For some, an expensive gym membership is out of the question for financial reasons and for others, the thought of working out in a room filled with other grunting, sweaty individuals is beyond nightmarish. The solution: dumbbells. Whether that’s a super-plush Bowflex Selecttech 1090i (review) or a set of cast iron York home weights from Amazon, these simple weights are a time-honoured route to a ripped bod, or at least a more toned physique.

Now all you need is some

  • Best home weights – dumbbells
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  • Best gym gloves: weight lifting gloves to conquer any workout inside or outside the gym

Shaun Stafford is a 2x Fitness World Champion, Optimum Nutrition Ambassador and Head of Performance at top London gym City Athletic

(Image credit: Optimum Nutrition)

We’ve enlisted the hope of Shaun Stafford, who is a 2x Fitness World Champion, Optimum Nutrition Ambassador and Head of Performance at top London gym City Athletic, to give us his ultimate dumbbell workout for burning fat fast.

“The crux of this workout is simple and effective, but is based on some key pillars: we pair upper-body and lower-body exercises together into “super sets” and we keep the rest periods short and intensity high,” he explains.

“The aim is to stimulate some Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) and illicit a strong cardiovascular response, while at the same time raising the lactic acid levels in your blood, both of which have been proven to be effective when it comes to reducing body-fat,” he adds.

How to perform the ultimate dumbbell workout for fat loss

(Image credit: Centr)

To do this workout, you need a good set of dumbbells and a bit of space to perform the moves. There’s no need for any additional equipment, like benches or steps, but it will help if you have a decent pair of stable and supportive workout shoes.

“Grab a heavier set of dumbbells for the leg exercises and a lighter set (probably around half the weight) for your upper-body moves. Then find yourself some space and get cracking,” says Shaun.

“This is supposed to be short, sharp and intense, so get a timer at the ready and give it everything you have for the next 40 minutes,” he adds.

The super set format of this workout sees Shaun throw in the extra challenge of jumping from one exercise to the next, with minimal rest between them. Here, you should be aiming to transition from 12 reps of lunges on each leg to 12 reps of bicep curls on each arm, for example. See if you can do it without putting the weights down for a real lung-busting test of endurance.

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A word on nutrition

A healthy diet is essential to fuel tough sessions

(Image credit: Optimum Nutrition)

Before jumping straight into the workout, it is worth noting some top tips on nutrition from a man who knows how to fuel heavy sessions. Shaun’s quick fire tips on nutrition will make sure all the work is backed up with some solid decisions in the kitchen.

Achieve a calorie deficit to burn fat

“You may have heard about this and it is one of the key principles when it comes to fat loss and energy balance. Put simply, you want to ensure that you are consuming fewer calories everyday than you are burning in order to tap into the stored fat reserves your body has built up.

“When it comes to working out how many calories you are consuming, a basic method is to tally up how many calories (from the back of the packet on your food and drink) for a few days to give you an average. Once you have this established, try reducing this number by around 500 per day.

“This should leave you a little hungry but not ravenous, and at the end of a consistent seven days at this new calorie level, you should be around 1-2 pounds lighter. Remember, cutting out the fatty, sugary calories is far better than ditching fruit and veg” says Shaun

Consume adequate protein for muscle growth

“Proteins are the building blocks of muscle tissue and when you are training hard in the gym – or like you are with the workout suggested below – you want to make sure that you are giving your body enough resources to recover effectively.

“It is recommended that you are consuming at least 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight. Now, if you are looking at the above and thinking that is a lot of chicken, fish or red meat, you are right. But there are other options, too!

“A lot of dairy is quite high in protein and certain legumes and beans also offer strong amino profiles to supplement a wide variety of other animal-based protein.

“You can also supplement your diet with trusted and researched products such as protein shakes, protein bars and the high-protein snacking range from someone like Optimum Nutrition. All products are widely available, banned substance-tested and come in a multitude of flavours and forms: there really is something for everyone in order to get your protein levels up in a tasty and cost-effective way,” he adds.

  • How to get bigger pecs? This classic exercise will work your chest, arms and shoulders too

The ultimate dumbbell workout for fat loss

Let the sweating begin

(Image credit: Nike)

Super Set One

Stiff-Leg Dumbbell Deadlift: 8 reps

Grab a pair of dumbbells and let them hang by your side at arm’s length. Position the feet so they are just narrower than shoulder-width. Allow a slight flex in the knee but don’t bend the joint as you push your butt out and hinge at the waist for the movement.

The key here is to lower the dumbbells, with knuckles facing shins, by hinging only at the waist, keeping the back nice and flat and exhaling on the way down.

Don’t over-stretch on this movement and return back to the start of the exercise when you feel a good stretch in the hamstrings. This will be higher or lower down the leg, depending on your flexibility.

Incorporate the glutes when returning to the top of this exercise by engaging those butt muscles to help shift the weight back to the starting pose. Don’t use your back.

Do 8 of these and then go straight into…

Standing Shoulder Press: 12 reps

With knuckles facing outward, stand with legs slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart. The dumbbells should be held just outside of the shoulders.

Press the dumbbells with good form: so don’t drive through the legs or lean backwards. Instead, engage the abs for stability and call upon the lats and other back muscles to drive the weights upward. Return to start and that’s one rep.

Once you’ve completed 12 reps, you can now rest for 60 seconds. That’s one set done. Three more to go!

