track of your workouts, but they most usually have a real-time heart rate tracking function, so you can see how many calories you burned and what was your average heart rate during workouts.

Want to build muscle? Get your diet right

A word that comes up almost all the time when talking about fitness is protein. Protein is one of the three macronutrients your body needs to function properly, the other two being fat and carbohydrate. General rule of thumb is to cover most of your energy needs with good carbs like vegetables, lean meat/fish and fruits, add  moderate amount protein from a variety of sources to the mix and keep fat levels at bay. Fat needs should mainly be covered by eating good fats, like avocado, oily fish, nuts, coconut oil and so on.

Of the three macronutrients, we can store two in our bodies – carbs and fats – but we can't store protein, so you will need to supply your body with protein throughout the day to aid muscle growth and recovery. The most convenient way to take in protein is to to have a couple protein shakes a day, which is a combination of protein powder and water (or milk/milk substitute).

• Best cheap protein deals

Protein, of course, can and should be sourced from a variety of sources, like fish, nuts, lean meat, vegetables and more. Keeping a healthy diet is equally as important as exercising, not to mention leaving enough time to rest. Overworking and under-supplying your body of key nutrients is the best way to get injured and to lose motivation fast.

If you are doing moderate exercising, you won't need loads of protein either: shoot for 1.2-1.5 grams per body kilogram per day. Assuming you are around 80-90 kilos, you won't need more than 100-135 grams of protein to cover your daily needs. One scoop of protein powder usually has 26-28 grams of protein in it, protein snacks usually have the same, add a high-protein/low-sugar yogurt and two medium size meals with some protein and you are all sorted for the day.

Make sure you also drink plenty of water, that will speed up your metabolism, protect your cells and help muscle regeneration, too.

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Best home dumbbell workout for beginners

Before you start your workout, make sure you're all warmed up and that your heart rate is also in the right zone: roughly 50-55% of your max heart rate. Max heart rate can be calculated by subtracting your age from 220. For a 25 year old, their max heart rate is 195, for reference.

Do this workout in a circuit so so one set of each of all of them, as opposed to doing one exercise for multiple sets at a time. This will leave more time for your muscles to recover from the sets and you will feel fatigued later.

Follow this sequence during this workout:

- Dumbbell single leg deadlift: 8 reps (alternate between sides in different sets)
- Dumbbell one arm row: 8 reps (alternate between sides in different sets)
- Dumbbell dumbbell curl: 8 reps (do 8 on each side in one set)
- Dumbbell side lateral raise: 8 reps
- Dumbbell bench press: 8 reps

Do four of the above sequence, keeping 30-60 seconds of rest between sets and 60-90 seconds after the each set of dumbbell bench press.

Important: if you are concerned or have any concerns about your workout, please consult a medical professional before you start exercising. Also, if you have difficulties with excess weight, you might want to lose weight first and then start working out with weights. Changing your diet is the best way to lose weight, whilst exercising can help you maintain weight loss and improve your cardiovasular system, too.

best home dumbbell workout for beginners

Single leg deadlifts can be performed with kettlebells and dumbbells, too

(Image credit: Future)

1. Single leg deadlift

Muscles worked: hamstrings, thighs, glutes (bum muscle), core, lats, traps

Good for: improving balance and posture, toning bum, building thigh muscles

We love the deadlift here at T3. It is called the king of lifts for a good reason, after all. Barbell deadlifts work almost all the muscles in your body and there is probably no better way to build overall strength than doing barbell deadlifts. Unfortunately, though, barbells are a bit fiddly to work out with at home, especially if you haven't got a garage gym at your disposal.

Lucky for you, deadlifts can also be performed using either kettlebells, or in our case, dumbbells. Single leg deadlift also doubles up as core exercise, since you will need your core to be engaged as you balance your body.

To perform a single leg deadlift, stand with the dumbbell in one hand and the other hand placed on your waist. Bend forward, keeping your back straight, whilst also keeping your arm – the one holding the dumbbell – straight, lowering it to the ground as you bend forward. Simultaneously, raise your extended leg behind your on the other side of your body. Stop when your back is parallel to the ground, then lift your back up to the starting position.

