Twenty-minute total-body dumbbell workout

Hello there! How’s it going for you on this fine Thursday? I taught an incredibly sweaty back-to-back group fitness session at the gym last night and woke up rested, so that’s a good thing. But let me tell you, after a week away from the gym and a lot of laying around on my trip to Florida, I had to fight to make it through the two hours of working out and teaching. Oh, and you may have heard the San Francisco Giants won the World Series, so my second class last night was a little sparse due to people watching that important game. Baseball season is over, and now it’s basketball season here in the Bay. Go Warriors!

Nonetheless, on to today’s topic. As a group fitness instructor, I spend a ton of time in the studio working out with other people, but I also like to find time for my own workouts. Just me, some weights and silence. Yes, that’s right. I work out on my own with no music at all.

Lately, I’ve been using just a few pieces of equipment to come up with total-body workouts that can be completed in no time at all. I got some great feedback on the four-move total-body dumbbell workout I created, so I made another one for you, and this one is even shorter. Let’s face it, while group fitness can be fun enough to last an hour, most of the time, we just need to maximize our time at the gym and don’t want to spend all day. But guess what? You don’t even need a gym for this workout.

To start, grab a set of medium dumbbells and a heavy dumbbell. I’d suggest starting with 8 lbs. and moving up to 10 lbs. for the mediums and 15 lbs. for the heavy. I designed this work to target all the planes of motion (that’s front-to-back, side-to-side and rotational), so if you move quickly through the sets, you’ll hit all the big muscles and break a sweat. 

I’d say go for 10 reps of everything and repeat three times. You can also up your weight a bit, do 8 reps of everything and repeat four times, but that will take a little bit longer. Use the light weights for the first move and one heavy weight for the rest of the moves.

Disclaimer: This may not be right for you. It’s just an example of something that I do in the gym. Ask your trainer or doctor before proceeding with caution!

20-minute total-body dumbbell workout

20-minute total-body dumbbell workout via A Lady Goes West

The four moves explained

Below are a few notes on each move, with links to the proper execution from around the web. Let me tell you, when researching these moves, I’ve confirmed that there is a lot of bad form out there, even in tutorials. Be careful what resources you use.

  1.  Lateral lunge to bicep curl  — This moves targets the hamstrings, glutes and biceps. Use the lighter dumbbells. Stand with the dumbbells at your sides, feet hip width. While keeping your chest up, step out long to the side, tip from the hip and push your butt back as your moving-leg knee bends. The moving leg’s knee should track in line with the foot. One you are lunging, curl the dumbbells up, while keeping your elbows back and under your shoulders and your chest up. As your arms come down, you stand up and return to set. Repeat on the other side.
  2. Lying straight-arm pulloverThis move targets the lats, shoulders and triceps. Use the heavy dumbbell. Lay on your back on a bench or on the floor. Hold a dumbbell by the bell portion, pushing your palms in to keep it secure. Start with your arms straight up and over your shoulders above your body. Then, take your arms back over your head behind you, nice and straight. Keep your shoulders back and down and use your upper-back to pull the arms straight up back in front of you above your chest, hold at the top for a second at the starting position. You will feel a little stretch in the chest on the extension portion. At the top you should reset your shoulders down and away from the ears. Try not to let your shoulders raise up, because the work should be underneath your body and in the back of the arms.
  3. WoodchopThis move targets the core and shoulders. Use the heavy dumbbell. Hold the dumbbell with both hands in front of you, arms extended. Squat back, lowering your butt and hips down and bring the dumbbell beside your shin on one side. As you stand up, bring the dumbbell up and across your body, stopping just above the shoulders on the opposite side (it goes up and diagonal). Keep your core tight and shoulders down. Try not to let your hips turn at all, so they stay square to the front.
  4. Resisted hip bridge — This move targets the glutes, hamstrings and quads. Use the heavy dumbbell. Lay on your back, place a dumbbell on your lap, then bend your knees and put your feet about shoulder width apart. When you go to lift your hips, you should hold the dumbbell in place on your lap. Drive your heels into the floor to activate your glutes and squeeze your butt at the top. Try not to over-arch your back, but stop when your body makes a line down from your knees. If you want to make sure your heels are digging in, you can lift your toes up just a bit.

There you go. In just 20 minutes you can tone your whole body and be on your way.

Speaking of toning, I’m heading out in a bit to Barry’s Bootcamp for a little sweat session, and I have a fun special event tonight. I’ll be back in the morning for another edition of “Friday Favorites,” so stop back and say hello.

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Questions of the day

Do you ever work out at home? Do you own dumbbells? What’s the best thing that has happened in your week so far? Any workout requests?

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20 Comments

  1. I actually did the 4-move workout this morning and loved it! At 5:30am, it’s so nice to have a prescribed workout. Thanks for creating another one–I will definitely be giving it a try 🙂

    1. I have enough noise in my life, between blaring music while teaching group fitness and the sounds of the city. Sometimes I like a little quiet. 🙂

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