Super Set Two

Dumbbell Front Squat: 8 reps

Stand in the same position as you did when performing the standing shoulder press (above). But rather than driving the weights above your head, this exercise requires squatting low and driving the weight up with the legs.

Maintain a nice, flat back and only hinge at the hips. You’ll want to try and sit the butt backwards during this exercise and then drive through the heels, engaging all the major leg muscles and abs, while keeping the weights locked into the shoulders.

Now transition into…

Bent Over Dumbbell Row: 12 reps

Adopt the same position as you did for the deadlift, hinge at the hips and lower the dumbbells to shin level. Keeping that back braced and abs taught, draw the dumbbells up to chest height using the major back muscles.

Top tip: engage the lats by drawing your shoulder blades up and backwards at the same time, as if you are tucking the shoulder blades into your back pocket.

Rest for 60 seconds and repeat all of the above for four sets.

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(Image credit: Pexels)

Super Set Three

Single-Arm Dumbbell Swing: 12 reps each arm

Similar to a kettlebell swing, this exercise requires just on dumbbell held at arms length, just between the legs (you should be stood with feet shoulder-width apart).

To begin the movement, hinge at the hips, push the butt backwards and explode upwards using the glutei and leg muscles to drive the weight out and upward in front of you.

The power of the drive through the legs should be enough to let the weight swing upwards and momentum will bring it back between the legs. Remember to squat down as the weight passes through your legs and drive upwards, as you would when performing a standard squat, to ensure the back isn’t rounding.

Press Ups: 12 reps

This exercise should feel very familiar to most. Remember, keep palms flat on the floor and maintain a nice straight line running from head to toes. Don’t flare the elbows on the way down, keep them tucked in to the sides, and engage the chest, back and core when performing the explosive push-up.

Rest for 60 seconds and repeat all of the above for four sets.

Super Set Four

Alternating Dumbbell Lunges: 12 reps each leg

Grasp a dumbbell in each hand and hold at your sides, palms facing in. Stand with feet slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart and top backwards with one leg. The knee of the trailing leg should get as low to the floor as possible (without touching it) and the planted thigh should perpendicular with the lower leg.

Remember, don’t let the planted knee wander forward over your toes. Try and mitigate this by shifting the hips backwards and squatting with an upright chest, head looking forward. Now switch legs and repeat.

Standing Bicep Curls: 12 reps

Everyone has seen someone furiously working the biceps in the gym, but most perform this move wrong. Good posture is key here, so keep a high chest with shoulder blades retracted.

With elbows ‘pinned’ into your sides, curl the dumbbells simultaneously up to the point where the bicep is at maximum flex – any higher and you’ll be working the shoulders, which is not the intention here. Pause at the top and return slowly. Repeat.

Top tip: If you can’t help rocking backward and forward during this move, or swinging the dumbbells to the top of the position, you likely need to drop some kilos from your dumbbells. Also, try this move in a split-stance, with bodyweight on the front foot and the toes of the rear foot brought in for balance. This will force good posture.

Now rest for 60 seconds, repeat for four sets and you’re done!

Shaun is an ambassador for Optimum Nutrition. Check out their products here.

The Ultimate Full-Body Dumbbell Workout

You don’t need a gym filled with equipment to build serious muscle, strength, and conditioning. All you need is two dumbbells and a plan! I put together four complexes, each using nothing more than a pair of dumbbells and your body. Each complex will challenge you in a unique way.

Complexes are great because they force you to complete a high-volume workout in a short amount of time. The key is to hang on to the weight until you’ve completed all the movements. No rest until you’ve finished a round!

Andy Speer’s Dumbbell Strength Conditioning Workout Performix

Watch the video – 7:17

The Ultimate Full-Body Workout

Before you get going on the workout, grab a 10- to 12-pound dumbbell and warm up by doing the following:

Warm-Up 1 1 set, 10 Reps (in both directions)+ 8 more exercises

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Once you’ve completed the warm-up, grab a set of dumbbells, and get your mind and some weights ready. The first time you do the routine, just work through each complex as best as you can, and don’t worry if it feels a bit awkward or the weights you have aren’t ideal.

If you have more than one pair of dumbbells available, you’ll probably want increase or decrease the weight depending on the complex. In general, use as much weight as you can, but don’t go so heavy you can’t move well. Rest 2-3 minutes between complexes, and be ready to work.

Complex 1: Power and Strength Complex

When doing the cleans, use powerful hip extension to explode the dumbbells up, much like you would in the barbell clean.

When you’re done with your second, clean them one more time and then start the push presses. Use your legs! These aren’t military presses. And definitely make sure to get a solid lockout at the top with your core tight.

After the third press, bring the dumbbells down to a rack position with the dumbbells at your chest, either in a somewhat neutral grip or facing you, whichever is most comfortable. Keep your core tight, and sit back to perform the front squats.

Complex 1 1 Superset Perform 5 times, resting 60-90 seconds between rounds. 1 set, 3 Reps + 1 more exercises

  • Instructional Videos
  • Don’t risk doing a workout improperly! Avoid injury and keep your form in check with in-depth instructional videos.

  • How-to Images
  • View our enormous library of workout photos and see exactly how each exercise should be done before you give it a shot.

  • Step-by-Step Instructions
  • Quickly read through our step-by-step directions to ensure you’re doing each workout correctly the first time, every time.

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Complex 2: Hypertrophy

Now that you’ve done some explosive work, it’s time to up the rep range for muscle growth.

