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How to Do a One Dumbbell Workout

Woman doing Russian Twists with one dumbbell.
Karla Tafra

So, you only have one dumbbell? Great, you have plenty to crush your workout. Even just one dumbbell can add just enough challenge to your usual exercises so you can feel it the next day.

The most important thing about dumbbells is knowing how to properly hold them to avoid injuring yourself or straining your back. And since most dumbbells look similar, you can apply the same technique with any type you can find in your gym or online.

Dumbbell Squats

Grab a dumbbell with both hands and bring it in front of your chest. Take a big inhale and slowly start lowering your hips down and back, like you’re trying to sit on an imaginary seat behind you. Keep your spine straight, core engaged, and your chest lifted, but lift your belly button up and tuck your hips so you’re not creating too big of a curve in your lower back.

Once you’ve reached your maximum depth (aim for as close to parallel to the floor as possible), start exhaling and straightening your legs. Push the ground away from your through your legs and keep your spine straight. At the end of your exhale, squeeze your glutes. Repeat 12-15 times.

15 lb Dumbbell

One large dumbbellto challenge your workouts.

Dumbbell One-Legged Romanian Deadlift

Start in a standing position and bring your feet in a hip-wide stance and keep them parallel. Take a dumbbell into your right hand and lift your right leg back. Place your left hand on your left hip, inhale, and gently start bending over your left leg, bringing your right hand down, dumbbell close to the floor.

Exhale and use the power from your left leg to lift your body back up to standing. Keep your core engaged throughout the entire exercise as your balance is challenged and maintain a straight back. Repeat 12-15 times and do the same over your right leg. Try to engage your hamstrings and feel them stretch and contract, avoiding the move to come solely from your lower back.

Neoprene Dumbbells

Set of two light dumbbells.

Dumbbell Snatch

Come to a standing position and separate your stance a bit wider than hip distance. Place the dumbbell on the floor in between your legs and squat down. Grab the dumbbell with your left hand and on your exhale, lift the dumbbell, and in one full motion, straighten your body and bring the dumbbell over your head.

Slowly come back down to your squat and explosively lift up. Squeeze your glutes at the very top and keep your core active. Repeat 10-12 times and do the same with your right hand.

Adjustable dumbbells

Don't have space for a full weight rack? These adjustable dumbbells are here to help!

Dumbbell Back Pulls

Grab a dumbbell with your right hand and lean over a bench, chair, or another sturdy surface. Straighten your back and let your right arm fully extend to the floor, isolating your back muscles. Inhale and bend your right elbow, lifting the dumbbell close to your body. Exhale and relax, extending your arm all the way towards the floor. Inhale and squeeze, exhale and extend.

Keep your elbow close to your body as you lift and fully engage your core. Repeat 12-15 times and do the same on the other side.

Dumbbell weight rack

Stack your dumbbells neatly.

Dumbbell Plank Pulls

Start in a plank position with a dumbbell straight under your chest. Take an inhale and slide the dumbbell to your left using your left hand. Lift your right hand and reach for the dumbbell to slide it over to the right. Repeat this motion 10-12 times and feel your abs and obliques burn every time you reach over.

If you want to take this exercise to the next level, instead of sliding the dumbbell, lift it up and carry it over to the side. Lifting the heavy dumbbell from the floor requires core strength and stability and it will really add a challenge to your workout.

Gym equipment Cleaner

Cleans all of your gym equipment from sweat and germs!

Dumbbell Triceps

Come to a standing position, grab the dumbbell with both hands, and bring it over your head so that it’s hanging over the space in between your shoulder blades. Inhale and on your exhale, extend your arms over your head, extending your triceps. Inhale and bring the dumbbell back to the starting position.

Keep your elbows as parallel as you can and engage your core muscles so you’re truly isolating the triceps. If you feel like your back is taking over and your form is compromised, sit down. Repeat 12-15 times.

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Dumbbell Russian Twist

Sit on the floor and bring your legs together, bending the knees. Take the dumbbell with both hands and bring it in front of your chest. Lean your body slightly back to activate your core and start twisting the dumbbell from your left to the right hip, feeling your abs and obliques on fire.

You can leave your feet on the floor or take it to the next level and lift your legs up. If you do so, squeeze your legs together so they feel like one large limb and isolate your core as much as possible to reap the benefits. Go for 20-30 twists.

Microfiber towel

Keeps your sweat off.

If you’re more of a kettlebell person instead of a dumbbell, try this workout instead!

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »
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