You don’t need the gym to build full body strength — use this 6 move dumbbell workout instead

a woman performing a dumbbell lunge and press
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you like to be efficient with your exercise, then full-body workouts should be your weapon of choice. Full-body strength sessions allow you to engage multiple muscle groups in a single workout. Naturally, this approach is particularly advantageous for those with busy schedules who struggle to find time to travel to the gym regularly.

For this full-body blast, you needn't attend any gym, you just need to get your hands on one of the best adjustable dumbbells or any standard dumbbell. If you're new to strength training or unsure of your strength level, begin with a lighter weight to master proper form and technique without risking injury. 

The workout comes from fitness trainer Senada Greca and involves a selection of compound movements to target muscles throughout the upper and lower body. Be sure to prioritize form as you work through the exercises. This not only ensures that the right muscles are being engaged effectively but it also helps to prevent injury.

What is the full body dumbbell routine?

You will complete eight to 12 reps of all six exercises and should aim to complete four sets in total. This will be demanding so be sure to allow yourself breaks in between reps and sets. 

Similarly, be sure to allow your body proper rest after completing the full workout. Giving your muscles time to rest and repair is essential for growth.

Below is a breakdown of the routine and you'll also find Greca's demonstrations of each exercise that should help you to establish proper form with each move.

  • Lateral squats with press: 8-12 reps
  • Chest press with leg raises: 8-12 reps
  • Static squat curls: 8-12 reps
  • Lateral travel offset push ups: 8-12 reps
  • Reverse lunge to high knee: 8-12 reps
  • Lateral lunges with rows: 8-12 reps

With an eight- to 12-rep range and the goal of four sets, this workout format encourages muscular hypertrophy and strength gains, making it a great routine to pick up and give a whirl if you're looking to start building muscle mass and enhance your overall strength. 

The variety of compound exercises incorporated in the routine, such as lateral squats with press, chest press with leg raises, and lateral lunges with rows, ensures muscle activation is happening in both the upper and lower body. 

Plus, this dumbbell session is a sure way to promote functional strength in your body. Functional training is something everyone should get involved with to make everyday tasks easier and pain free such as lifting objects, climbing stairs, bending, reaching. 

Exercises like lateral squats with press, reverse lunges to high knee, and lateral lunges with rows require coordination, stability, and strength across various planes of motion, similar to the demands of daily activities. 

If you want to keep up the gains beyond this dumbbell workout, you will want to incorporate progressive overload by gradually increasing the intensity, volume, or complexity of your exercises over time. This can be achieved by adding heavier weight to your lifts, performing additional sets or reps, or incorporating new exercises to continually challenge your muscles. 

We know this advice is obvious when it comes to getting results but, consistency is important. Sticking to a regular workout schedule and ensuring adequate recovery through proper nutrition, sleep, and rest days are crucial. 

Additionally, mixing up your workouts to target different muscle groups and incorporating both strength training and cardio exercise will help prevent plateaus and increase your overall fitness and health.

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Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.

Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.

She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.