Some days you have only 15 minutes to train; other days you’d rather stay home than fight for machines at the gym. Whether your dilemma is time or real estate, this quickie dumbbell routine can solve your workout woes and keep you on the fast track to fitness.
The key is doing multijoint functional strength moves in a circuit to burn fat, improve strength and increase stamina all at the same time. All you need is a set of dumbbells and some elbow room, and you’re good to go!
After a 5–10-minute warm-up, do these exercises in the suggested order with little to no rest in between. Shoot for 12–15 reps of each using a moderate weight, and go through the circuit up to three times depending on your fitness level and time available. Rest 60 seconds between circuits if needed. Follow up with a 5–10-minute cool-down and stretch. Voilà — afternoon delight!
Squat & Raise
Targets: front delts, glutes, quads, calves, traps, core
Setup: Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and grasp a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing the front of your thighs.
Action: Kick your hips back and bend your knees, descending into a squat. Keeping your arms straight, raise the weights in front of you to shoulder height. When your thighs come nearly parallel to the floor, reverse the move and lower your arms, pushing through your heels and extending your legs to return to the start.
Tip: Raising the weights in front of you will tempt you to lean forward; resist by keeping your abs tight and you shoulders down and back.
Swooping Triceps Extension
Targets: front delts, triceps, traps, chest
Setup: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in front of you with both hands, arms extended toward the floor.
Action: Keeping your arms straight, raise the weight in an arc until it’s overhead and your elbows are by your ears. Hold your upper arms steady as you bend your elbows to lower the dumbbell behind your head. Extend your arms overhead, then lower slowly back to the start.
Tip: Don’t swing or use momentum during this move. Be deliberate and accurate to avoid tweaking your lower back and putting yourself at risk for injury.
Targets: quads, glutes, inner/outer thighs, calves, biceps, forearms
Setup: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and hold dumbbells at your sides, palms facing in.
Action: Take a big step out to one side and bend your knee so it tracks over your toes; keep your opposite leg straight with your foot on the floor. Simultaneously curl the weights toward your shoulders, keeping your palms facing in. When your thigh comes parallel to the floor, push off your lunging foot to return to the start, lowering the dumbbells and bringing your feet together. Do all reps on one side before switching.
Tip: Work your biceps more completely by changing your hand position with each set: do hammer curls for set 1, standard curls for set 2 and reverse curls for set 3.
Push-Up And In
Targets: chest, front delts, triceps, hip flexors, core
Setup: Get into push-up position with your hands just wider than your shoulders so your body forms a straight line from head to heels.
Action: Bend your elbows to lower your chest toward the floor, keeping your abs tight and your body rigid. Extend your arms to return to the start, then bring one knee toward your chin, keeping your hips low. Continue, alternating sides.
Tip: As you improve, try to keep one foot off the floor at all times. Do your push-ups with one foot in the air, then bring that knee into your chest and repeat. This is a killer core workout!
Dumbbell Pass Crunch
Targets: core, chest
Setup: Lie faceup on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Grasp a dumbbell in one hand and extend both arms out to your sides in line with your shoulders.
Action: Contract your abdominals to lift your head, shoulders and upper back off the floor. At the top of the crunch, bring your arms together in front of your body and pass the dumbbell from one hand to the other. Open your arms back out to the sides and slowly return to the floor.
Tip: Fight to keep your shoulders square throughout the exercise. They’ll want to tip toward the weight, but contract your abs to prevent your body from twisting.