The 15-minute Dumbbell Workout for Busy Guys

The 15-minute Dumbbell Workout for Busy Guys

Fortunately, you don’t need to leave the house. Find a small space in the basement, home office, or guest room for your workout. Get a set of dumbbells, preferably a compact set of adjustable dumbbells with the versatility of an entire rack of iron. Failing that, get a pair that’s comfortably challenging for a number of lifts—whether 25-pounders, 40s, or something in between. Err on the side of going lighter, especially if you haven’t trained heavy in some time.

The 15-minute Dumbbell Workout: How to Do It

We’ve designed this workout by alternating lower-body and upper-body movements, or pushing and pulling exercises, so there’s no need for rest. That way you can make the most of your time.

  • Perform these six exercises as a circuit workout. Do the assigned reps of each exercise, then move to the next exercise. Once you’ve finished every exercise, that’s one round of the circuit.
  • Do two rounds of the circuit total, resting only between each round.
  • If you have more time, you can do more rounds of the circuit.

Do this workout first thing in the morning and you’ll start to feel a sense of accomplishment before your chaotic day ensues.

1. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

Why it works: RDLs are great for building the proper activation patterns in your hamstrings and glutes while also strengthening your back. Since you likely spend much of your day sitting in the car and at a desk, RDLs help activate these areas at the start of the workout.

How to do it: Start with a light set of dumbbells. Form is especially key to getting full benefit from the RDL. Don’t think of the exercise as bending forward but rather as sitting back with your torso moving forward instead of staying upright.

Prescription: 10 reps

2. Dumbbell Biceps Curl

Why it works: It’s a classic, simple, yet challenging way to build your biceps. Besides, you were probably going to do these anyway.

How to do it: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and biceps at your sides. Keeping your elbows still, lift the dumbbells to your shoulders as you rotate your palms to the ceiling. Keep your back still and abs tight. Return to starting position.

Prescription: 10 reps

3. Upright Row

Why it works: It’s a familiar yet effective compound movement that strengthens and stabilizes the shoulders and upper back while also challenging the triceps.

How to do it: Use dumbbells instead of a barbell, as shown. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells palms-down in front of your body. While keeping your shoulder blades back and your chest up, raise the dumbbells vertically, lifting elbows to the ceiling. Return to starting position.

Prescription: 10 reps

4. Dumbbell Split Squat

Why it works: Basically a lunge variation, the Bulgarian split squat works your quads, glutes, and hips like a conventional squat, but also further challenges your balance.

How to do it: Step out into a lunge, with the dumbbells at arm’s length at your sides. Lower your hips by squatting back and down. Without letting your back knee touch the floor, drive your weight back up with the front leg.

Prescription: 10 reps per side

5. Renegade Row

Why it works: This straightforward but surprisingly challenging move hits the biceps, back, shoulders, and triceps.

How to do it: Start in the top position of a pushup with your hands on dumbbells set shoulder-width apart. Row one dumbbell toward the side of your body while balancing on the opposite hand and feet. Pause for one second at the top and return the weight slowly to the start position. Repeat on the other side. Pro tip: Try to keep your torso as stable as possible.

Prescription: 10 reps per side

6. Lateral Lunge With Dumbbells

Why it works: Lateral mobility is one of the first casualties of a life of sitting. This move helps you open up the hips and regain lateral movement.

How to do it: Stand holding dumbbells on your shoulders with elbows up. Step to one side and squat back and down with the stepping leg, keeping the other leg straight. Return to starting position by pushing up with the bent leg. Switch sides and repeat movement.

Prescription: 10 reps per side