For the first movement, lie on the floor and squeeze the dumbbells together as you press up, which will bring more chest into the otherwise triceps-heavy floor press. During the row, hold a safe spinal position, and really try to get a good squeeze at the top between your shoulder blades.

Don’t alternate your legs on the reverse lunge. Perform 10 lunges on one leg before you switch to the next to maximize the stimulus each one gets. If your grip is feeling shot at this point, it’s fine to hold the dumbbells in the rack position. The rack’s going to give you a little more core work, but both exercises work the legs the same.

Complex 2 1 Superset Perform 4 times, resting 60 seconds between rounds. Dumbbell Crush Press Shown on a bench. 1 set, 10 Reps (lie on floor) + 1 more exercises

  • Instructional Videos
  • Don’t risk doing a workout improperly! Avoid injury and keep your form in check with in-depth instructional videos.

  • How-to Images
  • View our enormous library of workout photos and see exactly how each exercise should be done before you give it a shot.

  • Step-by-Step Instructions
  • Quickly read through our step-by-step directions to ensure you’re doing each workout correctly the first time, every time.

Complex 3: Core

You may not see anything in the exercises listed below that screams “core” like, say, the hollow rock from my “Quick Total-Body Workout,” but trust me, you’ll feel these where you should.

To make this work as a complex, perform all exercises with your right arm, rest 60 seconds, and then go through the exercises with your left arm. Keep your core tight the whole time!

During the snatch, keep your core tight and posture solid, even when you start breathing heavily. When performing the farmer’s carry, your body will naturally want to lean away from the weight, but try to lean into the weight to keep your torso nice and straight.

The get-up sit-up, or half get-up, is a great exercise for your core and far less complex than the full get-up. Keep your eyes on the dumbbell and your shoulder locked into the socket. Push through your heel on the bent-leg side. When doing plank rows, I like to elevate my nonworking arm on a dumbbell so I get a full range of motion and don’t sell myself out on the bottom of the movement. Widen your legs, which will help your hips square to the floor.

Complex 3 Perform movements with right arm, then left arm, resting 60 sec. between. 1 2 sets, 10 Reps + 4 more exercises

  • Instructional Videos
  • Don’t risk doing a workout improperly! Avoid injury and keep your form in check with in-depth instructional videos.

  • How-to Images
  • View our enormous library of workout photos and see exactly how each exercise should be done before you give it a shot.

  • Step-by-Step Instructions
  • Quickly read through our step-by-step directions to ensure you’re doing each workout correctly the first time, every time.

Complex 4: Conditioning

The final complex in this workout will test your conditioning. It may not look like much, but if you spend a little time in a split stance, you’ll see why I use this as a finisher. When you’re in a split stance, keep that back glute really tucked and tight and your torso vertical while you do the hammer curl. Switch legs before moving to the shoulder press.

During the split switch, try to keep your hips as low as possible. You’ll get off the ground a little bit, but you don’t want to be jumping around a lot. The key is to move your feet quickly and keep your torso nice and vertical.

Complex 4 1 Superset Perform 2 times, resting 60 seconds between rounds. Alternate Hammer Curl Use a split stance. 1 set, 10 Reps (per arm) + 1 more exercises

  • Instructional Videos
  • Don’t risk doing a workout improperly! Avoid injury and keep your form in check with in-depth instructional videos.

  • How-to Images
  • View our enormous library of workout photos and see exactly how each exercise should be done before you give it a shot.

  • Step-by-Step Instructions
  • Quickly read through our step-by-step directions to ensure you’re doing each workout correctly the first time, every time.

Implementing This Workout

Perform this workout twice per week for 2-3 weeks, resting at least two days between the workouts. If you like the results, keep going with it! Once the workouts start to feel static, add weight or reps, or decrease the reps. Do whatever you can to challenge yourself every time!

Lacey Stone Shares Her Favorite Heavy Dumbbell Workout for Weight Loss

Your busiest days are the ones when you need a butt-kicking workout the most. (Staying active one of the best ways to cut back on stress.) But when your schedule is relentless, exercise can seem like a chore. So you need a workout that’ll take you to the edge in a short time. This 30-minute workout from celeb trainer Lacey Stone fits the bill.

Not to mention, it’s a total-body transformer. These compound movements recruit tons of muscles, so you’ll build strength while working up a sweat. (Not feeling breathless? Go heavier with your weights.) That strength-meets-cardio intensity is what makes this workout perfect for helping you reach your weight-loss goals. (Brush up on these muscle-building, fat-burning basic facts to understand why.) So spare yourself a long run on the treadmill and try these moves instead.

What you’ll need: A set of medium to heavy dumbbells and a bench

How it works: Do all seven moves for the indicated number of reps, then repeat two more times.

Dumbbell Bench Press

A. Lie faceup on a bench holding a dumbbell in each hand, racked over shoulders with elbows pointing out.

B. Press dumbbells toward the ceiling to straighten elbows so dumbbells are directly over shoulders.

C. Lower dumbbells to return to starting position.

Do 10 reps.

Squat with Dumbbell Shoulder Press

A. Sit on the bench with dumbbells racked at shoulder height, palms facing in.

B. Press into mid-foot to stand while pressing dumbbells overhead and rotating palms to face forward, dumbbells directly over shoulders.

C. Bend elbows and lower dumbbells to shoulders, rotating palms to face in.

D. Squat back on the bench to return to starting position.

Do 10 reps.

