Whether your gym is closed or a busy schedule has left you unable to go through your normal workout plan, it can be tough to come up with the motivation to exercise at home with limited equipment.
For example, you may have that one pair of light dumbbells that are collecting dust in your closet or garage. Yeah, you could do something with those for a pump, but it’s not like you can get a serious workout with those, right?!
They may not be heavy weights, but you can make the most of what you do have and push yourself through a workout that is more challenging than you think. As a matter of fact, this six-week program can help you achieve measurable and noticeable results!
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3 Benefits of Using Lighter Dumbbells
No, the light dumbbells won’t feel like a challenge in the beginning, but if you train correctly, those dumbbells will make you work harder than you expect. There are a few benefits to taking on a program like this.
1. Unilateral Training
You can focus on one side of your body at a time, and the other side can’t assist. So if you find yourself being weaker on one side than the other, start with that side on all unilateral exercises so you can help bring it up and balance out your strength.
2. Less Toll on the Joints
Your muscles will feel challenged as you go through this series of training sessions, but since the weight won’t be very heavy, your joints and tendons won’t feel nearly as much impact. So, this could serve as a recovery program even though you’re still training.
3. Muscular Endurance
Performing higher reps make your muscles work longer than you’re accustomed to, and that translates into a higher rate of endurance. You'll also burn a few extra calories as well.
About the Program
This program will have four training days in your week. They are push, pull, legs and abs, and full-body. You can perform this routine in any way that your schedule allows, but this recommended split of two days on, one day off could be a solid option to consider.
The exercises here should be simple to follow for anyone that is familiar with training. If you’re new to the iron game, then check out the exercise section here on M&S for easy to follow instructions on how to perform these exercises effectively.
- Day 1 – Pull
- Day 2 – Legs and Abs
- Day 3 – Rest
- Day 4 – Push
- Day 5 – Full-Body
- Day 6 – Rest
- Day 7 – Rest
Keep in mind that this workout is based only on using one pair of dumbbells and your bodyweight. So there is no rack or bench, no bands, and no other options like a pull-up bar or dip station. If you have those at your disposal, by all means, add other movements into this or make substitutions.
The focus here is going to be on the upper back (including the rear delts), biceps, and traps. Every dumbbell exercise is to be performed unilaterally. The reason why is because while one side is resting, the other is working. This will challenge your cardiovascular ability and minimize the overall training time. For unilateral exercises, the reps listed are the reps per side.
So let’s start with the first exercise, the one arm row, as an example. You can start with the side you feel needs help, and perform your first set. As soon as you finish, switch sides and perform the same number of reps. Your first side isn’t working after you switch, so that is your rest time for that side. Upon completion, switch back to the side you started with and immediately begin set number two. Continue following this training style with every unilateral exercise you do in this program.
As for the bodyweight movements, you get 30 seconds of rest in between. Use this time wisely to rest, sip your water or Intra-workout drink, and get back to work.
Pull Day Workout
|One Arm Row||5||30, 25, 20, 15, 10|
|Bent-Over Rear Lateral Raise||3||30, 20, 10|
|One Arm Upright Row||3||30, 20, 10|
|Seated Dumbbell Curl||3||20, 20, 20|
|Hammer Curl||3||20, 20, 20|
|Single Arm Dumbbell Shrug||3||30, 30, 30|
Legs and Abs
The lower body and core can withstand a little more intensity, so this day is going to be a little more serious. That’s why it’s recommended that you take a day off after this one. If you need to take a breather after your sets here, you can rest for around a minute, but don’t waste time on your phone or sitting around. Make the time you commit to training count. The final exercise is for your lower back and is more of a stretch or isometric movement, but it will be of service after you do a workout like this.
Legs and Abs Workout
|Split Squat||3||30, 20, 10|
|Single Stiff-Leg Deadlift||3||30, 20, 10|
|Walking Lunge||3||30, 20, 10|
|Seated Calf Raise||3||30, 30, 30|
|Weighted Crunch||3||20, 20, 20|
Now we shift our focus to the chest, shoulders, and triceps. If you don’t have a bench for the exercises you would normally do on one, use your floor. The range of motion won’t be as profound, but it can still be effective for the primary muscles being targeted.
Remember to follow the same principle for this workout as you did for your pull session. One side rests while the other works. If you are on a time crunch and must be done quickly, then go ahead and perform both sides simultaneously with 30 seconds rest in between sets.
Push Day Workout
|Floor Dumbbell Press||5||30, 25, 20, 15, 10|
|Floor Dumbbell Fly||3||30, 20, 10|
|Lateral Raise||3||30, 20, 10|
|One Arm Overhead Extension||3||20, 20, 20|
|One Arm Kickback||3||20, 20, 20|
|Close Grip Push Up||3||20, 20, 20|
This isn’t only a workout to train the entire body – it’s a cardio workout as well. Your goal is to get your heart rate up, sweat, and feel like you did serious work.
Instead of performing a rep range target, you will perform as many reps as possible (AMRAP) within a time limit. The amount of time you work is the amount of time you rest when you finish. So if your set calls for 60 seconds of exercise, rest for 60 seconds when you finish. 30 seconds of work calls for a 30-second break.
You will start with the lower body and work your way up. There is no more unilateral work here either. Work both sides at the same time. Beginners should complete one cycle of this workout to start with. If you consider yourself an intermediate trainer, then go for two rounds. Longtime training veterans could push themselves to do three if they feel the need.
|Dumbbell Standing Calf Raise||1||60 seconds||60 seconds|
|Stiff-Leg Deadlift||1||30 seconds||30 seconds|
|Bodyweight Squat Jumps||1||60 seconds||60 seconds|
|Lying Leg Raise||1||30 seconds||30 seconds|
|Plank||1||60 seconds||60 seconds|
|Dumbbell Pullover||1||30 seconds||30 seconds|
|Push Up||1||60 seconds||60 seconds|
|Arnold Press||1||30 seconds||30 seconds|
|Dumbbell Curl||1||60 seconds||60 seconds|
How to Progress Further
If you finish this program and need a way to challenge yourself further, then you have a few options to consider.
Slower Rep Speed - Instead of performing the reps as you normally would, concentrate on longer negatives and contractions at the top. This could cause your muscles to fatigue faster.
Less Rest – Try to cut down the rest time on some exercises. If you have been resting for one minute, shoot for 45-second breaks. You may be surprised how much a quarter of a minute could make a difference.
Flex in Between Sets – When you finish a set, take a few seconds to contract and flex that muscle group. Perform a bodybuilding pose and squeeze the muscles as hard as you can before taking your break.
You won’t always have optimum preferences when it comes to training, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the best out of your available options. Even with a pair of light dumbbells and your bodyweight, you can make gains and see improvements. A workout like this can serve its purpose until you are able to resume your normal training life.