If you’re short on equipment, that doesn’t mean you should put your workout on hold—this dumbbell workout shows you can work your whole body– you just need to employ strategic programming.
For example, single dumbbell workouts lend themselves to exercises where only one side of your body is loaded with weight. These types of movements, known as unilateral exercises, are particularly effective in helping you identify and ultimately correct any side-to-side strength imbalances you have.
Now, most of us have some degree of side-to-side imbalance, which means one arm or leg is stronger than its counterpart. While minor deviations can be NBD, large deviations can lead to injury, as the stronger side can overwork itself by taking on too much work for the weaker side. With unilateral movements, you can become aware of imbalances and correct them if necessary, reducing your risk of injury and increasing your overall strength.
Also, unilateral exercises are great for challenge your heart. “The core should stabilize when one side of your body is loaded,” ACE Certified Personal Trainer Sivan Fagan, CPT, owner of Strong With Sivan, tells SELF. Central stabilization helps keep your body upright and ensures it doesn’t tip over or fall sideways.
With that in mind, Fagan created the single dumbbell workout below for SELF which is loaded with unilateral exercises, as well as bilateral movement, as there are benefits to working both sides of your body as well. same time. Together, these five moves will work your whole body and seriously challenge your core.
This routine is meant to be performed with a medium-weight dumbbell (think 10-20 pounds), and therefore the number of reps will vary between moves. This is because when working with a single weight, the appropriate number of reps really depends on the exercise you’re doing and the muscle groups it engages.
For example, in this workout, the weighted weight gluteal bridge has the most reps because it’s an exercise that focuses on your glutes, which are a super strong muscle group that can handle a lot of load, says Fagan. It is also, as we mentioned, the only bilateral movement, which means that both sides of your body help to power the movement, increasing the load you can carry. The single-arm overhead press, on the other hand, has a much lower rep count because it is primarily a shoulder lift and your shoulders are a much smaller muscle group.
Of course, the rep ranges provided below are only guidelines, Fagan says. If you make a move and you feel it’s too much for your muscles or you feel it in other parts of your body, step back. “Always make sure your form is accurate,” says Fagan. “Don’t sacrifice form for repetition.”
You can do this workout two to three times a week, as long as you plan a rest day between workouts so your muscles have time to recover. Also important: Take a few minutes to warm up before you begin so your body is properly prepared for the work ahead. Moves like walkers, Stretch 90/90, dynamic stretching of the adductors, frog stretchopen and closed book, and removable can do the job, says Fagan.
What do you need: A medium weight dumbbell, between 10 and 20 pounds. If you have a wider range of dumbbells, you might want to have them on hand in case you need to increase or decrease certain movements. You will also need a practice bench or other study, raised surface for the bird-dog row.
- Reverse lunge
- One Arm Overhead Press
- Row of bird dogs on bench
- Weighted gluteal bridge
- plank crossing
- For the Superset, perform each exercise for the prescribed number of reps, moving from one movement to the next without resting. Rest 1 minute after both are done. Complete 3 turns in total.
- For the Triset, perform the prescribed number of repetitions for each exercise without resting between movements. Rest 1 minute after all three are completed. Complete 3 turns in total.
Demonstration of the movements below are Sarah Taylor (GIF 1), certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor in Toronto; Nathalie Huerta (GIF 2), trainer at Queer Gym in Oakland; Jowan Ortega (GIF 3), personal trainer, sports performance coach and partner at fitness in Brooklyn; and Shauna Harrison (GIF 4-5), a Bay Area-based trainer, yogi, public health scholar, advocate and journalist for me.