Dumbbells are the most universal gym tool around. They allow you to work unilaterally, helping eliminate developmental imbalances between bodyparts, and they offer a degree of safety for those who train alone because you won’t run the risk of getting caught under a loaded bar. You can hit every major muscle group with dumbbells and can adapt just about every barbell move in existence to be dumbbell-centric.
Technique — AMRAP (as many rounds/reps as possible)
In an AMRAP, you’ll perform a workout for the duration of time prescribed and note how many rounds plus reps you complete. “It’s an effective fat-burning tool because there is a productive overload effect, as opposed to doing standard sets and reps at a relaxed pace,” Farmer says. “It also helps develop tenacity — once you feel your mental ‘switch’ flip on during a gnarly AMRAP, you’ll know what I mean!” Though you’ll want to work quickly to get the most amount of work in the time allotted, never sacrifice your form or you’ll run the risk of injury.
The 20-Minute Dumbbell AMRAP
Do as many rounds and reps as possible of the below workout in 20 minutes. Record your score and try to meet or beat it next time you do the workout.
10 Dumbbell Renegade Rows
20 Dumbbell Thrusters
30 Dumbbell Stiff-Legged Deadlifts
40 Dumbbell Walking Lunges
Dumbbell Stiff-Legged Deadlift
Hold a set of dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms facing rearward and your feet hip-width apart. Retract your shoulder blades and keep a flat back as you hinge at your hips to fold forward, sliding the weights down past your knees to midshin. You can bend your knees slightly, if needed. Reverse the steps to return to standing, and squeeze your glutes for a little extra oomph.
Dumbbell Renegade Row
Hold a dumbbell in each hand and get into a push-up position with your shoulders directly over your hands and your head, hips and heels aligned. Keep your hips square and your spine neutral as you drive one elbow up toward the ceiling, pulling the weight into your rib cage. Pause briefly, replace and repeat with the other arm. Then perform a push-up, keeping your elbows in close to your sides, to complete one rep.
Tip: If you have trouble staying balanced and square, spread your feet apart to create a more stable base.