Forget the gym — this 6-move dumbbell workout can be done from home, with limited space

a photo of a man doing dumbbell push up workout
(Image credit: Getty/Oscar Wong)

Whether you’re still working out from home, or you’re traveling and looking for a quick workout you can do in a hotel room or small hotel gym, we’ve found a great workout that’ll help you work up a sweat, without needing a lot of space or equipment. You’ll need your body weight and two of the best adjustable dumbbells for this one. Ready to get started? Read on to find out more. 

As always, when it comes to selecting the best weight for your workout, remember that you should opt for a weight that is challenging by the final few reps, but never too heavy that you have to compromise your form. If you’re new to exercise, or you’re returning to exercise following an injury, it’s a good idea to check your form with a personal trainer before adding weight to the move. 

What is the workout? 

This dumbbell workout repeats the following six exercises three times. If you’re a beginner, you might want to have a quick 60-second rest between circuits. If you’re more advanced, try and complete the circuit three times without taking a break.

Overhead reverse lunge: 12 reps on each side

For this exercise, start standing on an exercise mat with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand, extended above your head, then step back on your left leg into a reverse lunge, engaging your core, thinking about squeezing your belly button in towards your spine. As you step out of the reverse lunge, bend your knee and raise your knee towards your torso. As you lower your knee down to the ground, step back into another lunge. 

Repeat for 12 reps on one leg before switching sides. 

Alternating squat to snatch: 10 reps

For this exercise, start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and a dumbbell in between your feet. Squat down, pushing your glutes back, and grab the dumbbell with one hand, as you raise out of the squat, lift the dumbbell overhead into a snatch. As you lower back into a squat, lower the dumbbell back down to the ground, and switch the arm you are snatching with. 

Deadlift to wide row: 10 reps

Holding a dumbbell in each hand, complete a deadlift, bending your knees and hinging your hips back, lowering the dumbbells down your thighs. Here’s more on how to deadlift with the perfect form. At the bottom of the move, with a slight bend in your knee and your back flat, complete a wide row, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Drive through your feet to return to your starting position. 

Plank to straddle squat: 10 reps

Holding a dumbbell in each hand, lower them down to the floor and jump your legs back, so that you are in a high plank position, with your abs engaged, so that you have a straight line from your head to your heels. Hold for a couple of seconds, then jump your legs back in, wider than your hands, and complete a straddle squat, keeping your arms straight, with a dumbbell in each hand. 

Biceps curl: 10 reps

Begin by standing tall, feet about hip-width apart, with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forward. Your arms should be hanging by your sides, close to your torso. With your upper arms stationary and your shoulders relaxed and back, exhale and bend your elbows to raise the dumbbells to your shoulders. Hold for a moment at the top of the move, then inhale as you lower the weight back to the start position. That’s one rep. 

Keep your elbows close to your torso throughout; if they tend to flare out, lighten the load for now. Read what happened when this fitness writer did bicep curls every day for a week

Squat to shoulder press: 10 reps

For this exercise, start with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, with a dumbbell in each hand, resting on your shoulders. Squat down, engage your core, and push your hips back. As you return to your starting position, pushing down into the floor, raise both dumbbells above your head into a shoulder press. That’s one rep. 

All of the exercises on the list above are compound exercises, which means they are working more than one muscle group at a time. “Compound exercises are a compact and efficient way to develop muscle mass, strength, and power across your entire body without spending hours in the gym,” writes Tom’s Guide’s in-house personal trainer, Sam Hopes. 

As well as helping you burn more calories in a short amount of time, compound exercises can be beneficial for your body, whatever you’re training for. “Compared with isolation exercises, these multi-joint multi-muscle moves recruit more of your body to work together and could develop flexibility, mobility, and agility alongside mobility exercises. Because these moves mimic daily activity, they could help your body move in better harmony,” says Sam. Here’s more information on the benefits of compound exercises, and why you should be adding them to your routine. 

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Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.