Total Body Dumbbell Workout Plan

Going to the gym to use the latest state-of-the-art equipment is pretty awesome. But if you want an intense do-anywhere, do-anytime kind of exercise routine, look no further than a whole body dumbbell workout that leaves no major muscle group untouched.

This workout plan targets and works every major muscle group to get you toned up. That means we include exercises to firm your arms, define your shoulders, sculpt your legs, lift your butt and tone your abs. As well as exercises to strengthen your back and chest (perkier breasts and a toned back anyone?), which are important for perfect posture. Posture isn’t just key for good health, but makes you look slimmer, taller, and more confident. Basically, it shows your body at it’s best, making you look better in all the right ways.

Total Body Dumbbell Workout: Instructions

Grab yourself a set of dumbbells. If you can, use two different sets of weights so you can use the heavier dumbbells on a few moves where you feel you could use some extra weight. Select weights heavy enough to tire your muscles within 10 – 15 reps.

You can do this total body workout plan up to 3 times a week on non-consecutive days. In other words, allow at least 1 day of rest between workouts or until you’ve recovered from your last workout. Remember, your body gets stronger when it is recovering from exercise.

Warm-up with light cardio for 5 – 10 minutes and cool-down with 5 – 10 minutes of stretching.

Total Body Dumbbell Workout Plan

Sets & Reps

Do 2 – 3 sets of each exercise and aim for 10 – 15 repetitions (reps). You can start with 2 sets and as you get more fit increase the number of sets.

Tip! More important than how many sets and reps you do, is doing every single move with good form. Why? Because in order to get the most out of each exercise and to work the muscles that the exercise is intended to target you need to do it exactly right – otherwise you might end up using the wrong muscles to do the move. The other reason is to avoid injury.

So, don’t sacrifice good exercise form in order to do more reps. It’s better to do fewer reps and get each one right. You can increase your reps as you get stronger. And if you have any injuries or medical conditions, clear it with your doctor first.


Here’s how to perform each exercise!


Muscles worked: Quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus 

AKA: Legs and Butt

How to perform:

  • With a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your arms by your sides and your feet about hip-width apart.
  • Step forward with your right leg, and lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to floor and your  knee is bent about 90 degrees.
  • Your front shin and torso should be vertical.
  • Pause, then push yourself back into the starting position and repeat by leading with the other leg.


Muscles worked: Pectoralis major, deltoids, triceps

AKA: Chest and Arms

How to perform:

  • Lie on your back on the floor (or on an exercise bench) with a dumbbell in each hand held directly over your shoulders. Turn your palms away from you.
  • Inhale, bend your arms and lower the dumbbells to the outside of your shoulders.
  • Push them back up, exhaling as you do so.
  • Keep your back slightly arched and your feet planted flat on the floor throughout.


Muscles worked: Latissimus dorsi, biceps 

AKA: Back and Arms

How to perform:

  • Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, bend your knees and lean forward.
  • Engage your core, and bend your arm to pull the dumbbell up and into your lower ribs, without rotating your torso.
  • Lower the dumbbell to return to starting position. That’s one rep.


Muscles worked: Hamstrings, gluteus maximus 

AKA: Legs and Butt

How to perform:

  • With a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet hip-width apart and the dumbbells in front of your thighs. Bend your legs slightly.
  • Push your butt back as far as you can and hinge forward from your hips.
  • Lower the dumbbells down the front of your legs as far as your flexibility allows. Do NOT round your lower back!
  • Stand back up and repeat.


Muscles worked: Deltoids, triceps 

AKA: Arms

How to perform:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bend and a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Raise the dumbbells just above your shoulders, palms facing each other.
  • Keeping your core braced, push your dumbbells up and overhead to full arm extension.
  • Lower them back to your shoulders and repeat.
  • This exercise can also be performed seated.


Muscles worked: Latissimus dorsi, pectoralis major

AKA: Back and Chest

How to perform:

  • Lie on your back on the floor (or on an exercise bench) with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Hold a single dumbbell in both hands. Raise your arms and hold the dumbbells up over your chest.
  • Keeping your arms straight with a slight bend in your elbows, lower the dumbbell over your head and down toward the floor until your arms are brushing your ears.
  • Pull the weight back over your chest and repeat.


Muscles worked: Quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, abductors, adductors 

AKA: Back of thighs, front of thighs, inner thighs and butt

How to perform:

  • Hold one end of a heavy dumbbell with both hands and stand so your feet are around two hip-widths apart. Turn your feet out to 45-degrees, so your toes turned out.
  • Push your hips back, bend your knees, and squat down as far as you can (or until your thighs are parallel with the floor).
  • Pause and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat.

Tip! Keep your torso as upright as possible during the entire movement, with your lower back naturally arched.


Muscles worked: Biceps 

AKA: Front of arms

How to perform:

  • Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, your palms facing forward.
  • Pull your abdominals in, stand tall, and keep your knees slightly bent.
  • Bend both arms until the dumbbells are in front your shoulders.
  • Slowly, with control lower the dumbbells back down to the starting position.
  • This exercise can also be performed seated.

Tip! Keep your elbows as close to your body as possible, and don’t support your elbows on the sides of your stomach.


Muscles worked: Triceps

AKA: Back of arms

How to perform:

  • Lie on your back on the floor with a dumbbell in each hand, with the palms of your hands facing inwards.
  • Raise your arms straight up so the dumbbells are above your shoulders, making sure your elbows are straight but not locked.
  • Slowly and with control, lower both arms toward your head, bending your elbows to 90 degrees as the dumbbells reach the floor.
  • Lower the dumbbells so they are on either side of your head, close to your ears.
  • Lift arms back up to starting position and repeat.


Muscles worked: Rectus abdominus 

AKA: Abs

How to perform:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent at 45 degrees, feet on the floor about hip-width apart, and hands lightly behind your head. Gently pull your abs in.
  • Curl up and forward, lifting your head, neck, and shoulder blades off the floor, and bringing your rib cage toward your pelvis.
  • Pause briefly, and slowly and with control lower  back down.
  • Pause, and return to the starting position.

Tip! Exhale as you crunch up, inhale as you come back down, and keep abs engaged.


Muscles worked: Rectus abdominus, erector spinea, obliques 

AKA: Abs, Side of abs (love handles!)

How to perform:

  • Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides, with your arms straight and core engaged. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Without twisting your upper body, slowly bend to the right as far as you can, lowering the dumbbell down the side of your leg towards your right knee.
  • Pause, and slowly return to an upright starting position.
  • Repeat, bending to the left side. That’s one rep.

Dumbbells are super versatile workout tools. While the resistance training machines at the gym are generally big, heavy and not available at home, dumbbells are ideal for home training.