Try performing single leg deadlifts slower, this way you extend the period of muscle activation, burning more calories. Lower the weight/lifting the leg for three second, hold the midway point for one second, then back up in three seconds.

best home dumbbell workout for beginners

One arm dumbbell rows are a great alternative to bent-over barbell rows

(Image credit: Future)

2. One arm dumbbell row

Muscles worked: lats, biceps, shoulders

Good for: toning the arm, building solid back muscles

The one-arm dumbbell row is perfect for a home workout, since it can be performed using very little space, yet it works one of the biggest muscles in your body, the lats. As well as working your back, the one arm dumbbell row also works the biceps and the shoulders, toning the upper body area quite nicely.

Even better, although it is recommended to perform one-arm dumbbell rows on an adjustable weight bench, it can also be performed on a chair or even just standing.

Performing the one-arm dumbbell row is not complicated: after you placed yourself in the starting position (see above on the left), all you need to do is to pull the dumbbell up vertically, then release it back down.

There are only two key details you need to keep in mind: pull the weight towards your belly and not your chest and also, don't drop your shoulders too deep as you let the weight down. Your only need to move your arm, don't twist your hip in order to drop the dumbbell lower.

best home dumbbell workout for beginners

Let's not forget about this classic dumbbell exercise

(Image credit: Future)

3. Standing dumbbell curl

Muscles worked: Biceps, core

Good for: toning the arms, build big arms (working with bigger weights)!

Bicep curls are one of those few exercises that don't need much introduction. The movement is a familiar one, too: hold the weight in your hand with your arm extended, then bend the arm from the elbow, lifting the weight up. Finally, let the weight down, following the same motion how you lifted it it up in the first place.

We applied a little change to transform this otherwise isolation exercise into a sort-of compound one: when you perform standing dumbbell curls, you need to engage your core to keep your body from swaying back and forth as you curl the dumbbell.

Another detail to keep in mind is to only bend your forearm only as you pull the dumbbell up and focus on flexing the biceps. Our body naturally tries to help out the main muscle group activated by the exercise by involving any other muscles that can help the main one, in order to avoid muscle fatigue. In the same time, we would like our main muscle to grow significantly, and the best way to do this is to focus on the primary muscle group as we perform the exercise.

best home dumbbell workout for beginners

Bomb your shoulders with this deceivingly easy looking exercise

(Image credit: Future)

4. Dumbbell side lateral raise

Muscles worked: shoulders (mainly the side, the biggest protion), traps, core

Good for: building shoulder definition

The standing dumbbell lateral raise looks easy. All you have to do is to raise your extended arms to the side, up until shoulder height, as you stand with your legs shoulder width apart. But, as in the case of plank, for example, side lateral raises are harder to perform correctly than how they look.

One term you might have already heard when it comes to gym workouts is 'clean rep'. A clean rep is when you perform the exercise correctly, from beginning to end., using the correct muscle/muscle group. The other term you might have seen here and there is 'half rep'. A half rep is when you don't do the full range of motion during an exercise. Half repping is a common sight when people try to perform exercises with larger weights they can actually handle.

It is very easy to half rep side lateral raises, especially if you are working in higher rep-ranges. Try doing four sets of 12 reps of dumbbell side lateral raises and you can quickly gauge how strong your shoulders are.

It's okay to bend your elbows slightly, though, what's not okay is to raise your arms not all the way to shoulder height, even the last rep in the set. If you find yourself struggling by the end of the sets, it's best to drop the amount of weight slightly.

best home dumbbell workout for beginners

Ditch the barbell and work your chest with dumbbells

(Image credit: Future)

5. Dumbbell bench press

Muscles worked: chest, triceps, shoulders, forearms, traps

Good for: building a strong chest and getting big arms

The bench press is not exclusive to barbells, on the contrary. Dumbbells are equally as good to work your chest and your triceps. In case you haven't got a weight bench, you can do floor presses, when you lay down on the floor and do what you would otherwise do on a weight bench doing bench presses. Floor press puts less pressure on the shoulders, too.

When doing bench presses, try to keep your elbows tucked in slightly and move your arms in a similar fashion as you would if you were to perform a barbell bench press. The dumbbells should move up and down in a vertical motion, not in a semi-circle, bumping the dumbbells to each other on the top.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt looks after T3's Active vertical, which incorporates all things fitness, outdoors, wearables and transportation – anything that gets you moving and keeps you fit and healthy will go through his hands. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.