Written by Lee Boyce
It can be frustrating (and unrealistic) to get hyped about training content that assumes you’ve got access to a fully stocked gym. Learning you need a 45-degree back extension machine or a Roman chair when what you have on-hand consists of what you can find in your living room is a recipe for throwing in the towel on your workout altogether. For that reason, we like to keep things simple. If you have one rogue dumbbell sitting at home (or that’s all you could forage at your gym for today), don’t feel stymied. This total-body workout shows you how to get creative and be efficient, and proves you have all the options you need in one singular piece of equipment.
This workout is made up of supersets. Complete four rounds of each superset, resting one minute between rounds, before moving on to the next superset.
EQUIPMENT NEEDED: One dumbbell (between 15 and 25 lbs is recommended)
A1) Tempo Goblet Squat
Hold the weight vertically at chest level and stand with feet hip-distance apart. Sit the hips back in a three-second count, sinking into a rock-bottom squat. Make sure the heels are flat on the floor and the knees align with your toes. Pause briefly at the bottom and ascend, but only to the halfway point and freeze for a full second count. Then, return to rock bottom. Finally, stand all the way up. That’s one rep.
Trainer Tip: This exercise takes advantage of an extra half rep to reduce momentum and kinetic energy, while doubling up on the quads’ effort.
A2) Single-Arm Dumbbell Snatch
8 reps per arm
Take a shoulder-width stance and hold the dumbbell with one hand, between the legs at knee level. Keep the back flat, knees slightly bent, and chest over the weight. Using your legs to jump and your shoulder to shrug, “throw” the weight up overhead in one shot. It’s important to make sure the weight doesn’t travel away from you, but rather in a straight line. “Catch” the weight by slightly bending the knees, and ensure the load is directly overhead. To lower the load, first control it down to shoulder level. Then, in one motion, drop the weight back down to the starting position.
Trainer Tip: Though this single dumbbell may be a bit more than you can press with good technique, it likely isn’t more than you can snatch. The explosive power trains fast twitch muscle fibers, and also kickstarts metabolic demand. This movement promotes caloric burn and coordination.
B1) Single-Arm Braced Row
12 reps per arm
Assuming a flat-back posture, choose a working arm for classic dumbbell rows, and place the opposite knee against a wall. While creating this tension, perform your reps by focusing on the upper back as you row the dumbbell upwards.
B2) Single-Arm Floor Press
12 reps per arm
Lie flat on your back with the shoulder blades slightly retracted. Plant the feet flat on the floor, or for an added challenge, lift and hold the feet off the ground with the knees bent at 90 degrees. Start with the weight over the shoulder with a fully extended arm, and slowly lower the weight toward the chest, with the arm on a 45-degree angle. Let the triceps touch the floor, then exhale as you press upward.
Trainer Tip: Floor presses are a safe alternative to bench presses because the ground blocks the elbow from traveling behind the body. For many, too deep a pressing bottom end-range can lead to shoulder pain.
C1) Hollow Body Chop
Lie with your back flush with the ground, holding the dumbbell in two hands above you. Raise straight legs up to the ceiling, then lower them as low as you can while maintaining a flat lower back, while at the same time, lowering the arms slowly overhead. Use the full range of motion in your shoulders. With control, raise arms and legs back up.
12 reps per side
Place the dumbbell on the floor and sit down behind it with straight legs. The dumbbell should be in line with the ankles. Point your toes, and flex the quads hard, maintaining upright posture. Using your abs, hips, and quads, raise the straight legs over the dumbbell, tapping the heels down to the opposite side, and then return to the start position and repeat.
Trainer Tip: Place the hands on the floor beside the thighs to avoid leaning too far backward.