The Best Home Dumbbell Workouts

Handsome Hispanic man lifting weights
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Sometimes, there's just no way for you to make it to the gym—but that shouldn't mean that you should skip out on getting a good workout in at home. That's a simple fact that has become abundantly clear to even the most unimaginative exerciser during the coronavirus pandemic, when most fitness facilities across the country closed their doors.

If you're lucky (or you're an iron-pumping international superstar), you might have a garage full of racks, weights, and machines to keep your fitness routine strong at home. But not everyone has the square footage or the cash for their own personal sweat space, so you might have to get creative.

If you don't feel like running on the roads around your neighborhood and you're sick of pushups and bodyweight squats, invest in a set of dumbbells (if and when they're available, that is). An adjustable pair like any of these options can be incredibly versatile and take up about as much space as a small box in a corner.

Check out these workouts that use dumbbells—and household items you can grip just like dumbbells, like water jugs, backpacks, and more—can help you to get in better shape.

Iso-to-Reps Biceps Mayhem

Eb and Swole: Iso-to-reps Biceps Mayhem
by Men's Health US

This routine shows how versatile dumbbells can be, even when they're outside of the classic gym environment. Men's Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. uses isometric holds to build up the time under tension—a go-to technique for building muscle—then pumps up your arms even more by packing in extra reps with a drop set scheme.

  • Start standing, holding either dumbbells or water jugs wrapped in your towels at your sides.
  • Curl up until your forearms are parallel with the ground, focusing on rotating your palms so they face the ceiling. Hold for 8 seconds.
  • Do 8 biceps curl reps, continuing to focus hard on rotating your palms so they face the ceiling.
  • Let your palms face each other. Curl up until your forearms are parallel to the ground. Pause and hold for 8 seconds.
  • Do 8 hammer curl reps.
  • That's 1 set. Rest 45 seconds. Do 3 sets.

    Home Arm Pump Workout

    Ebenezer Samuel's Home Arm Pump Workout
    by Men's Health US

    Another routine from Samuel, this workout uses a couch and dumbbells (or a load you have handy) to blow up your arms. Give the full routine a try and you'll be flexing in no time.

    Warmup

    Child's Pose w/ Thoracic Rotation - 1 set each side, 30 seconds on, 30 off

    Bear Crawl Y-T-Is - 1 set per side, 30 seconds per side

    Workout

    Superset 1 - 4 sets

    Elevated Bodyweight Skullcrusher - 30 seconds

    Halfway Pause Biceps Curl - 30 seconds

    Rest 15 seconds (or rest 45 seconds if you don’t have load for biceps curls)

    Superset 2 - 3 sets

    Halfway Pause Elevated Bodyweight Skullcrusher - 30 seconds

    Half-Full Hammer Curl - 30 seconds

    Rest 15 seconds (or a full 45 seconds if you don’t have load)

    Superset 3 - 2 sets

    Double-Explode Close-Grip Pushups - 30 seconds

    Mixed-Style ISO-to-Reps Curl - 5-second biceps curl halfway hold, then 5 biceps curls, then 5-second hammer curl halfway hold, then 5 hammer reps

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    10-Pound Dumbbell Workouts

    There is one drawback to the workouts above, though: Adjustable dumbbell sets aren't cheap, and they can be hard to find. Likewise, you might not have any gear on hand that you can grip like a dumbbell that weighs any more than 10 or 15 pounds. That's just fine. There's no weight requirement for a good dumbbell routine, so a quality pair of 10-pounders can handle the task—if you're up to put the work in, that is.

    Check out this video to see just how many moves you can do with nothing but a pair of 10s (or again, water bottles, cans, etc.), some open space, and creativity.

    100+ Ways to Use 10 Pound Dumbbells
    by Men's Health US

    If you're not up to creating your own circuits, start with these three — built from the moves demonstrated above — to begin.

    The Shadowboxer Circuit

    Perform each move for 10 reps without pausing. Rest for 2 minutes after completing all five. Repeat 4 times for 5 total rounds.

    Jumping Jack

    Jab

    Left punch, right punch is 1 rep.

    Hook

    Left punch, right punch is 1 rep.

    Uppercut

    Left punch, right punch is 1 rep.

    Jack Curl

    The Lumberjack Circuit

    Perform each move for 10 reps without pausing. Rest for 2 minutes after completing all five. Repeat 4 times for 5 total rounds.

    Diagonal chop

    Chop left, chop right is 1 rep.

    Upward chop

    Chop left, chop right is 1 rep.

    Rotational chop

    Chop left, chop right is 1 rep.

    Downward chop

    Chop left, chop right is 1 rep.

    Low Rotational chop

    Chop left, chop right is 1 rep.

    The Power Thrasher Circuit

    Perform each move for 10 reps without pausing. Rest for 2 minutes after completing all five. Repeat 4 times for 5 total rounds.

    Vertical Jump

    Single-Leg Power Jump

    Left leg jump, right leg jump is 1 rep

    Split Squat Jump

    Left leg jump, right leg jump is 1 rep

    Twisting Skater Jump

    Left leg jump, right leg jump is 1 rep

    Bound to Backward Jump