No gym is complete without a decent set of dumbbells. Don’t get us wrong — personal trainers, fancy gyms and complicated fitness equipment will all help you get fit — but all you really need to be in great shape is some room to move and a set of dumbbells.
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On second thought — you only really need one dumbbell.
Single-dumbbell workouts are getting increasingly popular because of their simplicity — just pick up the weight you’re comfortable with, and you’re ready to start growing those muscles. To select the right dumbbell for your fitness level, try out the heaviest piece that allows you to do between seven and 12 reps without losing form. Beginners should aim for a rest period of two minutes in between sets and gradually cut down on that time as their fitness improves. Here’s a quick rundown of useful single-dumbbell exercises you can add to your exercise routine.
Narrow Goblet Stance
Take a shoulder-width wide stance. Grab a dumbbell with both hands by one of its ends and hold it vertically an inch or two in front of your chest. While keeping your back as straight as possible and your chest high, squat deep as if sitting in an imaginary squat until your torso forms a 90-degree angle with your thighs. Press through your heels to return to the starting position for one rep. Aim for three sets of 15 reps while ensuring you retain proper form. The muscles of the front thigh muscles (quadriceps) as well as the glutes should feel the burn.
Single Arm Bent-Over Row
You’ll need a bench or table for this move. Place your knee and the palm of your left hand on one side of the table and hold the single dumbbell in your right hand extended towards the floor. Pull the dumbbell up to your rib cage with the weight as close to your side as possible. Bring it back down for one rep. Aim for three sets, between seven and 12 reps on each side. This workout will build the muscles of the serratus anterior area of the rib cage.
Single-Arm Bench Press
Who says a bench press can only be done with a barbell or a set of dumbbells? The single arm dumbbell workout will build your shoulders and chest while also strengthening your arms. To do a single arm dumbbell bench press, lie on your back on a bench while holding your dumbbell to chest level. Your other arm should be by your side. Push the dumbbell upward toward the ceiling until the arm is fully stretched out. Lower it back to the starting position for one rep. Aim for 10 reps and then switch arms to complete another set. Do three sets in total.
Kettlebells are usually the favored piece of equipment for this workout but dumbbells will work as well. To do this workout effectively, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and grab a dumbbell with both hands in an overhand grip. With the dumbbell still held in both hands, lower your chest until the dumbbell is positioned between your legs. Now, with the drive coming from your hips and your core kept tight, push the dumbbell forward and swing it as high as shoulder level. Allow the dumbbell to swing back between your legs and repeat the push motion to complete one rep. Aim for three sets of 15 reps.