At-home dumbbell workout tips
- Pay attention to your form to prevent injury and maximize the effects.
- Starting with lighter weights can help you get your form down. Then ramp up to heftier weights when you’re ready.
- Keep the reps slow and steady for an extra challenge.
- Feel pain? Stop. And check with your doc before starting any new workouts, especially if you have any health conditions that could be affected.
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bend elbows so the weights stack over your wrists, then bring elbows to a 45-degree angle — your arms should look like an arrow.
Press your entire back into the floor and exhale as you push the weights up over your chest. (Try not to let them bang together!) Inhale as you release back down to the floor, then reset and repeat.
Pro tip: If you’re pressing heavier weights, pick up your dumbbells before lying back, as it’s easier on your shoulder joints. Repeat for 10–15 reps or 45 seconds.
Where you’ll feel it: Chest and triceps
Hold one dumbbell in each hand and bring them to your chest as you lie back on a mat. Bring the soles of your feet to the floor, knees pointing up. With a big exhale, sit all the way up and press your dumbbells overhead, palms facing each other. Bring the weights back down to shoulder height, then roll back down to the mat.
“If you hold the dumbbells even an inch or so ahead of your chest, they actually act as a counterweight, helping you up,” Scharff says. But if you want to really feel the core burn, keep the weights touching your chest as you roll up and down. Repeat for 10–15 reps or 45 seconds.
Where you’ll feel it: Core and shoulders
Lie on your right side, holding the dumbbell on your left thigh. Stabilize yourself by perching on right forearm and engage your core as you lift left leg a foot or so into the air — really try to use your hand to stabilize the weight, not to lift it. Focus on keeping your hips square to avoid rocking forward or backward as you lift.
“Flex your foot and keep your toes pointing straight ahead, not up,” says Scharff. “Pointing the toes toward the ceiling is going to create a quad-dominant movement here, and we want to hit the gluteus medius (the sides of your butt).” Repeat for 15–20 reps or 45 seconds on each side.
Where you’ll feel it: Glutes and inner thighs
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Holding one dumbbell in each hand, rest one on each thigh and press shoulders and heels into the floor. Exhale as you lift your hips off the floor. Squeeze your glutes at the top.
As you lower back down, try to hover without actually releasing your butt onto the floor before lifting again. “You want to already be engaged at the bottom of the bridge and be more engaged at the top,” Scharff says. Repeat for 10–15 reps or 45 seconds.
Where you’ll feel it: Glutes
Sounds charming, doesn’t it? Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Holding one dumbbell in each hand, with fingers facing each other, press the dumbbells into the air. Stack the weights over your wrists and wrists over shoulders.
Press your lower back into the floor and hinge at elbows so the weights move toward — you guessed it — your skull, creating a 90-degree angle. You should feel the backs of your arms (your triceps) engage as you re-extend your arms overhead. Repeat for 10–15 reps or 45 seconds.
Where you’ll feel it: Triceps
If you were worried a floor workout would be too easy, this move will set you straight — and fast. This move starts in a hollow hold position: “Imagine doing a crunch but staying at the top,” Scharff says.
While lying on your back, press a set of dumbbells into the air over your mid chest. Peel shoulders off the floor while keeping lower back glued to the floor. Think about pressing the weights toward the ceiling as you scissor your legs, never letting them touch the floor.
This doesn’t have to be a fast movement, just big, controlled kicks. You can also do this move with one heavier weight instead of two dumbbells. Either way, go for 50 reps or 45 seconds.
Where you’ll feel it: Core
Jamey Powell is Greatist’s associate fitness editor as well as a NASM certified personal trainer, cycling instructor, yoga teacher, and triathlete. When she isn’t sweating, she’s usually eating or trying to pet someone’s dog. You can follow her antics on Instagram.