A Leaner, Meaner Body

Add muscle and burn fat with this head-to-toe dumbbell program.

Lara McGlashan MFA CPT | October 25, 2016

We get it — sometimes you just can’t make it to the gym. Whether you’re burnt out on the machines or just can’t handle the rush-hour crowd, we’ve got just the back-to-basics solution to set you straight. All you need is a set of dumbbells and a little elbow room to make this program work.

Using just eight super-efficient and effective dumbbell moves, Oxygen has made it easy to reach your fat-loss, build-more-muscle goals. We’ve created three different workouts, giving you multiple options for several weeks of at-home training. Whether you want to burn fat, add muscle or just get in a quickie, there’s a workout for you. So dust off those dumbbells and clear the coffee table — it’s time to do your homework!

Workout 1: Fat Blaster

After a thorough warm-up, do the exercises in the order as programmed in the circuit to elevate your heart rate and burn fat and calories. Use a light or moderate weight and perform each move for one minute, with no rest in between moves or rounds. Do two rounds if you’re a new athlete and up to four if you’re a veteran. 

  1. Dumbbell Squat
  2. Push-Up/Row Combo
  3. Stiff-Legged Deadlift
  4. Weighted Dip
  5. Overhead Walking Lunge
  6. Seated Front/Lateral Raise Combo
  7. Biceps Curl/Overhead Arnold Press Combo
  8. Weighted Russian Twist 

Workout 2: Slow Build

After a thorough warm-up, do two straight sets of each exercise for the prescribed number of reps using a moderate to heavy weight to add muscle and definition. For the last set, do a super-slow negative (eccentric) contraction, taking up to 10 seconds to lower the weight, for the prescribed number of repetitions. Rest up to 60 seconds between sets. 

Exercise

Sets

Reps (Set 1, Set 2, Set 3)

Dumbbell Squat

3

20, 20, 10

Overhead Walking Lunge

3

16, 16, 8

Stiff-Legged Deadlift

3

15, 15, 10

Push-Up/Row Combo

3

10, 10, 5

Seated Front/Lateral Raise Combo

3

10, 10, 5

Weighted Dip

3

10, 10, 5

Biceps Curl/Overhead Arnold Press Combo

3

10, 10, 5

Weighted Russian Twist

3

20, 20, 10

Workout 3: Time Crunched

After a thorough warm-up, do the supersets in the order prescribed to burn fat and calories while also saving time. Perform the supersetted moves back-to-back with no rest in between using a moderately heavy weight and resting no more than 30 to 45 seconds between supersets. Do each superset two to three times through, depending on how much time you’ve got to train.

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Biceps Curl/Overhead Arnold Press Combo

– superset with –

Overhead Walking Lunge

2-3

10

 

10 each leg

Stiff-Legged Deadlift

– superset with –

Dumbbell Squat

2-3

15

 

15

Seated Front/Lateral Raise Combo

– superset with –

Weighted Dip

2-3

10

 

15

Push-Up/Row Combo

– superset with –

Weighted Russian Twist

2-3

10

 

20

The Moves

Dumbbell Squat

Setup: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes turned out slightly, and hold the dumbbells at your shoulders, elbows down.

Move: Kick your hips back and bend your knees to lower into a deep squat. Drive through your heels and extend your legs to return to standing, squeezing your glutes at the top.

Make it easier: Do it without weight

Make it harder: Pause for three full seconds at the bottom before standing.

Overhead Walking Lunge

Setup: Stand with your feet together and hold a set of dumbbells straight up over your shoulders with your arms extended.

Move: Take a large step forward and bend both knees to sink straight down into a lunge, keeping your front knee over your ankle and your torso upright. When your front thigh comes parallel to the floor, push off your rear toes and step your feet together. Continue, alternating sides.

Make it easier: Hold the dumbbells at your sides.

Make it harder: Perform with one dumbbell only, adding an element of balance and core stabilization to the mix.

Push-Up/Row Combo

Setup: Place a set of dumbbells on the floor shoulder-width apart. Get into a push-up position with your hands on the dumbbells and your legs extended behind you. Align your head and hips so your spine is neutral.

Move: Bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the floor while keeping your body straight. Extend your arms back to the start, then hold and pull one dumbbell up and into your rib cage. Replace and do another push-up, then row with the other hand. Continue, alternating sides.

Make it easier: Perform the push-ups on your knees.

Make it harder: Continue your row by lifting the weight into the air and opening your body to the side to come into side plank. 

Biceps Curl/Overhead Arnold Press Combo

Setup: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a set of dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms facing forward.

Move: Bend your elbows and curl the weights up to your shoulders. Then continue upward, extending your arms to press the weights overhead and turning your wrists and the dumbbells so your palms are facing forward at the top. Reverse the steps to return to the start and complete one repetition.

Make it easier: Split the move into two separate exercises.

Make it harder: Perform while standing on one leg, or on a BOSU, to engage your core.

Weighted Russian Twist

Setup: Sit on the floor with your knees bent and hold a dumbbell by the ends at your chest, elbows bent. Lean back to balance on your tailbone with your back straight, core tight and feet lifted off the floor, shins are parallel to the ground.

Move: Hold this balance as you twist your torso side to side, trying to touch your elbow to the floor on either side of your hips with each rotation.

Make it easier: Place your feet on the floor for stability.

Make it harder: Extend your arms out straight to increase the lever arm and thereby the difficulty of the move.

Weighted Dip

Setup: Sit on the broad side of a flat bench with your hands on either side of your hips, fingers forward, and squeeze a dumbbell between your legs. Press into your palms to lift your glutes off the bench and shift them forward so your weight is supported between your hands and your heels. Keep your shoulders down and your chest lifted.

Move: Bend your elbows and lower your glutes toward the floor, descending until your elbows make 90-degree angles. Then press through your hands and extend all the way to the top, squeezing hard at the peak contraction before going into the next rep.

Make it easier: Perform without the weight.

Make it harder: Elevate your feet onto another bench or raised platform and place the dumbbell in your lap.

Stiff-Legged Deadlift

Setup: Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart, toes forward, knees straight but not locked. Hold a set of dumbbells in front of your thighs, palms facing rearward.

Move: Hinge at the hips and fold forward with a straight back, descending until the weights are just below your knees (or a little lower if you’re super flexible). Rise up all the way to standing and squeeze your glutes at the top.

Make it easier: Ditch the weights and place one hand on a stable object to help you balance.

Make it harder: Perform with one leg at a time.

Seated Front/Lateral Raise Combo

Setup: Sit on the end of a flat bench or chair and hold a set of weights at your sides with your palms facing rearward.

Move: With straight arms, raise the weights to a point just above shoulder height in front of you. Pause briefly, then lower to the start. Then turn your palms inward and raise the weights up and out to the sides, lifting them to a point just above shoulder height. Pause, then lower to the start to complete one repetition.

Make it easier: Perform each move separately.

Make it harder: Do one arm at a time, or perform while sitting on a stability ball.

About the Author

Lara McGlashan MFA CPT

Oxygen Fitness Editor Lara McGlashan has more than 15 years of experience as a writer and editor, who specializes in health, fitness, and nutrition. 

Lara is an ACE-certified personal trainer and fitness consultant. Her sports background includes skiing, snowboarding, flying trapeze, yoga, competitive beach volleyball, dance, mountain biking, hiking and running, to name a few endeavors. She is currently exploring the world of CrossFit in her home base of Connecticut, where she lives with her 2-year-old son, Alex.

You can follow her on Facebook at LaraFitnessEditor.