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Best Full-Body Dumbbell Workouts (Sculpt Your Dream Body)

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Last updated: March 8, 2023

Full-body dumbbell workouts effectively build strength, burn fat, and sculpt muscles, which is why in more than a decade as a fitness trainer, I have designed countless full-body routines for my clients that strictly involve dumbbell exercises.

Recently, my colleagues and I discussed our favorite dumbbell exercises, and based on these discussions, I created a couple of dumbbell workouts where each movement will target multiple muscle groups for an effective total body routine.

Let’s jump in.

Quick Summary

  • Dumbbells provide a challenging total body workout, effectively working muscles from the upper arms to shoulder muscles and lower body.
  • Plan three weekly workouts targeting the major muscle groups to get the best results and necessary recovery.
  • An effective total body workout includes compound exercises requiring different muscles to work together.

Best Dumbbell Exercises for a Full-Body Workout

Holding a dumbbell doing bicep curls

Try the following full-body dumbbell workouts, but make sure to use the appropriate weight for your fitness level and maintain stability and proper movement patterns.

Full-Body Dumbbell Workout #1

Target each major muscle group with the following exercises.

1. Squat to Overhead Press

Stand in a wide stance with dumbbells in each hand at shoulder height.

  • Lower into a squat position while keeping hips tucked under for stabilization.
  • As you stand again, press weights overhead, straightening elbows.
  • Lower weights back to shoulder for one rep.
  • Do 8-10 reps.

2. Bent-Over Row

Start by standing tall, with a dumbbell in each hand, feet hip-width apart, and arms at your sides.

  • Keep your core tight and hinge forward from the hips to ensure you don’t go lower than parallel to the floor.
  • Focus on looking a few inches ahead of your feet placement for the best neck comfort.
  • Lift weights upward toward chest level with a controlled motion while keeping elbows close to your torso.
  • Squeeze shoulder blades together for two seconds at the peak of the movement.
  • Slowly lower the weights back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps.

3. March With Dumbbell Hold

Holding two dumbbells both hand preparing for marching

Stand with a dumbbell in each hand with feet hip-width and elbows bent to a right angle.

  • Engage your core and keep your arms close to the sides of your body.
  • March by lifting your left leg and bringing the knee toward your hip.
  • Lower and repeat with the right leg.

You can march as quickly or slowly as you choose; ensure to maintain good form. March for one minute.

4. Kickstand Deadlift

Step into a staggered stance with the heel of your back foot elevated and a dumbbell in each hand. Your focus for most of this movement is on your front leg.

  1. Push your butt far back as you lower yourself until your upper body is parallel to the floor.
  2. Keep core engaged.
  3. Power up by pushing from the front heel as you stand straight again.
  4. Pause at the top and squeeze your glutes for maximum benefit.
  5. Return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for 8-10 reps.

5. Alternating Chest Press

Woman lying down while holding dumbbell

Lie down with a dumbbell in each hand and elbows at a 90-degree angle touching the floor.

  • Begin with the left arm and push the weight toward the sky until your arm is completely straight.
  • Slowly lower back down to your arm bent at a right angle again.
  • Repeat with the right arm. That is one rep.
  • Perform 8-10 reps.

6. Wood Chop

Engage your core as you firmly plant both feet wider than hip-width apart.

  • Hold a dumbbell in one hand and raise it diagonally up above the right side of your body, permitting its weight to rotate in that direction simultaneously.
  • Now “chop” down across the front of yourself, aiming for the left ankle with an equal force from the torso allowing twists and maintaining stability in your lower body throughout the rep.
  • Perform 8-10 reps.
  • Switch to the other arm for 8-10 reps.

7. Halo

Holding dumbbell behind his back for rotation

Start in a standing position, holding a dumbbell at chest level.

  • Gently raise it to eye level before guiding it in circles around your head, clockwise for one rotation until you are back to the start, then counterclockwise for one rotation. This movement is one rep.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps.

This dumbbell exercise works your rotator cuff muscles, core, biceps, and deltoids.

“To yield the best results, start slow and focus on your form first. As you progress, slowly add more weight or resistance or increase your reps and sets.”

- Katey Davidson, Certified Personal Trainer

Full-Body Dumbbell Workout #2

Woman doing goblet squat while holding dumbbells

Here is another one of the best dumbbell workouts that will get all your muscles involved.

1. Goblet Squat

Hold a dumbbell vertically with both hands securely on the handle.

  • Begin in a standing position with feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your back straight and abs tight while you bend at the waist and lower hips toward the floor while bending your knees until they reach hip level.
  • Pause for one second before squeezing quads and glutes tightly to drive up into starting position again.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps.

2. Half Kneeling to Stand Shoulder Press

Start by sinking to a half-kneeling position with your right knee touching the floor.

  • Hold the dumbbell in your right hand at shoulder height.
  • Keep your head up, shoulders back, and spine straight.
  • Raise the dumbbell straight overhead, fully extending your arm.
  • Pause at the top of the movement and stand up.
  • Lower back to the start.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps before switching to the left side.

3. Dumbbell Row

An African doing dumbbell row

Stand with a dumbbell in each hand.

  • Slowly bend at your waist until the upper body is parallel to the floor with your arms straight.
  • Powerfully drive your elbows back as you bring both dumbbells toward your torso, stopping when you reach or just pass the midline.
  • Slowly lower them back to the start with control to complete the rep.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps.

4. Stiff-Legged Deadlift

Begin stiff-legged deadlift by standing with a dumbbell in each hand down at your sides.

  • Stand up straight with your knees slightly bent.
  • Focus on keeping your back straight as you bend forward at the waist, allowing the dumbbells to lower toward your toes until you can no longer go any further without straining.
  • Power back up again so the dumbbells are at each side of you again.
  • Keep sight locked upwards so your shoulders remain level, and keep your back from rounding.
  • Perform 8-10 reps.

5. Bicep Curl

Stand with feet positioned shoulder-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing outward.

  • Brace yourself as you flex from the elbows and lift the weights to your shoulders.
  • You can go all out by raising to the eye for forehead level, but ensure the elbows remain tucked closely to the torso.
  • Lower to the start.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps.

How Often Should I Do Them?

A line of athletes holding two dumbbells

You should do full-body workouts with dumbbells three times a week, which gives the muscles time to recover in between training.

Consistent strength training provides many benefits beyond muscle growth [1].

These include:

  • Increasing bone density
  • Weight management
  • Improving balance
  • Aiding management of chronic conditions
  • Sharpening cognitive abilities
  • Improving the quality of life
  • Joint protection


Is It Okay to Work Out With Dumbbells Only?

Yes, it is okay to work out with dumbbells only. Combining dumbbells with a healthy diet and proper form offers an effective and efficient way to build strength and gain muscle mass.

Can I Do Full-Body Dumbbells Every Day?

You can do full-body dumbbells every day, but it is not a good idea. Muscles need recovery time; working them every day doesn’t allow for rest.

It would be best if you aimed to do a full-body dumbbell workout two or three times per week.

Include Dumbbell Exercises in Your Workouts

When it comes to dumbbell exercises, there’s no beating a full-body routine.

Adding deadlifts, squats, and presses to your weekly workouts helps you build strength and muscular endurance.

I also advise my clients to use pre-workouts as they can increase energy and workout intensity, ensuring maximum effectiveness of each exercise.

We have extensively tested the most popular products on the market to come up with these lists of best performers, so make sure to check them out so you can get the most out of your total-body dumbbell workouts.


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