Dumbbell Row

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, upper body hinged forward with a flat back, and knees slightly bent, holding dumbbells in front of shins with palms facing in.

B. Row dumbbells up next to ribs, pulling elbows straight back.

C. Lower dumbbells to return to starting position.

Do 16 reps.

Ballet Squat

A. Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out at about 45 degrees, and dumbbells racked at shoulder height.

B. Hinge at hips and bend knees to lower into a squat, keeping knees wide.

C. Press into mid-foot to stand and return to starting position.

Do 10 reps.

Biceps Curl

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells at sides, palms facing forward.

B. Keeping elbows tight to sides, curl dumbbells up to shoulders.

C. Slowly lower dumbbells to sides to return to starting position.

Do 10 reps.

  • By Renee Cherry @reneejcherry

Fighting The Fat… The Dumbbell Way: A 9-5 Dilemma!

Fighting Fat The Dumbbell Way

Working on a regular 9-hour shift, 3 hours of travel time to and from your workplace and home, having a 2-year old kid that is so excited to play with you waiting at the doorstep once you get home (and this kid would stick to you like a leech until the time you put him to bed).

Now, where will you be putting in your workout hours in that schedule? Sounds familiar? Yeah. I guess most of you do have this issue.

I’m a 33 year-old father of a 2-year old boy who works a regular 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM shift and needs at least 3 hours to travel to and from my home and office. As mentioned in my first 2 articles, I am an extremely overweight person (basing it on the body fat percentage I have).

For the past 11 years, I’ve been sitting on my flab (I weigh roughly around 126 kilos and stand 5’9″ before I return to working out) before I realized that I am already 33!


Click Image To Enlarge.
It Can Be Tough To Find Time To Work Out
With All The Stresses In Life.

With father time quickly running behind me, I decided that enough is enough. Hey, I have a son who looks up to me and I don’t want him to grow up staring at a big bundle of lard sitting on the living couch.

But then again, how will I do that? How will I squeeze into my hectic daily schedule the time to workout at the gym? The answer? Build my own home gym. Yes. It does make sense. At least, by building my own home gym, I would be able to have better control of my workout schedules.

I don’t have to make do with the tiring travel to the city area (around 30 minutes by bus) just to be able to have a great workout at the comfort of California Fitness or Fitness First (I am from Singapore and these 2 gyms are the biggest in this part of the world).

But how about the budget? I am earning just enough for our monthly spending and probably around 5% savings. So how will I build my own home gym? The answer… Dumbbells.

The Answer

I came across a website about “The Superior Dumbbell Workout” by fitness coach Eddie Lomax. It gave me the answer to what I was looking for. Economical ways to burn the fat off my body at the comfort of my home using what? Dumbbells.

All I needed were 2 sets of dumbbells with varying weights and one ultra-durable gym ball (so that it won’t burst when I lay my 126 kilogram body on it).

Here’s what I purchased:

  • 1 8 kg. Dumbbell pair
  • 1 11 kg. Dumbbell pair
  • 4 5 kg. plates
  • 4 2.5 kg. plates
  • 1 Gym Ball
  • 1 Dance Stepper

Now, how can this set of limited equipment burn the fat off my body? It takes a lot of hard work to figure it out. First, I purchased the e-book of Coach Lomax. I have found his dumbbell workouts to be very good. In fact, his Grinding Slow exercise routines would really bust up even for most professional bodybuilders.

The only problem I find in his recommendations is that it requires you to be very good at aerobic exercises which, unfortunately, is very far from my condition. So I needed to keep on researching. Then I stumbled upon some old MuscleMag issues from my friend and I saw some pretty cool articles on how to incorporate dumbbells into one’s routine.


Click Image To Enlarge.
All I Needed Were 2 Sets Of Dumbbells With Varying Weights.

The Workout

With some tinkering on some of the most basic workouts I have read, I came up with this basic routine which I followed for one whole month, 5 days a week.

  • Dance Stepper: 5 minutes
  • Dumbbell Squat: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Lunges: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Front Raises: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Incline Press: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Incline Flyes: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Deadlifts: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Rows: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Triceps Press: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Dance Stepper: 5 minutes

Rest is limited to at most 20 seconds per set and 30 seconds per workout. Pretty simple right? This workout, for an extremely overweight person like me, worked wonders.

It gives me the overall body workout that I am looking for and at the same time it helps in developing the strength of my lungs via the cardio movements involved without too much exhaustion.

You see, the problem with overweight guys like me is that we have a great deal difficulty in doing a routine that stresses too much on cardiovascular training.

Normally, after a single set of an explosive cardio exercise we feel drained and exhausted. Much more if you are going to design a routine that circuits more than 2 cardio exercises.

This oftentimes causes most of us not to come back for the second day. So by coming up with a routine that doesn’t make us huff and puff like the big bad wolf after each set, it would somehow encourage us to come back the next day and continue with the program. Was if effective? I can say yes, it was, at least for me.

The Supplements

Yeah, yeah. Most of you would probably be thinking that just like your jolly old product rep, I am here to promote a specific line of supps. Unfortunately, you’re wrong this time.

Promote supps, hmmm, yeah. That I will do. But from a single specific line? Nope. That I’m not going to do. What I would be discussing here is my current supplement stash that has worked for me on my road to better and brighter health.

I am currently into 3 different types of supps. I have one for fat burning (as you see, I need to cut down on my weight), a pre-workout and a post-workout supp.

