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Total Body Dumbbell Strength Workout (21 minute or 43 minute options!)

Thank you for all of the well wishes for me and Zoey. We are on the mend. I am going to try and change the dressings on my burns today which I am not looking forward to. I might have to make Tanner do it. Does anyone else get squeamish with stuff like that? I’m taking Zoey to see her regular vet this afternoon at 5 p.m. for follow up blood work and a check up. I was thrilled to learn that they don’t charge an office visit for follow ups from the emergency vet. That is a blessing after the bill we footed at on Tuesday. (She was worth every penny but still painful.)

Speaking of vets, I’ve had quite a few people ask who I use in Charlotte. We go to Dilworth Animal Hospital and see Dr. Michelle Cameron. I have used her since I moved to Charlotte. I think Sullie was 2 or 3 at the time? And she’s the only vet Zoey has ever seen. She is the one who did Sullie’s surgery last year for the mast cell tumors. I love her and always feel like she gives me straight, honest info and truly cares about my girls.

Okay, last dog update…I SWEAR. My TimeHop told me this morning that it’s National Puppy Day. Here’s a #throwbackthursday to both of my girls as puppies! Sullie on the left and Zoey on the right. Sullie always got mistaken for a lab because she wasn’t super fluffy but Zoey was a total fluff ball. Sweeties.

I would post a picture of Arnie as a puppy (he’s 15!!!!!) but I’ve never seen one. I’m sure he was a cutie. I’ll have to ask Tanner if he has one.

Back to regularly scheduled programming. I have a workout for you!

total body dumbbell strength workout

It’s a total body workout that can be 21 or 43 minutes long depending on how many times you repeat the sets. The best part is that the only equipment you need is a set of dumbbells!

I taught this workout on Tuesday night when I subbed Pure Resistance at the Dowd Y.It was a great workout and I joked at the end of class that there was, “no muscle group left behind.”

Local readers…I’ll be teaching this class every Tuesday in April at 6:30 p.m. at the Dowd Y except for the 25th. Come get strong with me!

Total Body Dumbbell Strength Workout

A total body strenght workout using dumbbells. Options for a 21 minute or 43 minute workout!

Here’s how this workout works. Perform each exercise in set 1 for 1 minute for a total of 10 minutes. Take a 1 minute break and then perform each exercise in set 2 for 1 minute for a total of 10 minutes. At this point you can either take a 1 minute break and start over again with set 1 and repeat the workout for a total of 2 rounds or you can call it a day and be done with 1 round.

Totally up to you depending on how much time you have and your level of fatigue. We did it 2x through in class. I programmed this workout so that it alternates between upper and lower body so know that when you really start to burn out towards the end of that minute that relief is coming. I find that this helps me to really keep challenging myself with my weight selection.

Speaking of weight selection, it is totally what makes this workout “no big deal” or an awesome strength challenge. Pick up dumbbells that are challenging. Never sacrifice your form for picking up heavier weight BUT if it feels a little easy or you’re not getting to that burnout feeling towards the end of the minute, you need to up the weight a bit.


total body dumbbell strength workout


  1. Push up – just your standard push up.
  2. Goblet squat – hold one heavy dumbbell at the center of the chest and squat keeping the chest up, core engaged and weight in the heels. Feet placed a small bit wider than hip distance apart.
  3. Overhead shoulder press – hold two dumbbells at the shoulders and press them overhead. Be sure to straighten your arms fully, biceps by the ears and don’t use your low back. If you find that you are, either split your stance or place one foot on the bench to stabilize the core.
  4. Static lunges R – right leg forward, left leg back. Hold two dumbbells and lunge down and up, keeping the chest lifted and front knee in line with the front ankle.
  5. Bicep curl – hold two dumbbells and work through a full range of motion for the curl. Don’t use momentum! Keep the core locked in.
  6. Static lunge L – repeat #4 on the left side
  7. Overhead tricep extension – hold one dumbbell overhead with straight arms. Bend the elbows and lower the dumbbell behind your head, keeping your elbows hugged in and shoulders relaxed away from the ears. Straighten back out and keep the biceps by the ears.
  8. Romanian deadlift – in a standing position, hold two dumbbells right in front of the thighs. Feet are under the hips. Start to hinge at the waist, slightly bending your knees and pushing your butt back as you lower the dumbbells down to knee level or mid-shin. Spine stays super straight throughout and keep the weight pushed back in your heels. Engage glutes and hamstrings to come back up.
  9. Chest fly – Lay back onto a bench or the floor. Hold two dumbbells with straight arms directly over the shoulders and turn them to face each other long ways. Open the arms with a slight bend in the elbows and drop down until elbows are in line with the bench. Squeeze the chest as you come back up. Like hugging a big beach ball.
  10. Bench reverse curl – drop your weights and reach overhead and grab the bench behind you. Anchor yourself down with your arms as you lift and lower knees into chest. Keep the heels dropped down towards your but the whole time. Lower feet back to tap the bench. Keep your low back pressing down towards the bench the whole time. No bench? Modify by placing your hands by your sides or under your butt and do the same movement of drawing knees into chest and then tapping the feet to the floor.

