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10 Simple Dumbbell Exercises for a Full-Body Workout

dumbbell exercises

Here’s a scary and sad stat for you – only 30.2% of Americans regularly participate in any kind of weight training regimen. And that’s without considering the fact that many Americans worked from home and had more downtime on average in 2021 because of the pandemic.

In fairness, beginning a weight training program can be an intimidating ordeal because it is brand new to even some adults and it involves showing a bit of vulnerability in public. Weight training doesn’t have to be all barbell bench presses and recumbent bikes – dumbbell exercises are a great option for beginners.

For the former, we’ll get you started with these 10 dumbbell workouts.

Dumbbell Bench Press

A twist on the old lifter’s standard bench press, this simple movement is great for beginners because it strengthens the supporting muscles that are needed for heavier barbell bench presses. It is also one of veteran lifters’ favorite supplemental arm exercises because it helps to maintain those supporting muscles in the chest and back.

Dumbbell bench presses are also relatively low impact, so beginners will be able to experiment with a trial-and-error approach – gradually working their way up in weight and helping to prevent injury.

The dumbbell bench press is performed exactly like the regular bench press. Lying on your back, begin with the dumbbells resting at chest level and then simply put the dumbbells up and in so that they touch.

Bicep Curls

Everyone knows the bicep curl, it is perhaps one of the most recognizable arm exercises involving a dumbbell. Sometimes considered to be more of a “vanity” lift than a functional one, it is still a valuable part of any weight training program because it can affect other lifts that benefit your shoulders and back.

To perform the bicep curl, simply hold the dumbbell in your hand with an underhanded grip. Lift or “curl” the dumbbell up to your shoulder by bending at the elbow. Try to isolate the bicep during the active part of the lift to help prevent back injury. 

There are several variations on the good ol’ curl, and you can perform it while standing or sitting. Pro Tip: Do them standing up once you feel comfortable doing so. It’ll force you to engage your core, making it a more full-body dumbbell workout.

Tricep Kick-Backs

As far as arm exercises go, the tricep kick-back is the polar opposite of the bicep curl. Your triceps are the muscles on the back of your upper arm and they are just as important to overall strength and functionality as your biceps. 

To perform the kick-back, put one knee on a bench or other surface that is knee-high and the same hand on the bench, as well so that you are in a kneeling position. Hold the dumbbell in the other hand up by your shoulder, then lower your arm until it is fully extended behind you. Repeat this motion for as many repetitions as your program calls for and then switch arms and legs.

Farmers Walks

Maybe the simplest of all dumbbell exercises to perform, it harkens back to the old meathead adage that weight training is “just picking up something heavy and putting it back down.”

For the farmers walk, you’re going to want to work up to as high of a weight as you are comfortable gripping – otherwise, you are wasting your time. Think of it like you’re a farmer carrying a 5-gallon bucket full of chicken feed in each hand, hence the name “farmers walk.”

To perform the farmers walk once you’ve determined an appropriate weight level, put the dumbbells on the ground slightly wider than your shoulder width. Keeping your back taut and straight, bend down and grab a dumbbell in each hand and stand back up.

Start walking – ten feet, twenty feet, whatever you prefer and have room for, just keep it consistent. Sit the dumbbells down, and repeat.

Overhead Presses

One of the most vital and beneficial arm exercises and back exercises is the overhead press. It, like the other movements above, is simple.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms out, while standing up at your clavicle or shoulder level and then each for the sky. That’s all you do – push the dumbbells straight up above your head. Repeat as desired.


Get ready to be sore. Lunges are extremely beneficial when it comes to full-body strength and functionality – but boy do they hurt the next day. Lunges will work your glutes, quads, hamstrings, shoulders, your grip, and even your balance.

To perform lunges, you can either do them while walking or in place – whatever you have space for is fine. Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms in toward your hips.

Step forward with one foot and touch the ground with the opposite knee. Repeat with the other foot and knee combination. 

Some folks will try to combine lunge with some other movement, but it overcomplicates a lift that doesn’t need fine-tuning.


Squats are another of our brutal but favorite leg exercises. Squats are debatably the single most beneficial that there is. A compound movement, squats don’t just hit your legs and glutes, they firm up your core, hamstrings, and calves. 

To perform a dumbbell squat, stand with the dumbbells in your hands in the exact same position as lunges. Keeping your back taut and straight, crouch straight down, and don’t touch your butt to the ground. Once you’re at the bottom of the lift, you go straight back up.


Popular with golfers and…well…people who chop wood…this easy dumbbell exercise works the core and shoulders. Hold the dumbbell on your shouldered twist while extending the dumbbell toward your opposite hip – not unlike that of a golf swing.


Another iteration of the “pick up heavy stuff and put it back down” creed, the dumbbell is about as simple as it gets. The single most important part of performing a deadlift, bar, or dumbbell, is to pay close attention to how your back feels. An inexperienced deadlifter can put themself in a world of hurt if they don’t catch it.

Dumbbell Rows

Last but not least, dumbbell rows are our favorite back exercises on the list. All you have to do is assume the same position that you did when you did your tricep kickbacks. This time, instead of bending at their elbow, row with your hand to pull the dumbbell up to your pectoral muscle.

Use These Dumbbell Exercises to Get Desired Results

Give us a call at one of our five area locations so that we can get you slingin’ weight in no time flat! Our helpful trainers can build off of the dumbbell exercises that you’ve learned here. Don’t be a part of the 69.2%!



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