Dumbbell Crossfit Workout Routines (Transform Your Physique)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: January 8, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Dr. Kristy Dayanan, BS, MD
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As a seasoned fitness coach, I often recommend CrossFit classes to my clients for improved endurance with diverse movements, but CrossFit also provides great chances to include dumbbells in workouts.

To explore this further, I collaborated with a certified CrossFit instructor and conducted trials of various CrossFit WODs over three weeks. Also, I invited some clients to participate, observing how they adapted to these CrossFit dumbbell workouts.

We analyzed the impact of these exercises on their muscle development and weight loss. Here's everything we found.

Quick Summary

  • Several CrossFit workout routines incorporating dumbbells include Helton, Nick, Painstorm, and Makimba.
  • Unlike bodyweight exercises like pull-ups and bar dips, dumbbell CrossFit workouts give you a lot more control over which muscles you activate.
  • Research suggests that regular exercise, including high-intensity workouts like CrossFit, improves cognitive function, strength, and power; however, improper form during execution may lead to significant long-term injuries.
  • As a fitness trainer, I frequently recommend that clients plan a supplement stack, incorporating top pre-workouts for CrossFit, to enhance their CrossFit dumbbell workouts.

5 Dumbbell Exercises for CrossFit

Man doing dumbbell crossfit workout indoor

When attempting these CrossFit workouts for the first time, start with lighter dumbbells to familiarize yourself with the movements. After completing a round, you can increase the weight loads to intensify the burning sensation more quickly.

1. Helton

The target weight is 35 lbs., but you can begin with a lower weight and progressively increase it beyond 35 lbs. It's a simple yet highly effective workout for building endurance, as per research from the Cleveland Clinic [1].

The objective is to complete three rounds within the specified time:

2. Nick

Doing dumbbell squat

This is an advanced exercise that demands the balance of a gymnast for the push-ups. You should also be comfortable with the strength and endurance required for a Hero WOD, as it will challenge your body.

The Nick WOD consists of completing 12 rounds for time. Each round is relatively brief, but don't be deceived:

  • 10 dumbbell hang squat cleans
  • 6 handstand push-ups while balancing on dumbbells

3. Painstorm

We're entering a challenging workout, and you'll observe the rising repetitions for each exercise. Complete seven rounds for time:

  • 10 man makers (dumbbell push-up, squat clean thruster, and renegade rows)
  • 20 dumbbell deadlifts
  • 30 alternating dumbbell snatches
  • 40 single-arm dumbbell overhead lunges
  • 50 dumbbell swings

As a fitness coach, I always tell my clients to pick a single dumbbell for the whole round, so it's crucial to choose wisely based on your strength and comfort level.

4. Makimba

Doing dumbbell burpees

For Makimba, grab a single dumbbell that works well for both the dumbbell thrusters and squats. The workout consists of three rounds, completing 15-10-5 reps for time:

  • Dumbbell thrusters
  • Air squats
  • Burpees
  • Overhead squats

5. Tumlison

The goal is to complete eight rounds for time, so be sure to choose your dumbbell wisely. While the initial rounds might feel manageable, it will quickly become challenging:

  • 200-meter sprint
  • 11 dumbbell burpee deadlifts

As a fitness trainer, I personally wouldn't underestimate the impact of burpee deadlifts with dumbbells—they truly make a significant difference in the effectiveness of this workout.

Timing and Integration With Your Routine

Leg exercises with dumbbell

If your routine includes both weight lifting and cardio, consider incorporating one or two of the mentioned workouts weekly. For intermediate athletes, swapping a cardio day with Tumlison or Helton WODs is beneficial, focusing more on endurance than strength.

I often suggest to my clients that they choose one of the recommended workout routines to replace a day focused on the upper body.

It's something I've seen work well, as some clients have found success exclusively doing CrossFit for a few weeks to boost their endurance for various sports.

Related articles:

Support Your Efforts With Supplements

When you work hard with dumbbells, you’re going to get to the end of a workout with muscles like jelly.

And to get the best results and performance improvements, there are two supplements you need to consider.

First, you’ll need to give your body high-quality protein to help build up and repair muscle tissue. The better the quality, the more effective your recovery period will be, as per the National Institute of Health [2].

“Since it’s the building block of muscle tissue, it’s not surprising that protein helps bulk up your muscles. And while it’s important to eat sufficient protein in your overall diet, it’s especially beneficial for muscle growth after a workout.”

- Barbie Cervoni MS, RD

FAQs

Can You Do Crossfit With Just Dumbbells?

Yes, you can do CrossFit with just dumbbells. However, most WODs that involve dumbbells also introduce bodyweight exercises to provide a bit of variety.

What Are the Most Common Dumbbell Weights for Crossfit?

The most common dumbbell weights for CrossFit are 35 pounds for women and 50 pounds for men. This all depends on the movements, as some will require significantly lighter dumbbells.


References:

  1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/24754-cardiovascular-endurance
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6142015/
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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