What exercises can you do with dumbbells?

Are you ready to harness the versatility of dumbbells and take your workout to the next level? Whether you're a fitness novice or a seasoned enthusiast, this guide will inspire you with all the simple but effective exercises you can do with dumbbells and dumbbell sets. We'll cover upper, lower and core exercises for a well-rounded fitness experience that drives you towards your goals.

Dumbbell exercise #1 - Dumbbell bicep curl

This exercise primarily targets the biceps, helping to sculpt and strengthen the front of your arms. Dumbbells allow for a full range of motion, engaging stabilising muscles and ensuring balanced development. 

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing forward.
  • Keep your elbows close to your body and curl the dumbbells towards your shoulders.
  • Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position, ensuring controlled movements.

Dumbbell exercise #2 - Dumbbell lunges

Lunges engage the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes, providing a comprehensive lower body workout. Dumbbells add resistance, intensifying the exercise and promoting muscle development.

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand, standing with feet together.
  • Take a step forward with one foot, lowering your body until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Push off the front foot and return to the starting position. Alternate legs for each repetition.

Dumbbell exercise #3 - Dumbbell renegade rows 

Renegade rows work the back, shoulders and core, providing a full-body challenge. Incorporating dumbbells requires stability, engaging core muscles throughout the movement. 

  • Start in a plank position with a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Row one dumbbell to your hip while balancing on the other arm.
  • Return the dumbbell to the ground and alternate sides for each repetition

Dumbbell exercise #4 - Dumbbell shoulder press 

This exercise enhances shoulder stability and definition, and builds overall upper body strength. Dumbbells allow for a natural range of motion, engaging stabilising muscles for a more effective workout. 

  • Sit or stand with a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height, palms facing forward.
  • Press the dumbbells overhead, extending your arms fully.
  • Lower the dumbbells back to shoulder height with control.

Dumbbell exercise #5 - Dumbbell tricep kickbacks 

Tricep kickbacks isolate and strengthen the triceps, contributing to toned and sculpted arms. Dumbbells enable a unilateral workout, ensuring each arm works independently for balanced development.

  • Bend at the hips, keeping your back straight, with a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Extend your arms straight behind you, engaging your triceps.
  • Return to the starting position with controlled movements.

Dumbbell exercise #6 - Dumbbell goblet squats 

Goblet squats engage the quads, hamstrings, glutes and core, improving lower body strength, stability and flexibility. The goblet squat with dumbbells adds resistance, making the exercise more challenging and effective. 

  • Hold a dumbbell vertically close to your chest, with both hands supporting the weight.
  • Lower your body into a squat position, keeping your back straight and chest lifted.
  • Push through your heels to return to the starting position.

Dumbbell exercise #7 - Dumbbell lateral raises 

Lateral raises primarily target the lateral deltoids, contributing to broader shoulder definition. Dumbbells allow for a natural range of motion, with appropriate weight selection allowing for varying levels of resistance. 

  • Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, arms by your sides, palms facing your body.
  • Raise your arms straight out to the sides until they are at shoulder height.
  • Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position with control.

Dumbbell exercise #8 – Dumbbell Russian twists  

This exercise helps improve rotational strength and stability in the whole core. It also targets the oblique muscles, contributing to a well-defined waistline. The use of a dumbbell further challenges the stabilising muscles and enhances overall core strength. 

  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat.
  • Lean back slightly, maintaining a straight back at about a 45-degree angle to the floor.
  • Hold a dumbbell with both hands close to your chest, elbows slightly bent.
  • Lift your feet a few inches off the ground, balancing on your sit bones.
  • Twist your torso to the right, bringing the dumbbell towards the floor beside your hip.
  • Return to the centre and then twist to the left, lowering the dumbbell towards the opposite hip.
  • Continue alternating sides in a controlled, twisting motion.

Dumbbell exercise #9 – Dumbbell chest press  

Dumbbell chest presses are great for targeting the pectoral muscles, and also engage the shoulders and triceps.

  • Lie on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended above your chest.
  • Inhale and lower the dumbbells to the sides of your chest, elbows at a 90-degree angle.
  • Pause, then exhale and press the dumbbells back up to the starting position.

Where can I do my dumbbell exercises? 

Dumbbell exercises can be seamlessly incorporated into any fitness routine, their portability and versatility making them a perfect choice whether you’re at home, in a studio, outdoors, or working out in a commercial gym.

What equipment do I need to do dumbbell exercises?

The equipment you need will depend on your environment, who’s using the dumbbells, how they’ll be used, and how often. For example, a commercial gym will need a wide range of dumbbell sets spanning different weights, while a home exerciser might find a set of adjustable dumbbells most convenient.

Whatever your needs, Physical can meet them. Here are just a few of our most popular products right now: 

Neo Hex Dumbbells

With their colour-coding for weight selection, sweat-resistant finish for great grip and anti-roll design, these are perfect for studio environments and home gyms.


If you’re doing exercises like a dumbbell chest press, you’ll need a bench. Reebok’s is best-in-class.


Exercise mat

Floor-based exercises, such as the Russian twist, are more comfortable on a mat. We have the best choice you’ll find anywhere!

We hope this comprehensive guide has inspired you to incorporate dumbbell exercises into your fitness routine. Whether you're aiming for stronger arms, a toned lower body or a resilient core, dumbbells offer endless possibilities. If you have any questions or need assistance choosing the right equipment, reach out to our experts at Physical today!