The 10 Best Exercises You Can Do With One Dumbbell

Imagine this scenario for a moment.

You walk into the gym ready to get it on and it’s packed and most of the equipment is taken. What do you do? Panic?

I have a suggestion besides panicking. Instead grab a dumbbell and doing the following exercises below. These dumbbell exercises will work your body from head to toe with a minimum of fuss or fanfare and you will look awesome.

Trust me, I’m a trainer

1. Goblet squat

A. Hold the underneath of a dumbbell with each hand and holding the dumbbell close to your chest

B. With your feet, a little than wider than hip width apart (or whatever is comfortable for you) squat down aiming your glutes at your heels while keeping your chest up.

C. Squat down until your elbows are touching the inside of your thighs.

D, Stand up by pushing your feet through the floor.

2. Suitcase carry

A, Hold a dumbbell on side of your bodyweight that is approx. 25-50% of your bodyweight.

B. Check in the mirror that your shoulders are even

C. Keeping your shoulders down and chest up walk for 20 steps and swap hands and then walk back.

3. One arm floor press

A. Lie on the floor with one dumbbell by your side. Roll to your side and grab the dumbbell with both hands and roll on to your back.

B. Press the dumbbell towards the ceiling.

C. Slowly lower towards the ground until your elbow touches the ground. Keep your elbow close to your side.

4. Sumo squat

 A. Hold one end of a heavy dumbbell between your legs with both hands. Widen your feet for a comfortable squat stance for you.

B. Keeping your chest up and shoulders back, squat down and touch the dumbbell to the floor.

C. Squat back up, squeeze your glutes and stand tall.

5. One arm row

 A. Stand in front of a bench. Have one hand on the bench and the dumbbell beside you.

 B. Bend your knees and make sure your spine is in a straight line from head to glutes.

C. Reach down pick up the dumbbell, row your elbow towards your hip and slowly return back to starting position.

6. Pullover

A. Lie down on a bench, face up while holding the dumbbell above your chest.

B. Breathe out, flatten your back against the bench and lower the dumbbell behind your head with a slight bend in your elbows.

C. When you feel a stretch in your lats, breathe in and return to starting position.

7. Goblet split squat (Advanced)

A. Hold the dumbbell the same as the Goblet squat.  Set up in half kneeling position, back knee underneath hip and front ankle underneath hip.

B. Rise, pushing your front foot through the floor and slowly return to starting position.

Note- You back knee doesn’t have to touch the ground after each rep. A slight hover is okay.

 8. Dumbbell twist

A. Sit on the ground nice and straight with your knees bent, heels on the ground and holding a dumbbell by your sternum with both hands.

B. Twist dumbbell to the outside of your ribcage, alternating sides.

C. Twist as fast as you can for 10 seconds and rest for 10 seconds. Do this for a total of 3 rounds.

9. Lying two-way triceps extension

A. Lie face up on the floor, holding one light dumbbell facing towards and above your head. Lower the dumbbell down to your ear and extend your elbow.

B. Then with the dumbbell facing away from you lower the dumbbell to your opposite shoulder and then extend.

C. That’s one rep. Do eight-twelve reps on both arms.

tricep extension 1


tricep extension 2

10. Seated one arm shoulder press

 A. Sit up straight on a bench while holding one dumbbell in front of your shoulder.

 B. Press the dumbbell towards the ceiling until your bicep is by or behind your ears.

 C. Slowly return to the start and repeat.

Training example


Do the five-exercise circuit one exercise after another with minimal rest in- between the exercises. At the end of each circuit, rest for 90 seconds and repeat for a total of four-five circuits.

1A. Goblet squat 12 reps

1B. One arm row 12 reps on each arm

1C. Offset Spilt Squat 8-12 reps on each leg

1D. Seated one arm shoulder press 6-8 reps on each arm

1E. Suitcase carry 20 steps in each hand

When the gym is full, don’t despair. Grab your dumbbell and get a great full body training in flash.

Note- A version of this article appeared here. 


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