Don’t have a ton of strength-training equipment at your disposal? No worries. We have a great single-dumbbell workout that will fire up your entire body with just a single weight. It’s a solid routine to have in your arsenal of at-home strength workouts since it requires minimal equipment, hits pretty much all your major muscle groups, and can be easily scaled up or down to different fitness levels.
Before we get into the workout, though, let’s talk about what makes a quality full-body routine and how you can get an appropriately challenging workout with just one dumbbell—no matter its weight.
A good full-body workout incorporates exercises that hit major movement patterns, including squatting, hinging, pushing, pulling, planking, and rotating.
“Making sure that you’re moving your body through all of the major movement patterns can help make sure all of the major muscle groups are covered,” ACSM-certified personal trainer Asher Freeman, creator of the Nonnormative Body Club in Philadelphia, tells SELF.
By focusing on movement patterns, you’re also more likely to include moves that have you working through multiple planes of motion, rather than just one. Lots of us tend to live in the sagittal plane of motion, which involves forward and backward movement, or the flexing or extending of joints, like in a squat. But by remembering to get rotation in there (a transverse plane motion), you can better improve your functional movement. This is important because it can help you ensure you’re not creating strength imbalance or furthering imbalances you already have.
Now, if you only have one dumbbell, there are lots of ways to increase the intensity so the move challenges you, even if the weight’s lighter than what you’d normally use for certain exercises. Since you don’t have the option of adding more weight to increase the difficulty, one simple trick is to increase the volume by adding more reps or sets, says Freeman. You can also make things feel harder by decreasing the speed at which you perform reps, or pausing at the hardest point of the exercise (like at the bottom of a squat, for instance)…