Full-Body Dumbbell Workout | Build Muscle, Make Gains

If you’re in need of a full body workout but are limited by the exercise equipment at your disposal, dumbbells are arguably the best piece of kit to have in your arsenal.

Indeed, if tasked with deciding on one piece of gym equipment to take to a desert island, dumbbells would be your answer for an all over body workout, and also the most easily transported, should a rescue boat arrive.

The Benefits Of Full-Body Workouts

For anyone after a new exercise regimen, one that works all muscle groups in one session has many advantages. Is there a necessity to full body workouts, or is it just practical in terms of time in the gym?

Using a limited amount of gym time as efficiently as possible is just one of the pluses. For weightlifters and anyone after resistance, strengthening, toning or muscle building workouts, you can effectively reach your goals with a minimum of three overall workouts every week wherein you work all muscle groups in one session, as opposed to isolating muscle groups as pro bodybuilders do.

If isolating one muscle at a time as part of a broader weekly workout plan, if you should miss one session your plan may go to pot. A full body workout session gives you the peace of mind that you have strengthened all muscles in one go, leaving no stone unturned.

gym wear

Burn Calories

Further to this, full-body workouts mean that you burn more calories. This is because you will be hitting more muscle fibres, which will require more energy and use up more of the calories you have consumed.

It also means that you will strengthen more of the smaller, stabilising muscles used when balancing. Isolating muscles, especially via seated exercises may neglect these auxiliary muscles.

Dumbbell Versatility

One of the many virtues of dumbbells in comparison to barbells and gym machines is how versatile they are.

Dumbbells allow a broad range of movement, which can be particularly useful in ensuring you achieve an even development. With the restrictive range of movement offered by gym machinery, you may not distribute the resistance between both arms/ pecs/ delts, depending on the exercise, especially if you have one stronger arm. This is more common than you might think. The same could be said for barbells. Though they allow a more free range of movement, you are still restricted in comparison to dumbbells.

The Workout

We’ve highlighted some exercises, working from shoulders down to your toes that will ensure you work all muscle groups during one session.

Pick one or two from each area, but a minimum of one from each. As for how many sets and lifts you should do, that depends on your hurry. Our recommendation: drop sets or supersets make the most of both reps and weight and achieve muscle failure that will see results after each session.

How do these work? Select a heavier weight that is close to the maximum you’re able to lift. Go for 5 reps of this and quickly switch to a light weight that you can do 15 reps of. Repeat this cycle 3-5 times for each exercise.



Standing shoulder press
Seated shoulder press
Lateral raise
Front raise


Dumbbell bench press
Incline or declining dumbbell bench press
Bench fly


Overhead extension
Close grip press


Bicep curl
Palm down curl


Seated twist, holding dumbbell in both hands
Weighted crunch; straight arm and leg raise while holding dumbbell


Weighted lunges

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye has a MSc in Sport Physiology and Nutrition, and puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. She enjoys a pun, and in her spare time loves dog walking and eating out.