Five Seasons Family Sports Club Blog

4 Dumbbell Exercises for a Total Body Workout

Posted by Five Seasons Family Sports Club on 7/25/17 9:00 AM

Dumbbells are commonly used in exercises that target specific muscle groups (e.g., bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, etc.), but did you know they can be great tools for full body workouts as well? Below are four dumbbell exercises that can give you a fun, challenging and calorie-blasting full-body workout.

1. Dumbbell Squat to Overhead Press 

Commonly referred to as a "thruster," the dumbbell squat to overhead press will work your glutes, thighs, hamstrings, shoulders, and arms all in one smooth movement. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, holding the dumbbells at shoulder level with elbows bent (a.k.a., the "rack position"). Now squat down, making sure to keep your weight in your heels and your back nice and straight. Try to lower your squat to the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor, and then as you stand back up, start pressing the dumbbells up directly overhead from shoulder level. Avoid allowing the dumbbells to criss-cross at the peak of the movement; keep them nice and straight, so they stay in alignment with your shoulders. Lower the dumbbells back to your shoulders to complete the movement.

2. Reverse Lunge and Bicep Curl 

Lunges are the quintessential lower body exercise – not only do they build your glutes, thighs and hamstrings, but they're also an excellent way to improve your balance and stability. Combine this powerhouse move with arm-blasting dumbbell bicep curls, and you have a highly effective one-two-punch that will simultaneously work your upper and lower body.

For the reverse lunge, you will start off the same way you would with a regular lunge – feet shoulder-width apart and dumbbells down by your sides – but you step backwards instead of forwards, allowing your rear leg to bend at the knee while your front leg basically emulates the movement of a traditional squat. Throughout the entire lunge, you will keep the dumbbells down by your sides, but when you return to the standing position, perform a bicep curl with both arms. Lower the dumbbells back down to your sides to complete the movement. Repeat with the opposite leg.

3. Step-Ups with Overhead Extension 

This exercise will definitely challenge your endurance and balance, as you will be required to keep your arms extended overhead throughout the entire movement as you work your lower body. You can use one dumbbell in each hand for this exercise, or you can hold one (slightly heavier) dumbbell with two hands. Stand facing an aerobic step or bench, holding the dumbbell(s) directly overhead. Now place your right foot on top of the step/bench, and push with your right leg to lift your left leg off the ground (as if you're climbing a staircase).

You should step up until your right leg has been fully extended, and your left leg should trail slightly behind you; just make sure you don't allow it to touch the step/bench. Lower your left foot back to the ground, keeping your right foot on the step/bench. Perform 10 repetitions before alternating legs. Keep in mind that you will be holding the dumbbell(s) over your head throughout the entire movement, so you will definitely need to focus on maintaining your balance!

4. Squat Thrusts 

This compound exercise combines elements of the squat, plank and push-up to give you a full-body muscle blast. Stand with dumbbells by your sides and feet shoulder-width apart. Now squat down and allow the dumbbells to make contact with the floor while kicking your legs behind you, so that you end up in a push-up position, keeping a firm grip on the dumbbells for support. Now pull your feet back underneath you into a squat and then jump straight up, landing back in the original standing position. You will need to choose lighter dumbbells for this exercise so you won't strain your arms or back when you jump.

Research shows that performing compound exercises with dumbbells is a great way to stimulate a higher number of muscle fibers, which will boost your body's fat-burning capabilities. Keep the above full-body dumbbell exercises in mind to help you shed fat and build a sleek, toned physique!

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Topics: Fitness