Build Functional Strength All Over With This Dumbbell-Only Session

Squat push press
(Image credit: Unknown)

Using the best dumbbells rather than barbells or machines allows you to address any weaknesses or inequalities in your body. This dumbbell workout includes plenty of twisting movements that will help strengthen your core, back and abs, as well as targeting your arms, legs and shoulders. Move slowly and powerfully through this workout to build functional strength and power.

1 Split overhead triceps extension

Split your stance, putting one foot in front of the other and hold a dumbbell straight up above your head. Bring the dumbbell down behind your shoulder, keeping your abs braced and then press up. Repeat on the other side.

2 Squat push press

Hold the dumbbells at ear-level with both hands directly above your elbows. Squat down and push up gently, raising the dumbbells above your head.

3 Punch-ups


(Image credit: Future)

Hold a dumbbell in each hand and drop your arms to either side of your body. With one arm, perform an uppercut, using your hips to pivot you around as you punch. Repeat on the other side.

4 Lateral lunge with twist

Lateral lunge with twist

(Image credit: Future)

Hold a dumbbell with both hands, step out to the side with your toes facing forwards and keep your body in an upright position. Rotate your torso in the direction of your lunging leg, then repeat on the other side.

5 Side split deadlift

Side split deadlift

(Image credit: Future)

Take a step forwards and support your body weight with one leg. Push forwards with your back leg and tip forwards from the hips. Allow the weights to come down and keep your back straight. Move back up to the starting position.

6 Rotating squat press

Hold two dumbbells at ear level with your palms facing forwards. Squat down, then push up and rotate and press one dumbbell across your body. Return to the start position and repeat on the other side.   

7 One leg deadlift to overhead raise

Stand on one leg with a dumbbell in the opposite hand. Tip forwards from the hips, bring the dumbbell down as far as is comfortable, then bring it overhead. Repeat on the other side.

Nick Hutchings worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Nick worked as digital editor from 2008 to 2011, head of content until 2014, and finally editor-in-chief until 2015.