In a perfect world, we’d all have hours to workout every day and access to the finest fitness centers on the planet. Reality looks different for the vast majority of us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make the most of what we have. In fact, it’s possible to tone your muscles using only a single dumbbell and your own body weight.
Investing in a set of dumbbells allows you access to all kinds of slimming and toning exercises. And for these lean muscle moves, you’ll only need one at a time.
Please read: 7 Dumbbells Exercises You Must Do to Burn Fat Fast
Check out the Top 6 Easy Lean Muscle Moves That Only Require 1 Dumbbell:
There’s actually no equipment required at all for this leg and glute-toner. But if you do them with a dumbbell, the moves are more challenging, and you’ll get fitter faster.
Adding a dumbbell to traditional donkey kicks pushes this exercise into overdrive. Just don’t hyperextend your low back as you work your glutes.
- Start on all fours, and place a weight in the crease of your right knee.
- Keeping your right knee bent at a 90-degree angle, lift your right leg up until you feel your right glute engage. Flex your foot, and slowly pulse the foot toward the ceiling by squeezing your glute. Do not move the torso at all — the motion is just in the hip joint.
- Pulse 20 times, and switch legs to complete a set. Do three full sets.
This move requires lying on the floor with one leg bent, and one leg straight, holding a dumbbell in your hand above your chest. Without taking your eyes off the weight, you’ll prop yourself up on your elbow and straighten your left arm without taking your eye off the weight. Rotate between arms for 30-60 seconds.
Lie on the floor with your right leg bent and left leg straight, holding a dumbbell in your right hand above your chest. Without taking your eyes off the weight or bending your right arm, prop yourself up on your left elbow. Now straighten your left arm. Reverse to return to the starting position. When your 30 seconds are up, rest 30 seconds and repeat on your opposite side.
Hold a dumbbell vertically in front of your chest, cupping the top end with both hands. (Imagine that it’s a heavy goblet.) Brace your abs and lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees; your elbows should brush the inside of them. Pause, and then push yourself back up to the starting position.
Must see: The Best Full Body Dumbbell Workout
These can be performed using only one dumbbell, targeting each tricep to the fullest. Grab a flat bench or something similar, position yourself on the left side with your right knee and right hand resting on it, pick up the dumbbell with your left hand, tuck your left upper arm close to your torso and bend at the elbow, and move the dumbbell behind you until your arm is fully extended. Repeat 10-15 times, then switch sides.
See detailed below:
- Set up for the tricep kickback by grabbing a flat bench and sitting a dumbbell on the left hand side at one end.
- Position yourself on the left side of the bench with your right knee and right hand resting on the bench.
- Using a neutral grip, pick up the dumbbell with your left hand. Keep your back straight and look forward.
- Tuck your left upper arm close to your torso and bend at the elbow, forming a 90 degree angle with your upper arm and forearm. This is the starting position.
- Moving only at the elbow, raise the dumbbell behind you until your arm is fully extended.
- Pause, and then lower the dumbbell back to the starting position.
- Repeat this movement for desired reps and then repeat using your right arm.
In a staggered stance with your left foot forward and right foot back, grab the kettlebell or weight in your right hand and lightly rest your left forearm on your left thigh. Try to keep this left forearm light on the leg as you perform the one-arm row with your right hand. Keep your hips and shoulders square to the ground the entire time. Don’t open up your body or rotate your shoulders as you row. The idea is to use your core to stabilize your torso and “fight” rotation as you row. Complete this exercise on both arms.
The Turkish Get-Up is a full-body exercise that challenges your endurance, mobility and core strength—all with a single dumbbell.
To perform a Turkish Get-Up:
- Lie on your back, bend your right leg at the knee and keep your left leg straight.
- Hold a dumbbell in your right hand above your chest and leave your left arm on the floor.
- Keeping your eyes on the weight, use your core to prop yourself up to a sitting position and push off the floor with your left elbow.
- Slide your left arm out so you can push off your palm and bridge your hips as high as possible while keeping your eyes on the weight. You should have three points of contact—your left hand and both feet. When you’re high enough, pull your left foot underneath and your left hand off the floor so that you’re kneeling.
- You should now be in a kneeling position with your left knee on the floor and your right arm held out straight above you. Your eyes should still be focused on the weight.
- From there, push yourself off your front and back feet to rise up to a standing position. Think of it like doing a Split-Squat.
- Follow the movements in reverse to return to the starting position.
- Sets/Reps: 3×6 each side.
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