Fat Burning:

For fat burning, I am currently using VPX Meltdown. Probably one of the best fat-burners in the market right now; it really gives you that jolly mood in the morning after taking your first capsule on an empty stomach or 20 minutes before your breakfast. And when I say jolly mood, I mean it’s like you start humming a song unknowingly.

Pre-Workout:

For my pre-workout supplement, I just finished my first tub of Gaspari Nutrition SuperPump250. This supp really rocks! And I mean it gives you the boost of energy needed for your workouts; it gives greater focus when doing your reps and it doesn’t cause you to crash after the draining workouts.

It gives you that push to keep on pumping those plates again and again. Just don’t be carried away on your energy as we don’t want you to overtrain yourself.

Post-Workout:

And since post-workout nutrition is so important in developing strong, lean muscles to replace my flab, I made sure I have one of it as well. My product of choice?

Universal Torrent. This is probably one of the most complete post-workout drinks available right now. It has a significant amount of creatine, protein and carbohydrates essential in muscle recovery. In short, it is simply the best for me and the taste is superb.

The Results

The results for me was pretty encouraging. From a bodyweight of 126 kilos, following the above routine religiously, I was able to trim it down to 118 kilos in approximately 3 weeks. Not bad. When converted, it totals to 17.6 lbs in 3 weeks.

I lost 1 inch on my waist (from 50 inches to 49 inches) and I had a firmed-up upper body. And although I still look big, at least I don’t look like the bloated lard I used to be.

The best thing is, I noticed great improvements in my resistance as I can run and play a 20-minute basketball game without the hassles of stopping to catch my breath after running up and down the hardcourt a couple of times.

The Outlook

With the help of Bodybuilding.com and everything in it (BodySpace, articles, best-priced supps, forum, etc.), plus the motivation coming from my wife and my son, I guess I’ll be staying in the gym for good. I don’t have any excuses anymore not to pump those plates and shed the fat since I have practically taken control of my time.

The knowledge I gained from the tons of articles I have read and the millions of advices I have seen on the forums, I really believe that I now have the best tools imaginable to combat being overweight and bring a close to this chapter of my life and physique.

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God-willing, I will continue transforming myself into a better and fitter person, and who knows, our Lord Jesus Christ might allow me to become an active and professional bodybuilding competitor (such as Arnold Schwarzenegger or Dorian Yates) before I turn 40.

Good luck and God bless. You can win that battle against being overweight and make sure to whip its @ss.

Recommended Articles

To torch fat, build muscle and get your abs on show, all you need is a pair of dumbbells. No, seriously, we’re not joking. Ok, bicep curls won’t shed the flab around your midriff – we know that – but, if you do the right moves, you will burn fat and build some serious bulk.

Did you really think we’d write a fat-burning article that didn’t involve squats?

(Related: The best moves to build bigger biceps)

Still don’t believe us? Try these 5 dumbbell and see for yourself.

1. Renegade Rows

How to do it:

1. Get into a press-up position with your hands on the handles of two dumbbells.

2. Keeping your core tensed, row the right dumbbell up to your abs then return to the start position.

3. Repeat with the left dumbbell to complete one rep.

(Related: The 400-rep back attack workout)

MH says:

Want to work your chest, your arms and your six-pack in a single move, while burning fat?

Rebel against your routine with the renegade row. Keeping your core tensed throughout ensures that your abs will be screaming 20 seconds in, while your balance is tested throughout the whole set. Set up with your feet wider than a normal press-up to help and make sure your back is in line with the rest of your body — no dropping, gents.

2. Dumbbell Goblet Squat

How to do it:

1. Stand with feet set wider than shoulder-width and hold a dumbbell with both hands in front of your chest.

2. Sit back into a squat, keeping the dumbbell in the same position then drive back up and repeat.

Related Story

MH says:

Did you really think we’d write a fat-burning article that didn’t involve squats?

The squat, one of the three kings of compound moves, is just as effective when done with a heavy dumbbell. Your leg day and your fat stores won’t know what’s hit it. Keep your shoulders and core tensed to support the dumbbell, and squat to a parallel level.

Not only will this turbo-charge your fat-loss, it’ll also offer greater mobility that will translate into other workouts, aswell as offsetting posture issues originating from a desk-bound job.

3. Dumbbell Step-Ups

How to do it:

1. Stand holding dumbbells at your side with palms facing towards your body.

2. Place your right foot onto the elevated platform and push up through your heel to lift yourself up and place your left foot on the platform.

3. Step back down with your left foot, concentrating on flexing your hip and the knee of your right leg.

4. Repeat on the other side.

(Related: 7 ways to improve your leg day)

MH says:

Use a step high enough so that your leading knee is at a right angle. Ideal as a finisher, set a timer for a minute and see how many you can do.

Go for 3-5 rounds and try and beat your number each time. Too easy? Up the weight, show off.

4. Dumbbell Clean

How to do it:

1. Squat down and hold two dumbbells, with overhand grip, in front of your feet.

2. Flip your wrists so they face forwards and bring the weights to your shoulders, slightly jumping as you do.

3. Slowly straighten your legs to stand.

4. Then, lower the weights down to your thigh before moving into squat position and repeating.

(Related: Should I Be Doing more Olympic Lifts?)

MH says:

Sprinkle a little bit of olympic weightlifting into your routine for a multidisciplinary fat-burn.

The dumbbell clean hits your quads, shoulders, arms and back in one move — ideal for a full-body burn if you’re short on time and shorter on equipment.

