You don't need the gym to build muscle — try this outdoor 15-minute dumbbell workout instead

Man performing dumbbell overhead lunges on grass during outdoor workout
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You can rock up to any local outdoor space and benefit from this quick and efficient 15-minute outdoor workout with weights. 

Now the weather is finally getting warmer, spending time outdoors feels more appealing than sweating it out in stuffy and overcrowded gyms or exercising at home. You just need a set of light to medium dumbbells or the best adjustable dumbbells if you prefer using a range of weight selections, and if you can find a park bench or similar, this will come in handy, too. 

Below, we cover the 15-minute dumbbell workout in more detail, including ways to scale and the benefits.

How to do the 15-minute outdoor workout with dumbbells

Accumulators are used to achieve high volume, repetition and muscular fatigue using a simple format — accumulation, as the name suggests. You can do these workouts anywhere, with or without weights, and modify them to load using one weight where preferred.

Here’s a brief rundown of each exercise:

  • Local park run
  • X 10 reps renegade rows
  • X 15 deficit push-ups
  • X 20 dumbbell step-ups (or walking lunges)
  • X 25 devil press
  • X 30 goblet squats

Set a 15-minute timer, then decide on a short route you can run a lap of in your local park. Depending on your fitness level, aim for between 200 to 600 meters. Complete a lap, then move straight into 10 dumbbell renegade rows. Then, run another lap of your park route, move into your renegade rows and follow up with 15 deficit push-ups. Continue until you’ve completed every exercise above, always starting from the top and adding the next exercise on the list each time.

Dumbbell renegade rows

Renegade rows combine a plank with a row, and you could even add a push-up if you prefer more of a challenge. Maintain a strong high plank position with the dumbbells positioned directly beneath your shoulders and your stomach, glutes and quads braced. Row one dumbbell toward your hip, allowing the elbow to pass above your back. Return to the starting position, then row with the other arm. Complete 10 reps total. 

Dumbbell deficit push-ups

Adding a simple deficit increases your range of motion, meaning your chest has further to travel to reach the bottom of the push-up position. Increased range of motion also increases muscular tension, working muscles for longer. 

Hold a dumbbell in each hand and start in the push-up position, then perform a push-up, lowering your chest to the floor and pausing at the bottom. Push upward to the starting position and complete 15 reps. For beginners, use your knees if you haven’t got full push-ups locked down.

Dumbbell step-ups

If you can find a park bench or similar, use it for your step-ups. Performing weighted step-ups works the glutes, hips, quads, hamstrings and calf muscles, and the higher the step, the harder step-ups become.

Remember — you have a run to complete afterward. This is known as running compromised, or under fatigue, and forms the main focus of Hyrox competitions, where runners will complete a series of 1km efforts with exercise stations in between. The goal is to strengthen your muscles toward endurance. 

Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand facing the bench. Step onto the bench with one foot, then press through your leg to stand on the bench. Place your other foot on the bench, pause, then step down, leading with the opposite leg. Remember to switch the leading leg for each rep, and complete 10 reps per leg. If you don’t have a bench, switch to walking lunges instead. 

Dumbbell devil press

The devil press gets its name for good reason — it takes you to the pain cave. The move works the entire body and ramps up the heart rate, so we recommend pacing yourself. Pick a set of weights that allow you to complete 25 reps unbroken or go heavier and complete the reps in sets of 5 to 10 reps. But remember, you’re against the clock. 

Stand with your dumbbells in front of you, grip them and jump back into a high plank position. Lower to the ground between the dumbbells, press back up, then jump both feet just behind and wide of the dumbbells. Lift your chest, keep your back flat, then hinge at your hips and send your bum behind you. 

Swing the dumbbells slightly between your legs (similar to a kettlebell swing), then snap your hips forward and extend your legs, sending the dumbbells upward. Keep both elbows bent, press the dumbbells overhead and extend the arms at the top. Reverse the steps back to the starting position.

Dumbbell goblet squats

Dumbbell goblet squats are a staple leg day exercise, hitting the lower body while recruiting the core muscles. Perform a squat using a goblet grip (hands cupping one end of the dumbbell) and ensure you lower until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Adopt a tripod position with your feet, pressing down through your big and little toes and heels rather than sending your weight forward.

Aim to complete 2 sets of 15 reps or 3 sets of 10. If you’re feeling brave, go for the full 30 reps in one go. 

Trainer tips

One of the most important considerations of this workout is determining load. Too light, and you’re in danger of cruising through, but too heavy, and you won’t get anywhere near the finish line. 

If it’s your first time trying this workout, or you consider yourself a beginner, go lighter or extend the timer. I used two 10 kg dumbbells (roughly 22 lbs), but you could use several sets of weights or adjustable dumbbells to allow you to scale freely. 

Limit rest — there’s a difference between taking rest because you can and resting because you need to. I recommend completing the rows and push-ups unbroken and breaking up the rest of the exercises as detailed above. Whichever distance you choose for your run, stick to the same distance throughout. You're against the clock, so you can't hang around for long between moves or runs, which should keep the intensity high (you're welcome).

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Sam Hopes
Senior Staff Writer - Fitness

Sam Hopes is a level III qualified fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and senior fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. She is also about to undertake her Yoga For Athletes training course. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods.  When she's not writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech and workouts, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and wellness.