Full Body Strength Workout with Dumbbells

There are a wide array of beliefs and definitions when it comes to health and physical fitness. While some people believe in flexibility, others are more concerned about endurance. Despite this, strength remains a key component in virtually any metric for measuring physical fitness.

The ability to repeatedly execute everyday actions at optimal performance levels relies significantly on your level of physical strength and muscular endurance and is one of the most easily noticeable indicators of physical health.

Full-body workouts are a fast and efficient means of strength-building and improving your physique. This is because they involve a range of functional movements which helps you recruit a larger number of muscle groups. You can also employ the use of various equipment for greater muscle engagement, especially a versatile and ubiquitous item like a dumbbell. 

What Is a Full Body Workout?

This is an exercise plan that activates all the major muscle groups in a workout single session. The major muscle groups include the chest, shoulders, back, legs and arms.

Unlike split workout plans, which involve exercising one muscle group per session, full-body workouts enable you to maximize time by engaging those major muscles simultaneously. Full-body workouts are also much more effective for building your physical health because they mimic functional motions. 

Functional motions are simply movements which make up most of the physical activities which a normal person performs in a day. There are six core functional movements; pushing, squatting, hinging, lunging, pulling and carrying. Virtually every significant physical action we perform in a day involves some combination of these core movements.

Advantages of Full Body Workouts

  • They’re great for people with limited time. Even though split body workouts are ideal for muscle growth, most people (except professional bodybuilders or fitness enthusiasts) are unable to maintain the rigid scheduling split body workouts entail. Full body workouts enable you to exercise important areas simultaneously, for 30-60 minutes a day. Even if you missed a day in a 3-day full body workout schedule, you would have at least worked out all your muscle groups more than once. 
  • Full-body workouts involve functional movements. Full-body workouts involve exercises that replicate activities of daily living such as squats, reaching, stepping and lifting. Building muscle and endurance while performing these actions in exercise help us optimize your performance in daily life, prevent issues like muscle strain and lower back injury, increase your flexibility, and are also great for your posture.
  • It’s safer because it prevents muscle strain. A muscle strain may occur during workouts when a particular joint is put under intense or sudden stress. When other muscle groups are not properly trained, they become weak causing imbalance in the body. Full-body workouts help build multiple groups of muscles to provide better control to the body. The increase in strength and control helps reduce your risk of injury.

Principles Guiding a Full Body Workout

Here are a few general principles you can follow to make sure you get the very best out of your full-body workout.

Compound Exercises Are the Best

These are exercises that incorporate different major muscle groups. They provide more benefits than isolated exercises as they are less time-consuming and grant other benefits besides strengthening e.g. muscle coordination, balance in muscle gain,  more cardiovascular benefits, increase in flexibility, burning off more calories, etc.

Start With an Effective Primary Lift

Begin your session with a primary lift. Your primary lift is your main exercise which involves the most muscle recruitment and typically involves the heaviest weights. These exercises should be done first as they are the most tasking and typically involve large muscles like your pectorals, latissimus, deltoid, quads, glutes and core. They include deadlifts, goblet squats, dumbbell squats and even bench presses.

Pair This With an Effective Counter Exercise

The point of a counteractive exercise is to exercise a different muscle group or the same muscle group differently than your primary lift exercise. These usually include core-strengthening exercises or plyometric exercises (short, explosive bursts of activity). For example, a dumbbell deadlift is a strengthening exercise, therefore it should be paired with an explosive exercise like lunges.

Focus on the Core Muscle Groups

These include muscles of the chest, shoulders, arms, back, thighs, core and calves. To ensure they are covered, exercises involving the upper body, lower body and core should be included.

Finish Your Workout With Cardio

Every full-body workout should end with a bit of high-intensity cardio exercise to task your heart. The tail end of the session should burn you out and help you achieve your optimal heart rate before the end of the session. This includes cardio workouts such as burpees, running sprints or high-intensity cycling are great ways of achieving this. 

6 Effective Full-Body Workouts

Here are six amazing full-body workouts which you can perform with dumbbells.

1. Goblet Squat – 3 Sets, 40 Seconds Each

This is a great primary lift because it involves several muscle groups and can be done with progressively heavier weights.

  • Stand with your legs apart, slightly greater than shoulder length, toes slightly pointed outwards.
  • Hold a dumbbell to chest level, gripping the dumbbell on both sides like you were holding a goblet
  • Bend your elbows to bring the dumbbell to meet the center of your chest.
  • Then bend your knees and lower yourself down to a squat with your back straight, core engaged and your face looking straight forward.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat this exercise for 3 sets of 40 seconds each.
Full Body Strength Workout With Dumbbells - Goblet Squat

2. Stiff Leg Deadlift – 3 Sets, 40 Seconds Each

This is a great workout for your lower body and back.

  • Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart with arms hanging down in front of you.
  • Hold both dumbbells in an overhand grip i.e. with your palms facing you.
  • Bend your knees slightly and keep them locked in position.
  • Bend forward gradually with your back straight, slowly lowering dumbbells downwards till you feel a stretch at your hamstring or glutes.
  • Then slowly rise upwards to the starting position.
  • Repeat this exercise for 3 sets of 40 seconds each.
Full Body Strength Workout With Dumbbells - Stiff Leg Deadlift

3. Walking Lunges – 3 Sets, 40 Seconds Each

This adds some variety to the workout and exercises both your arms and legs.

  • Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Your dumbbells should be held in both hands.
  • Take a step forward with your right foot and bend your right knee while lowering your left knee behind you towards the floor.
  • While doing this swing your arms with each step while flexing your elbows to 90 degrees.
  • Then push off with your right foot and return your left leg to the starting position.
  • Maintain a straight back, with your chin up and eyes looking forward throughout the exercise.
  • Repeat this exercise for 3 sets of 40 seconds each while alternating between your left and right legs.
Full Body Strength Workout With Dumbbells - Walking Lunges
Full body Workout with dumbbells

4. Double Pulse Sumo – 3 Sets, 40 Seconds Each

This is a great dynamic exercise that engages your key muscle group uniquely.

  • Stand with legs slightly greater than shoulder width apart.
  • Grip the dumbbell in front of you.
  • Lower yourself into a squat with your back straight (like a Sumo wrestler).
  • Bounce up twice as if to stand, tapping dumbbells on the floor with each bounce.
  • Then return to the standing position while tightening the gluteal muscles.
  • Repeat this exercise for 3 sets of 40 seconds each. 
Full Body Strength Workout With Dumbbells - Double Sumo pulses

5. Curl & Press – 3 Sets, 40 Seconds Each

This exercise is great for building muscle mass in your arms and shoulders.

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Hold your dumbbells at each side with neutral grips i.e. palms facing your sides.
  • Looking straight ahead with your elbows in close contact with your sides, slowly bend your elbows bringing dumbbells to your shoulders.
  • Then press upwards, lifting dumbbells upwards parallel or above your ears.
  • Bring arms down into a flexed elbow position and slowly extend elbows to bring dumbbells back to the sides.

Repeat this exercise for 3 sets of 40 seconds each.

Full Body Strength Workout With Dumbbells - Curl and Press

6. Front and Side Raise – 3 Sets, 40 Seconds Each

This is a great workout for your shoulders and arms as well.

  • Stand with feet slightly apart.
  • Hold the dumbbells in an overhand hand grip.
  • Slightly bend your elbows and lift the dumbbells to shoulder level in front of you.
  • Then move them outwards while maintaining that same level. Then bring your arms back down.
  • Repeat this exercise for 3 sets of 40 seconds each.
Full Body Strength Workout With Dumbbells - Front and Side Raise


  • How do I create the best full-body workout?

This can get a little complicated especially when you are going about it alone or without a professional trainer. However, just remember to stick to the basics. Consider the major movement patterns and each key muscle group. Try to incorporate an exercise for each of them. An example would be, exercises that involve; squats, hip-hinge, lunges, vertical pulling and pushing and horizontal pulling and pushing. 

  • How do I improve my workouts?

Workouts may seem to get easier as our bodies begin to condition. Some easy tips to make it a little more challenging are progressive overload and time-under-tension switch-up. With progressive overload, we add more intensity to the exercise by increasing repetitions or weight. With time-under-tension, we carry out the exercises under shorter time constraints, forcing our bodies to push through them at faster rates.

  • Are full-body workouts great for weight loss?

Absolutely, full-body workouts are perfect for weight loss because they recruit a large number of major muscles which in turn consume more calories than focusing on a single muscle group. To increase the effectiveness of your full-body workout you can pair it with a cardio exercise which is great for your cardiovascular health and weight loss.

Full body Workout with dumbbells


Full-body workouts are highly effective means of strength, endurance and cardio training. They can be tailored to fit each individual’s goals, be it weight loss or muscle gain. These exercises can be performed across different fitness levels, from beginners to athletes with minimal time demand. Remember to always keep the core principles in your mind; compound exercises, major muscle groups and mimic functional movements.

Full body Strength Workout with Dumbbells

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