Ego will have you believe you need a barbell or full gym to build muscle, but “you can be soaked and have every muscle in your body thoroughly worked with just a pair of medium dumbbells,” says Joel Seedman, PhD, owner of Advanced Human Performance. Seriously, even advanced lifters will be challenged by the following dumbbell workout, created by Seedman.
Dumbbells are arguably the most versatile piece of equipment because you can move with greater fluidity. Unlike the rigid, fixed patterns of machines and barbells, you have the flexibility to change the positioning and angle to mitigate pain from injuries or immobility, and a greater capacity to work unilaterally to address muscle imbalances.
Because of that, “you don’t have to go as heavy to create a strong intramuscular stimulus, which is crucial when training from home,” Seedman adds. Ready to light up your whole body with free weights? This dumbbell workout will challenge your unilateral strength and coordination in ways a barbell never could.
Expert Tip: To up the intensity if you don’t have adjustable dumbbells, add a heavy band, do more reps, slow the movement down to create more time under tension, or hold the contracted position of the exercise.
Directions: Add this dumbbell workout to your weekly regimen once per week; do it twice per week with cardio on opposing days if you need a new program. Complete the exercises in Part 1 for the prescribed number of reps, taking 20 to 30 seconds rest between moves, and 30 to 45 seconds between sets. Once you’ve completed all 3 sets in Part A, rest for 60 to 90 seconds, then complete the triset in Part 2. Complete the exercises for the prescribed number of reps, taking 20 to 30 seconds rest between moves, and 30 to 45 seconds between sets for 3 total sets. Beginners should use 20- to 25-pound dumbbells, intermediate lifters can do 30- to 40-pound dumbbells, and advanced can go 45 pounds and higher.