This Single-Dumbbell Workout Builds Serious Muscle

Simplicity is a virtue. Some strength coaches and trainers design workouts that use every piece of equipment in the gym, plus other gear you’ve never even seen before. That can limit your ability to use their programming if you don’t have access to all those implements, whether you’re at home, on the road, or training at a barebones gym.

But this workout allows you to build total-body strength and forge resilience with twisting and lateral movements that target your glutes, mid-back muscles, and abs. The best part: You’ll do it all with one dumbbell.

Directions: Do the exercises in order. Rest 30 seconds between sets and 90 seconds between exercises. Do 3 sets of each move. Use a medium-weight dumbbell or kettlebell.

The Warmup

Squat to T-Spine Rotation

Start standing, feet shoulder width apart. Bend at the waist, lowering your hands to the floor, palms facing up. Step gently on your fingers. Bend your knees, pulling your torso down into a squat. Tighten your hamstrings. Raise your right hand toward the ceiling. Return it to the floor and repeat on the other side. Stand back up. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets of 5.

The Single-Dumbbell Strength Workout

1. Single-Arm Overhead Pendulum Lunge

Start standing, a dumbbell held overhead in your right hand. Step back with your left leg, then bend at the knees and hips, lowering into a lunge, right knee at a 90 degree angle and left knee an inch from the floor. Stand and step your left foot forward, lowering into a forward lunge. Return to standing. That’s 1 rep; do 8, then repeat on the other side.

2. Single-Arm Snatch

Start standing, feet slightly wider than shoulder width, a dumbbell or kettlebell between your feet. Tighten your core and push your butt back, then bend your knees slightly and lower your torso until you can grasp the dumbbell with your right hand.Stand up explosively and squeeze your glutes, pulling the dumbbell upward and keeping it close to your body. Once it reaches shoulder height, punch your hand upward, driving the bell overhead. Tighten your core and stand tall. That’s 1 rep; do 8 per side.

3. Lateral Lunge

Start standing, holding a dumbbell in your right hand at your right shoulder, core tight. Take a large step to the right with your right foot. Keeping your left leg straight, push your butt back and bend your knee slightly, lowering until your right thigh is nearly parallel with the floor. Press back up explosively, returning to a standing position. That’s 1 rep; do 8 per side.

4. Single-Arm Bent-Over Row

Stand with a dumbbell in your righthand, core tight. Push your butt back, bend your knees slightly, and lower your torso until it’s at a 45 degree angle with the floor; let the dumbbell hang naturally. This is the start. Keeping your hips and shoulders square to the floor, pull the dumbbell to your rib cage. Pause, then lower it. That’s 1 rep; do 8 per side.

5. Single-Arm Dumbbell Swing

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width, a dumbbell on the floor about 2 feet in front of you. Bend at the waist and push your butt back, bending your knees slightly and lowering your torso until you can reach the dumbbell with your left hand. Keep your hips and shoulders square to the front. Pull the dumbbell back between your legs, then stand explosively and squeeze your glutes, driving the bell forward. Let it swing back between your legs, pushing your butt back as it does, then stand again and squeeze your glutes. Do reps for 20 seconds on each side.

6. High-Plank Pull-Through

Start in pushup position, a dumbbell outside your right hand, core and glutes tight, hands shoulder width apart. Keeping your hips and shoulders square to the floor, reach your left hand across your body to grab the dumbbell; pull it to the left and place it just outside your left shoulder. Repeat the process with your other arm. That’s 1 rep; do 10.

A version of this story originally appears in the September issue of Men’s Health, with the title “THE ONE-DUMBBELL MUSCLE-BUILDING BLAST”.

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