5. One Leg Dumbbell Deadlift

How to do it:

1. Hold two dumbbells in front of your thighs, palm facing inwards.

2. Slowly lift one leg straight behind you, bending the other slightly, and lean forward so that your arms lower the dumbbells towards the floor.

3. Pause, then return to upright position.

(Related: How to add 20kg to your deadlift)

MH says:

Much like the squat, the traditional deadlift is one of the keys of fat-burning.

Tearing weights from the floor is hard to beat — for both upping testosterone and forging muscle — meaning it’s just as effective with a pair of dumbbells, so you needn’t wait for a barbell to free-up.

Edward Cooper Ed Cooper is the Deputy Digital Editor at Men’s Health UK, writing and editing about anything you want to know about — from tech to fitness, mental health to style, food and so much more.

How To Lose Weight with Dumbbells

When you design your exercise program for weight loss, you may find yourself focused on cardiovascular workouts such as walking, cycling and swimming. You need these types of exercises to burn calories and contribute to your weight loss, but do not overlook the power of the dumbbell. Adding dumbbell exercises to your weekly routine burns calories during and after the workout 2. The increase in muscle tissue from the dumbbell workout increases your metabolism so you burn a higher number of calories, even when you are at rest. The more calories you burn, the more weight you lose.

Select dumbbell exercises for your major muscle groups. Use a dumbbell amount that is challenging on your final two repetitions of each set.

Include exercises for your shoulders, chest, back and arms. For example, perform shoulder presses, bench presses, back rows, arm curls and arm extensions.

Strengthen your lower-body with exercises such as squats, lunges, deadlifts and calf raises, all while holding a dumbbell in each hand.

Complete core-strengthening exercises including sit-ups, side bends, wood chops, and side-planks holding onto the dumbbell.

Perform eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise for each major muscle group. Complete one to three sets of each. Aim to train with the dumbbells for 30 minutes to burn approximately 228 calories if you weigh 140 pounds or 261 calories if you weigh 160 pounds.

Complete your dumbbell workouts two or three days a week to burn calories and increase your metabolism — this, along with a healthy diet, will lead to your weight loss goals. Allow two days of rest in between training days for complete muscle recovery.

Tips

Change up your dumbbell exercises every three to six weeks to keep your muscles stimulated and responding.

Warnings

Check with your doctor before you begin a weight-lifting program and to select a healthy body weight for you.

For some, an expensive gym membership is out of the question for financial reasons and for others, the thought of working out in a room filled with other grunting, sweaty individuals is beyond nightmarish. The solution: dumbbells. Whether that’s a super-plush Bowflex Selecttech 1090i (review) or a set of cast iron York home weights from Amazon, these simple weights are a time-honoured route to a ripped bod, or at least a more toned physique.

Now all you need is some

  • Best home weights – dumbbells
  • Need a diet and workout plan? Thor the Thunder God is here to help
  • Best gym gloves: weight lifting gloves to conquer any workout inside or outside the gym

Shaun Stafford is a 2x Fitness World Champion, Optimum Nutrition Ambassador and Head of Performance at top London gym City Athletic

(Image credit: Optimum Nutrition)

We’ve enlisted the hope of Shaun Stafford, who is a 2x Fitness World Champion, Optimum Nutrition Ambassador and Head of Performance at top London gym City Athletic, to give us his ultimate dumbbell workout for burning fat fast.

“The crux of this workout is simple and effective, but is based on some key pillars: we pair upper-body and lower-body exercises together into “super sets” and we keep the rest periods short and intensity high,” he explains.

“The aim is to stimulate some Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) and illicit a strong cardiovascular response, while at the same time raising the lactic acid levels in your blood, both of which have been proven to be effective when it comes to reducing body-fat,” he adds.

Get Lean With This 20-Minute Dumbbell Circuit

We have a warning for you before you embark on this workout. It’s, er, a bit challenging. The good news, though, is that the reason it’s so hard is also the reason it’s so effective. Instead of using a sequence of exercises that target different muscle groups, this workout involves doing pairs of exercises that target the same muscle group.

You start with a pair that works your chest, then move on to a pair that works your back and finish with a pair of lower-body moves. That may not seem particularly difficult, but doing back-to-back exercises that work the same muscles combined with not having rest periods between those moves will provide a real test to both your lungs and your muscles. But if you grind it out, you’ll see incredible levels of fat loss and size gains.

RECOMMENDED: More Dumbbell Workouts

How to do the workout

Do the six exercises in order, sticking to the reps detailed, without resting until you finish all the reps of the sixth and final move of the circuit. Rest for two minutes, then repeat the circuit. Do three circuits in total. As you progress you can add another circuit.

1 Incline bench press

Reps 10 Rest 0sec

Lie on a bench set at a 30-45° incline holding dumbbells at chest height with your elbows below your wrists. Press the weights directly overhead and squeeze your pecs at the top of the move, then lower back to the start.

2 Incline dumbbell flye

Reps 10 Rest 0sec

Lie on a bench set at a 30-45° incline holding a dumbbell in each hand above your face with your arms straight. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, lower the weights to the sides in an arc, then contract your pecs to raise them again.

3 Prone row

Reps 10 Rest 0sec

Lie on a bench set at a 30-45° incline holding a dumbbell in each hand, allowing them to hang straight down. Row the dumbbells up to your sides, leading with your elbows. Squeeze your back muscles at the top of the move.

