The One-Dumbbell Workout

Who needs a pair? Ditch the duo and heave one weight for a better body from head to toe.
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Sometimes, one just won’t cut it. Double Dutch is just plain old skipping without the second rope. A stir-fry becomes a messy disaster with just one chopstick. And unless you’re Mr. Peanut, two eyeglass lenses are always best for 20/20 vision. But with weight training, using only one dumbbell can actually work to your advantage. Transform your body today by riding solo — we’ll show you how.

Your Workout Plan

Grab a dumbbell (10 to 15 pounds to start), then put everything you know about strength training on the backburner. Not only does this workout shake things up from the equipment side, it totally changes the way you strength train. “It’s all about variety, which will give your muscles the greatest challenge,” says Pete Cerqua, author of High Intensity Fitness Revolution for Women.

Do the exercises in the order listed, but rather than focusing on sets and reps, go by the clock. Complete each move using slow, controlled motions for 90 seconds. Rest for about a minute between each exercise. Finish all five moves and you’re done!

Why no second set? “If you do the one set properly for the full 90 seconds, it’s the equivalent of doing three traditional sets,” explains Cerqua, noting that the number of reps you would accomplish in a single 90-second set can trump the number of reps you’d knock out in three 12-rep sets.

Related: Total-Body Blast

After you’ve done this workout three times, change the order of the exercises. Mix them up any way you like — even by simply shifting one exercise to a different spot in your workout sequence – to provide your body with the variety it craves.

Stiff-Legged Deadlift to Bent-Over Row

Stiff-legged deadlift to bent-over row total body dumbbell workout

How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and hold a dumbbell in one hand at your side. Lean forward from your hips to bring your torso parallel (or close to parallel) to the ground; your arm should hang below your shoulder. Hold this position, then perform five rows, keeping your arm tucked close to the sides of your body at the top of the motion. Extend your arm, contract your glutes, and stand. When your set is through, switch sides.

Offset One-Sided Walking Lunge

Offset one-sided walking lunge total body dumbbell workout

How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in your right hand. Take a step forward with your left foot and bend both knees to lunge. Extend both legs, step your right foot forward and plant it beside your left, then step forward with your right foot and lunge. When your set is through, move the weight to your left hand and repeat, leading with your left foot.

Sumo Squat Front Press to Overhead Press

Sumo squat front press to overhead press total body dumbbell workout

How to: Stand with your feet spaced wide and toes pointing out slightly. Hold a dumbbell with both hands (one end in each hand) close to your chest, with your arms bent and elbows tucked close to your sides. As you squat, press the dumbbell in front of you at chest height until your arms are straight and parallel to the ground. Extend your legs to stand as you bring your arms back into your chest. At the top of the motion, press the dumbbell straight above your head. Lower the weight back to the start, and repeat.

Curtsy Lunge with Curl

Curtsy lunge with curl total body dumbbell workout

How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and hold a dumbbell with one head in each hand and arms extended down. Step one foot behind and to the outside of your other foot, and bend both legs to lower your body towards the ground. As you lower, bend your elbows to bring the dumbbell towards your chest. Reverse the move to return to the start. Finish your set, then repeat on your other side.

Press & Crunch

Press and crunch total body dumbbell workout

How to: Lie face up, with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold the dumbbell a few inches above your chest with both hands. Lift your shoulders off the ground; at the same time, press the weight up by extending your arms. Slowly lower back to the start, and repeat.

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