This 6-Minute Upper Body Workout Uses Dumbbells in Ways You’d Never Expect

Each month, a new trainer takes us through four of the best workouts they have in their back pocket. Follow along weekly for new ways to sweat it out with us. See All

Welcome to Trainer of the Month Club, our brand-new fitness series, where we tap the coolest most in-the-know fitness leaders to create a month-long fitness challenge. On Mondays, we have our “sweat drops” where you’ll get access to the week’s workout that you can follow along at home. In June, Meg Takacs is bringing you her strength-building series. Grab a set of dumbbells.

I have had a set of five pound weights sitting under my bed for the last eight months, and have used them approximately once (...the day after Harley Pasternak convinced me to buy them). I love a good at-home bodyweight workout, but have frankly never found one that makes adding dumbbells feel at all exciting... they all just seem to involve a whole lot of bicep curls and plank-to-rows, which, snooze.

But this week's Trainer of the Month Club workout, care of trainer Meg Takacs, uses dumbbells in ways that are anything but boring. And while the moves certainly work to strengthen your arms and shoulders, the way you'd probably expect dumbbells to, they also light up pretty much every other muscle in your body too.

Grab a set of 5 to 15 pound dumbbells (though you can do the moves without 'em, too) and peep Takac's full workout below. And be sure to check back next week for the debut of our July Trainer of the Month!

Do each movement for 30 seconds, and cycle through the series twice.

  1. Front squats: Bring the dumbbells up to your shoulders (if you don’t have dumbbells, just place your hands on your shoulders), hinge your hips back with your elbows parallel to the ground. Make sure you’re squatting down to 90 degrees, and do a full hip extension at the top.
  2. Single-leg deadlifts into a row: Start with your left leg on the ground and your hands by your sides, holding the dumbbells. Keep your hips square to the ground and lean forward, raising your right leg behind you and bringing your arms toward the ground. To modify, touch your right foot on the floor while keeping your left planted, and row. For round two, plant your right leg instead of your left.
  3. Full dumbbell row in a high plank: In a high plank and your hips square to the ground, row one arm at a time up toward the ceiling. Place your hand directly beneath your shoulder to reset, then repeat on the other side. To modify, row your arms in the traditional, bend-at-the-elbows style, and/or drop to your needs for some added support.
  4. Pulse lunges into a thruster: Start in a lunge with one leg forward, dumbbells in hand, held up to your ears. Pulse down, then push up to straighten your legs. Use the momentum in your legs to push up to the ceiling, straightening your arms to full extension. Simultaneously bend your arms and legs back down to starting position, allowing your knees to kiss the ground without releasing bodyweight.
  5. Flies on your knees: Starting on your knees with your core pulled tight, bring the weights in front of you and extend them out 180 degrees to the side. Return to start, and repeat. Be sure to pull from your back with your spine in line with your neck.
  6. Burpee into thrust: Start in push-up position with your weights in hand. Release your bodyweight onto the ground, push back up, and jump your feet toward your hands. Stand up, and press the weights straight overhead. Be sure to come all the way down to the ground at the bottom of the burpee to give the move full range of motion.

Burn out your core even more with this 6-minute ab series, or boost your heart rate with some at-home HIIT that will leave you sweatin'.

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