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Simple Dumbbell Strength Circuit

Happy weekend! So many of you have requested strength workouts that you can do at home or at the gym with minimal equipment. I am happy to program workouts to share with all of my readers. I figured it would be best to start with some of the most basic strength movements that I commonly for my classes and clients. As I continue to post workouts, I will build on and start adding in more complex and different exercises. I love to keep things fresh and my clients always ask me how I come up with my workouts and I commonly hear, “that was the hardest one yet.”

I designed this workout so that all you need is a set of dumbbells and your own bodyweight. You can easily do this on your own at home or in the gym.Β It’s a full-body workout so I would suggest doing it two or three times a week with a rest day in between. You can choose the rep scheme. I would recommend starting with three sets of 10 or three sets of decreasing reps like 15-12-9. You can also vary and do two sets of 15 or 20 to work endurance a little more. You’d want to go a little lighter on your weights if you’re doing higher reps. Heavier if you’re sticking with sets of 10. Make sense?

And because I am fanatical about form, I made a quick video that coaches all of the movements. I get louder as I go and ignore the fact that I got too close to the camera and my head is cut off near the end. You don’t really need to see my head anyway after looking at me for 5 minutes straight. I’ll get this video thing down, promise! And yes, I am wearing Uggs in a workout video. It was 27 degrees with freezing rain in Charlotte yesterday and I didn’t bring any sneakers with me to the gym! Go with it. πŸ™‚

As always, I welcome feedback and questions so let me know what you think! Go get strong!

{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Maria January 26, 2013, 3:22 pm

    This is great! Thanks! Do we do all of the exercises one after the other like a circuit? Or do we do all 3 sets of squat to overhead, then 3 sets of flyes, etc.? How much rest should we take between each circuit/set? Lastly, did you learn the proper form for these exercises just thru practice? Or was that one of the things you learned when you got your PT cert? Thanks (as always).

    • Jen January 26, 2013, 3:34 pm

      hi maria – yes, this is meant to be a circuit so you go through all the exercises and that is one set. rest period between sets really depends on the pace that you’re working at. if you’re taking your time with it, you should be fine to just keep moving through. i do usually give my clients a one minute water/breathing break between sets because i push them to keep moving through the set with minimal breaks between exercises. form/technique knowledge has mostly come from trainings (bodypump, PT, crossfit) and experience.

      • Maria January 27, 2013, 10:06 pm

        Awesome! Thanks!

  • Lauren January 26, 2013, 5:17 pm

    just did this workout at home…in my Uggs! subbed pushups for burpees though, due to footwear πŸ™‚ thanks for the video, was extremely helpful and definitely made me concentrate more on my form. happy saturday!

  • Liz January 26, 2013, 5:21 pm

    The circuit was fantastic! What a great way to get in what you need .
    Sometimes I go in and s start my weight training and I am all over the place . This way I can have a nice overall workout with cardio !

    Uggs were a great touch !

    Liz from freezing Chicago πŸ™‚

  • Anita January 26, 2013, 5:38 pm

    Really helpful!! Thank you!!!

  • Katherine January 26, 2013, 8:56 pm

    I should try this workout πŸ˜›


  • Kim January 27, 2013, 12:35 am

    This is great! Thank you for posting the video showing the proper form!

  • Amy January 27, 2013, 6:10 am

    I love this!!!! Thank you so much….I have printed this workout and plan on doing it today. I love to strength train (especially workouts like this that I can do at home) but need new ideas because I tend to do the same exercises over and over.

    I really appreciate you taking the time to post a workout and video for your readers πŸ™‚ Ever thought about doing online personal training? I’d sure sign up! πŸ˜‰

  • Anna January 27, 2013, 9:52 am

    Thank you so much for posting this! I just joined a gym and have felt a little awkward in the free weight area, so now I have something to follow that is simple yet looks effective! πŸ™‚

  • Anne January 27, 2013, 10:03 am

    Thanks ! It’s very generous. You’re a very good teacher and I’ll do this workout for sure !

    • Anne January 30, 2013, 2:15 pm

      Is it possible to put all the videos (yoga+weights etc.) together, so it’s easier to find them on the blog ? If we miss one, we can have them in one place… Thanks !

      • Jen January 30, 2013, 3:26 pm

        yes, ma’am! i’ll get on it! thanks for the suggestion.

  • Parita @ myinnershakti January 27, 2013, 1:21 pm

    Thank you so much for this workout! We don’t have a gym near us, so at home workouts are it for me. I can’t wait to try this one. πŸ™‚

  • Katie January 27, 2013, 3:38 pm

    Cannot wait to try this tomorrow. The video is so helpful.
    Just to echo the other commenter, I’d sign up for online training, too!

  • Katie January 27, 2013, 4:58 pm

    I did this workout at the gym today and LOVED it! Thank you so much! I look forward to future workouts from you.

  • Lesley January 27, 2013, 8:22 pm

    Thanks for this. I don’t love strength training and struggle to keep it as part of my workouts. I did this today and it was a good challenge, but not too involved. Maybe this time I can develop a habit with your helpful and encouraging posts.

  • Michelle January 27, 2013, 9:11 pm

    Thanks for sharing this with your readers! This is so great for me, because I am a beginner and I don’t have a lot of equipment or access to a gym. I’m bookmarking this post!!

  • Jillian January 29, 2013, 5:34 pm

    I did this today because I didn’t feel like braving the cold this morning to head to the gym but I also didn’t want to miss my work out! I plan to incorporate this into my weekly workouts–it was awesome. Thanks, Jen!

  • Katy January 29, 2013, 10:26 pm

    Hey jen – which muscles in your upper body/arms/back should you feel when doing the Sumo dead lift high pulls? Any further tips on how to ensure I am doing this one right? It’s the only one that feels awkward. Thanks!!

  • Amanda S. July 17, 2013, 12:58 pm


    Thank you so much for posting this workout. I am making a move away from longer traditional lifting routines to circuits/crossfit-style workouts like these…and its AWESOME. The workout has done so much for my body, great moves, and mind, great efficiency! I look forward to exploring your site further and trying more of your wonderful postings.

    PS – Your post about kindness was SPOT…ON. A little can go a long way.

  • Tara April 3, 2014, 8:54 pm

    I did this today w some slight modifications and it took me just under 30 mins. Great total body workout!

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