One dumbbell and five exercises to build full-body functional strength

It'll take you less than 20 minutes and improves stability too

Woman doing a dumbbell curl in the gym
(Image credit: Getty)

Just because someone looks muscly, doesn’t mean they’re strong, and just because someone is strong, doesn’t mean they can perform every day movements with ease. This is where functional fitness comes in – it looks to build strength across your entire body, while incorporating movements that are transferable to everyday activities. If you haven’t given it a go yet, then this workout is perfect for dipping your toe in the water to achieve a stronger, healthier body and all you need is one dumbbell (so take a look at our dumbbell guide).

This workout particularly focuses on movements that help build up our core strength so that we have more stability. Why? Because a strong core is pretty much connected to everything we do. It helps us have better balance, posture, reduces the likelihood of injuries and back pain. If it's not just your core you want to target though, don't worry, as you've got upper and lower body exercises too.

You’ll have five exercises to complete during this workout and you’ll be doing each one for 40 seconds with a 20 second rest in between. Once you’ve finished all five, you’ll then have a 60 second before starting the workout again. You want to aim to complete it three times. Make sure you’re wearing a good pair of workout shoes, to help create a stable base and support you through the movements. A couple of moves are also floor-based, so grab yourself an exercise/yoga mat too, get ready, as here’s what you’ve got to do:

  • Overhead dumbbell walking lunges
  • Bear crawls
  • Sprint on spot then hold
  • Dumbbell overhead reverse crunch
  • Floor-based tricep dips

It’s best to opt for a light to medium dumbbell, you want something that will challenge you, but that you’re able to complete your reps with. The purpose of the dumbbell is to add some extra resistance to the exercises and fire up your core more, not to make the workout impossible to complete. If you don’t own a pair of dumbbells, then just buy an adjustable dumbbell instead, then you’ll be able to easily choose the weight to suit you. If you enjoyed this workout, then we’ve got another great three-move functional fitness workout that uses no equipment and will build strength, as well as stamina.

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.