Full-Body Dumbbell Workout: The Perfect Home Workout in 20 Minutes

20-minute Full-body dumbbell workout

This dumbbell workout is a go-to full-body workout for any fitness level. You can do it at home or in the gym. It involves all major muscle groups and movement patterns (squatting, pushing, pulling…).

About this 20-Minute full-body dumbbell workout:

  • 5 rounds (beginners can do less)
  • 5 exercises; 10 reps per exercise
  • Rest 1 minute between sets; optionally, add rest between exercises if you need it
  • Weight of the dumbbells can be adjusted based on your fitness level or muscle group. You might need to load leg exercises with more weight than upper body exercises to feel your muscles working.

No dumbbells at home…?

…then it’s time to get creative! Look around your home and think about what you could use instead of dumbbells. The important thing is that you can grip them well and that they won’t break.

  • Water bottles filled with water, sand, flour, etc. are a great substitute for dumbbells.
  • Do you have a bottle crate of water, juice, or beer at home? By changing the number of bottles in the crate, you can vary the weight to suit your training needs. 
  • A bucket full of water bottles or books also works as a dumbbell substitute. If you hang a full bucket off either end of a pole (e.g. broom or mop), you’ve got a barbell
  • Take a look at your bookcase: heavy reading is good for the mind and body! 
  • Bricks, small sandbags, or other building material can be a great alternative to dumbbells, too.


Don’t overdo it with the amount of weight and don’t hurt yourself with your homemade dumbbells. Full water bottles are the best option for the exercises shown below.

Full-body dumbbell workout: 5 best exercises

Even if your goal is to do 10 repetitions per exercise, make sure you can do them correctly. If you find yourself struggling to maintain the form, feel free to do fewer repetitions or reduce the weight.

1. Goblet Squat

The Goblet Squat got its name because when it’s done with one big dumbbell, it looks like you are holding a goblet. It’s a good way to start squatting — holding a dumbbell in front of your chest reminds you to keep you upper body straight and shoulders open. You can do this exercise with one or two dumbbells, as you like.

Watch your form:

  • Keep the dumbbell close to your body
  • If you start rounding your back or your shoulders towards the dumbbell, reduce the weight or take a break
  • Sit back as you squat and push from your heels to get back up
  • Knees track over toes, bending and flexing in line with your feet

You can use dumbbells with some of these other squat variations, too!

2. Shoulder Press

This dumbbell exercise can be done standing or sitting down. If you are a beginner, the seated version will offer more support and let you focus while building strength and learning proper form. However, if you are confident doing the standing version, give it a try — it will work your core even more!

Watch your form:

  • Keep your elbows at 90 degrees
  • Avoid leaning backwards excessively when lifting the weight

3. Dumbbell Row

All types of rows are always a good choice to pair with pushing exercises such as Push-ups and Chest Press (see below). You can do this dumbbell exercise with one arm at a time if you prefer. Use your other arm to brace yourself on something.

Watch your form:

  • Keep your back neutral (a slight arch is normal, but rounding is not)
  • Keep your elbows at 90 degrees and your arms close to your body
  • As you row, imagine that you are trying to put the weight into your back pocket
  • Engage your core — don’t let your belly pull you towards the floor

4. Stiff Legged Deadlift

The Stiff Legged Deadlift gets its name from the fact that your legs are almost stiff (straight) as you perform this exercise. In a regular Deadlift the knees bend much more. If you struggle to bend forward without rounding your back, work on your hamstring flexibility. Feel free to substitute this exercise with a regular dumbbell deadlift.

Watch your form:

  • Keep your abs and back muscles engaged
  • A neutral arch in your back is fine, but rounding your back in the other direction (flexing the spine) is not
  • Initiate the movement by pushing your hips back
  • Bend your knees as much as you need in order to avoid rounding your back (hamstring flexibility can be a limiting factor)

5. Chest Press

This dumbbell exercise is usually performed on a bench. However, if you can’t access a bench, you can do it on a mat on the floor.

Watch your form:

  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together
  • Your palms should be facing down towards your feet
  • Head, shoulder blades, and glutes need to be in contact with the bench throughout the whole movement

For more chest exercises check out these 10 Push-up variations for all fitness levels.

20-minute REAL-TIME Full-body dumbbell workout video

Watch the full dumbbell workout video and exercise along with it:

Remember, you can always take a break to check your form or rest. It’s better to do less with good form than to crank out tons of reps with poor form.

Need more home workout ideas?

Check out these home bodyweight workouts for different muscle groups!


Hana Medvesek With a background in physical therapy, Hana strongly believes that movement is medicine. She likes to run, lift weights, and try out simple, healthy recipes. View all posts by Hana Medvesek