4 Prone reverse flye

Reps 10 Rest 0sec

Lie on a bench set at a 30-45° incline holding a dumbbell in each hand, allowing them to hang straight down. Without shrugging your shoulders, raise the weights out to the sides in an arc, keeping your arms straight.

5 Dumbbell squat

Reps 10 Rest 0sec

Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bend at the hips and knees simultaneously to lower until your thighs are parallel with the floor, then straighten up.

6 Split squat

Reps 10 each side Rest 2min

Stand upright holding a dumbbell in each hand with your feet in a staggered stance, approximately a metre apart. Bend both knees simultaneously until your back knee is nearly touching the floor, then straighten back up.

The Best Dumbbell Exercises To Build Muscle And Burn Fat

You need to change the way you think about dumbbell training. Endless concentration curls in pursuit of the pump are, well, a waste of time. The dumbbell is a versatile piece of kit you can use at home or in the gym and, armed with a little extra knowledge, you can make them work a lot harder.

These carefully selected exercises from elite London trainer Tom Bliss will target the muscles that have the most immediate visual impact to bulk you up (that’s your arms and shoulders), but also work the larger muscles of your posterior chain (your back, bum and legs) to help burn some extra calories and shed fat. And by using exercises that create instability to focus on your core, most will become total-body moves that promise maximum benefit in minimum time, while also crafting a set of six-pack abs – no mind-numbing crunches necessary.

Head to the weight rack, pick your poison and hold on tight. This is going to hurt. In a good way.

Dumbbell Reverse Bicep Curl & Press

What: Perform three sets of 15 reps, with 60 seconds rest in between

How: Hold a dumbbell in both hands at your thighs with an overhand grip, palms facing down. Engage your forearm and contract your bicep to raise the weights up to shoulder height. From there, pinch your shoulder blades back to stabilise your shoulder joint before contracting your triceps to press the weights up overhead. Squeeze your triceps at the top to maximise the effectiveness of the rep and then reverse the movement back to the start. Lower both phases (the press and the curl) slowly for extra muscle-building benefit.

Why: Big arms and broad shoulders are useful for both beach season and broadening the silhouette of your suit. This move attacks all of your mirror muscles in one. It builds your biceps will grow because of the curl, plus you’ll add bulk to your triceps and shoulders with the press. When you’re tight for time you don’t want to waste it by focusing on just your biceps. This exercise gives you triple the bulk for your buck. Plus, Bliss says, the reverse grip hits your bicep from a new angle, as well as engages your forearm, to change the stimulus for an extra growth spurt.

Dumbbell Marches

What: Perform five sets of 20 metres and back, with 30 seconds rest in between

How: Start with two 5kg dumbbells held out in front of you. They may look small and feel light right now, but that will change quickly. Begin your march slowly, exaggerating the knee lift of every stride to tax your core and turn this move into an abs exercise, too. It’ll be tough now, but all that will be forgotten on the sun lounger in your swim shorts with a third mojito in hand. Grit your teeth. Finish the 20 metres, shake the lactic from your shoulders and go again.

Why: This exercise will hone in on your shoulders for some beach-ready muscle, but also works in lower body and core effort to melt through a few extra calories. Which will either put you one step closer to ditching the Dadbod in time for the departures lounge, or serve as an excuse to waive the two pints and a burger you snuck in on Friday lunchtime. Take your pick. Holding the dumbbells out in front, rather than lifting them for reps is a great way to build strength rather than just size, too. Which will carry across and make you stronger in all of your other upper body exercises.

Single-Arm Row On Rings

What: Perform three sets of eight reps each side, with 60 seconds rest in between

How: Hang a pair of gymnastic rings from the rig in your gym, or a tree and position them around six inches from the floor. Set up in a plank position with your arms on the inside of the tape and a light dumbbell outside each hand on the floor. Contract your glutes and brace your core to stabilise and then, with alternating hands, come off one ring, grab a weight and row it up to your armpit. Lower the weight retake hold of the ring and repeat on the opposite side. Prepare for the wobble.

Why: The Olympic rings are a gym bag hero worth investing in. Not only do they allow you to work on your callisthenics and train using just your bodyweight, but they also provide the instability needed to make a single rep switch on your entire body. The wobble in your shoulders and arms, combined with the activation of biceps and back will bulk up your upper body. And, according to Bliss, by contracting your abs and glutes to prevent total collapse you’ll hone your abs, while also activating just enough muscle fibres to make you sweat.

Bird Dog Rows

What: Perform three sets of eight reps each side, with 60 seconds rest in between

How: Position yourself in a plank with your hands up on a bench. Now lift up your left leg out behind you and hold steady. With the opposite arm, row a dumbbell into your armpit. Bliss recommends trying the exercise with a weight you can handle easily first, to get the hang of the movement, before levelling up and making your upper body muscles pay. From your armpit, lower the weight slowly to the floor, complete the set and repeat on the opposite side.

Why: The instability here will send your core into overdrive and speed your progress to a six-pack, while also working on your upper body. It’s primarily a back exercise, as you pull the weight up away from the floor, but it’ll also engage your biceps for a very welcome pump to fill out your T-shirt. More than anything else, there’s a hell of a lot going on here. It’ll focus your mind and help you to forge a body and brain connection that will make other exercises you do feel easier. Promise.