total body dumbbell strength workout


  1. Bent over row – holding two dumbbells out in front of you, bend at the waist and lean forward a bit with a straight spine. Draw the elbows back behind you and squeeze the shoulder blades together, targeting the upper back. Lower back down and straighten the arms. Keep the gaze under the nosetip and don’t round at the shoulders. Feet under the hips or legs together to touch.
  2. Curtsy lunge R – holding two dumbbells or working with bodyweight, step the left foot back behind your right (short step back, not long) crossing at the knees. Dip your left knee down as you bend your right. Be sure to keep the right knee vertically aligned over your ankle the whole time. Step the feet back together or for a more advanced option, lift the left knee into the chest each time you come up.
  3. Upright row – holding two dumbbells in front of your thighs, long ends pointing to the right and left, bend the elbows and draw the dumbbells up the front side of the body. Lead with your elbows and lift the dumbbells to center of the chest.
  4. Curtsy lunge L – repeat #2 on the left side.
  5. Tricep kickback – hinge forward like you did for the bent over row. Holding two dumbbells, bend your elbows at 90 degrees and tuck them into the sides of the rib cage. This is your start position. Straighten the arms by squeezing dumbbells and sending dumbbells back behind you. Return to start position.
  6. Single leg deadlift R – holding one dumbbell with a hand on each side, stand on your right leg and start to hinge forward like you did for the romanian deadlift. Send the left leg straight back behind you, pointing the toes towards the floor and keeping the hips square.
  7. Hammer curl – hold two dumbbells at by your sides, long end facing forward. Keep your elbows tucked in as you curl the long end of the dumbbell up towards the shoulders. Straighten the arms back out.
  8. Single leg deadlift L – repeat #6 on left side.
  9. Chest press – lay back onto a bench. Hold two dumbbells with straight arms directly over the shoulders with long ends facing the to the right and left. Bend your elbows and lower them down to about the line of your bench or to the floor. Squeeze chest and straighten back out.
  10. Bench crunch – hold one dumbbell at the chest or at the forehead like a visor or lose the dumbbell and place hands behind head. Crunch up lifting shoulder blades off mat/bench and lower down. Press low back down the whole time, navel to spine.


Here are some of the modifications I offered my class.

  • Bodyweight only instead of holding dumbbells for the squats, static lunges and curtsy lunges
  • Drop to the knees for the push ups or do them on an incline with hands on the bench (if you don’t have a bench, no big deal…just work off the floor)
  • Alternate arms on the overhead shoulder press and bicep curls if you feel too fatigued to reduce intensity
  • Stand up and roll the shoulders on the bent over row and the tricep kickbacks when you need relief and then resume work

Happy lifting! As always, I’d love to hear your feedback if you try the workout.

Do you prefer lifting upper or lower body?


{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Jenny @ growingfromthegroundup March 23, 2017, 4:29 pm

    Whew, looks like a great workout! Can’t wait to try it. Sullie and Zoey are absolutely the cutest. They make me want to get a golden. Glad Zoey is feeling better!

    • Jen March 23, 2017, 7:48 pm

      Let me know what you think if you do! And goldens are the best! 🙂

  • Molly March 24, 2017, 8:28 am

    I looooove dilworth animal hospital! We see dr. Whitlark but have seen yours as well before too. They are so great there! So glad that your dog is doing better… we’ve been stuck with an emergency bill from there too and it’s no fun but totally worth it!

  • Christin Bland April 3, 2017, 8:20 am

    Looks like a great workout!! I’m doing this at the gym tonight.

    Probably stupid question: with the static lunge, do you step back up to standing each time, 84 stay in the lunge position and lift and lower?

    Thanks, Jen!!

    • Christin Bland April 3, 2017, 8:21 am

      That was supposed to say “or lift and lower” 😉

  • Abbie April 11, 2017, 10:44 am

    Thanks for sharing this workout! I pinned it on Pinterest, and did it while travelling. Great hotel workout too!

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