Try This Dumbbell Home Workout From Celebrity Trainer Jessie Pavelka Today

Man and woman exercise with dumbbells at home
(Image credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus)

You can keep things simple and still get a very effective session, as this home workout from personal trainer and TV star Jessie Pavelka shows. It involves doing up to four rounds of five dumbbell exercises and hits pretty much every major muscle in the body.

You’ll need a set of dumbbells for the workout, and adjustable dumbbells are ideal since this is a full-body dumbbell workout and it’s wise to adjust the weight for each exercise. You don’t want to struggle to complete any exercise with good form, but you do want to be working hard as you complete each set of repetitions. 

Adjustable dumbbells are more expensive than fixed-weight dumbbells, but are well worth the investment for most people who want to train at home because they take up less space and won’t cost anything like as much as an equivalent selection of fixed-weight pairs. You can find our recommendations in our guide to the best dumbbells

Once you’ve mastered this routine, and progressed the session using the pointers below, you may feel ready to dedicate individual sessions to different body parts. If that’s the case, try this four-sessions-a-week dumbbell workout plan.

How To Do This Workout

Complete up to four rounds of the following exercises, doing one set of each exercise in each round and following Pavelka’s instructions closely to make sure you get the most out of every rep.

To progress with the workout, begin with eight reps and 90 seconds of rest, gradually increasing the reps and/or decreasing the rest every time you do the workout until you’ve hit 12 reps and 60 seconds of rest.

Floor press

Jessie Pavelka demonstrating two positions of the floor press dumbbell exercise

(Image credit: Jessie Pavelka)

Reps 8-12 Rest 60-90sec

“This is a great exercise for building strength and muscle in your chest and triceps,” says Pavelka. “Also, because it requires a shorter range of motion than the traditional bench press, it places less stress on your shoulder joints.

“Lie on the floor holding dumbbells above you with your arms extended. Keep your knees bent and abs engaged. Slowly lower the weights over a count of three until your upper arms just tap the floor – they shouldn’t rest on the ground. Pause for a count of one, then squeeze your chest and triceps muscles and push the weights up. Squeeze at the top of the press, then lower again.”

Dumbbell lunge with biceps curl

Jessie Pavelka demonstrating two positions of the lunge with biceps curl dumbbell exercise

(Image credit: Jessie Pavelka)

Reps 8-12 each side Rest 60-90sec

“Lunges are awesome for strengthening your lower body,” says Pavelka, “and by combining a lunge with a dumbbell curl, you can target the legs, core and biceps.

“Keep your upper body straight, core engaged, shoulders relaxed and back, and chin up by focusing on a point in front of you. Step forwards with your right leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent to 90°. Ensure your right knee is directly above your ankle and your left knee doesn’t touch the floor.

“With your elbows remaining at your sides and palms facing forwards, raise your forearms, curling the dumbbells up towards your shoulders. Squeeze the muscles at the uppermost point, then slowly return the weights to your sides. Keeping the weight in the heel of your front foot, push back up to the standing position. Alternate sides with every rep.”

Dumbbell woodchop

Jessie Pavelka demonstrating two positions of the woodchop dumbbell exercise

(Image credit: Jessie Pavelka)

Reps 8-12 each side Rest 60-90sec

“This is a great functional core exercise,” says Pavelka. “Your abs and obliques work overtime as you twist and lift. Performing this exercise also recruits many stabilising muscles and therefore makes the body work harder.

“Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell with both hands in front of you and your arms straight. Rotate your torso to the left, bending at the knees and hips to bring the dumbbell down toward your left shin.

“Stand up and turn your torso to the right, rising onto your toes as you twist and lift so you end up facing the dumbbell, which should be above your right shoulder. Using your core muscles to control the movement, return to the starting position.

“Throughout the move, control your pace and avoid rushing. Complete all the reps on one side, then repeat on the other side of the body.”

Bent-over dumbbell row

Jessie Pavelka demonstrating two positions of the bent-over row exercise with dumbbells

(Image credit: Jessie Pavelka)

Reps 8-12 Rest 60-90sec

“This exercise is great for the back and shoulders,” says Pavelka. “Being a compound, functional exercise, it simulates motions we often perform throughout the day, like picking things up. It’s great for improving overall strength and also building muscle. Performing this standing gives it additional benefits because the body is recruiting many stabilising muscles, and it also engages the core.

“Stand holding dumbbells. Hinge forwards from your hips until your torso is at 45°. Pull the dumbbells towards your torso by driving your elbows behind your body while retracting your shoulder blades, until your elbows are at or just past the midline. Then, using a three-count, lower the dumbbells back to the starting position under control. Check your posture and positioning before each rep.”


Jessie Pavelka demonstrating two positions of the thruster dumbbell exercise

(Image credit: Jessie Pavelka)

Reps 8-12 Rest 60-90sec

“This is a great full-body exercise that builds strength and power in the legs and hips, and improves co-ordination, muscular endurance and balance,” says Pavelka. “The thruster is also a great way to increase core stability and can burn a load of calories in a short amount of time.

“Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, holding your dumbbells at shoulder height with your palms facing upwards. With your abs braced, shoulders back, knees behind your toes and back straight, push your hips back and down over a three-count into a squat position, until your thighs are parallel to the ground.

“Pause at the bottom for a count of one, then squeeze your glutes, extend your hips and knees to drive up and press the dumbbells overhead, squeezing your shoulder muscles at their fullest extension. Pause for a one-count, then return the dumbbells to the starting position over a three-count .”

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.