Zottmann Curl

What: Perform four sets of 12 reps, with 60 seconds rest in between

How: Simple yet effective. Hold on to a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing upwards. Curl the weights up to your shoulder, keeping your elbows pinned to your waist. As you reach the top of the rep gradually turn your hands over so that your palms are facing down. Now lower the weight under control (grit your teeth through the pain in your forearms) and reset at the bottom for rep two.

Why: This is the closest you’ll get to us recommending a basic curl. But the twist from an underhand to overhand grip halfway through the rep will shift the stimulus to target more of the bicep as well as the forearm. To spend time in pursuit of bigger arms alone, this is the exercise for you. If you’ve ever considered purchasing a ‘muscle fit’ T-shirt, now is the time.

Curtsey Squat

What: Perform three sets of 10 reps each side, with 60 seconds rest in between

How: Take your standard reverse lunge one step further. Or should we say, to the side. With a dumbbell in both hands, step back with your right foot and wrap it around behind your left. Now keep your torso facing forwards and your sink down into a squat and focus on going slowly to help maintain your balance. Push up through your left heel to reverse the movement and then repeat on the other side. Nailed it on the first try? Take a bow.

Why: Bliss explains that by changing the angle of your simple back and forth lunge, you work deeper into your glutes. This will, therefore, activate more muscle fibres in your lower body. This one may look dainty, but there’s nothing refined about the beads of sweating running down your forehead by the third set as you combine muscle-building and fat burning in one exercise.

Renegade Row

What: Perform four sets of five reps each side, with 60 seconds rest in between

How: Look familiar? You’ve got the hang of this row now and so, with this classic variation, go heavier. Set up in a plank position, holding onto the dumbbells directly below your shoulders. Brace your core to keep your hips steady and pull one dumbbell up to your armpit by engaging your back and biceps. Hold it at the top of the rep for a second and then lower to the ground under control and repeat with the opposite arm. Your back is the stronger muscle here so focus your mind on the middle of your back and pull in your shoulder blade for some extra firepower when things get tough.

Why: This is another total-body exercise that requires you to engage multiple muscle groups to complete a perfect rep. Don’t cheat yourself and allow your hips to sag. Bliss refers to this as midline stability, which translates to ‘being able to keep your body straight by using your abs’. Learning to engage them here will not only put you’re a few reps close to that six-pack you covet, but it’ll also help to teach you to use and improve your abs in pretty much every other exercise you do. So get this one right.

Half Kneeling Unilateral Press

What: Perform four sets of 10 reps each side, with 60 seconds rest in between

How: Stand up, holding onto one dumbbell in your right hand. Step back your right foot and drop down to a half kneel. Straighten up your posture. Bring the weight up to rest it at your shoulder and extend your left hand out for balance. Press the weight up explosively overhead, contracting your tricep at the top. Lower the weight to your shoulder slowly over three seconds. This extra time will maximise growth in minimum reps.

Why: This exercise is a test for both shoulder strength, but also joint stability and mobility, according to Bliss. Now, that’s not as exciting or a sexy as bulking up your shoulders enough to make wearing a vest appropriate, but shoulder mobility is an essential remedy to the hunch and rounded shoulders you develop at your desk. The upright position forces you to pull your shoulder blades back and down and to open up your chest and reclaim perfect posture. While also getting you hench, of course.

Dumbbell Floor To Overhead

What: Perform five sets of 60 seconds on, 30 seconds off

How: Grab two 10kg dumbbells and hold on tight. Hinge forward at your hips, being careful not to curve your lower back, and bend your legs your touch the dumbbells down to the floor. Push up through your heels to straighten your legs, contract your glutes to push your hips forward and straighten your back. Finally, curl the weights up to your shoulder and press them up overhead. This exercise gives you the chance to forget about form a little bit and go hell for leather, but remember to engage your glutes when you start getting tired. They’re big muscles and won’t get as tired as everywhere else. When you’re flagging, thrust them into action and see the weights fly up easily for a second wind.

Why: Bliss says the benefit of this exercises is plain and simple, you want to achieve a huge calorie burn. Deploy this one for maximum weight loss. This movement is ideal because there is nowhere to hide for any muscle, and the more muscles you use, the more calories are torched to power through each rep. From your quads to your glutes, core, back, shoulders and arms, you need all the help you can get to shift these weights from floor to ceiling over and over (and over) again.

Static Beast DB Drag

What: Perform the sequence for three rounds of 45 seconds on, 15 seconds off

How: Position yourself on all fours, with knees lifted off the floor and a dumbbell sitting out to your left. Easy right? Not anymore. Press up onto your toes to hover your knees an inch from the floor while keeping your back flat and horizontal. Lift your right hand from the floor (steady now) and reach across underneath you to take hold of the weight. Drag the dumbbell across to rest outside of your right hand side and put your hand back down. Take a breath and repeat with your left hand. This one’s going to sting, we’re afraid.

Why: In Bliss’s words – “it’s the daddy of all mid-line exercises.” To us, that means finishing with one of the toughest yet most effective core and abs exercises. Even the starting position will have you wincing if you stay there too long, but add in the instability of taking a hand off the floor to move the dumbbell and the exercise kicks into overdrive. The reason is that your core has to fight against the gravity and the rotation that will, if you don’t overcome it, see you collapsed in a heap on the floor. Anti-rotation is a far more effective core and abs exercise than crunches. It also targets your obliques to turn your nascent six-pack into a lots-more-pack. You’re very welcome.

Dumbbell weight loss workout

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