The Ultimate Dumbbell Workout for Women

fit woman with dumbbells in the gym
fit woman with toned flat abs

Everyone's been there....

you get to the gym after work and there's 3 large men camped out at the squat racks with enough weight on the barbell to lift 5 of you, a squad of ladies doing what seems like 30 sets of glute kickbacks at the cable station, and a slew of pooped gym goers on the machines checking their phone between sets. 

What's a girl gotta do to get a workout in when everything's taken?!

Friend, I got you. Sometimes, it's just too dang hard to stake a claim to the equipment you wanted. But it doesn't mean you can't get a fabulous workout in anyway. 

I present to you...... drumroll please.... the ultimate dumbbell workout!

Buckle up, princess! Just because you only need a set of weights for this workout, does NOT mean it's going to be easy. You're about to get a great sweat.

But before we get started, let's find out why dumbbell workouts are great:

The Benefits of Dumbbells for Your Workouts

1. Dumbbells help you remedy muscle imbalances 

Many people have one side that's weaker than their other. If you're left handed (aaaay, that's me! Where my lefties at?!) your left side is probably stronger and visa versa.

Think about it, you probably use whatever arm you right with to do a lot more. And your muscles grow in response to the demands placed on them. Bigger muscles = more strength. So your dominant side does more work overall and, therefore, is required to be stronger. 

When you use a barbell or a machine, both sides of your body have to cooperate to lift the same weight. Think about a barbell overhead press.

Your body's number 1 goal is to find the easiest way to get that bar over your head. If one side is stronger than the other, then your dominant side is going to do most of the work to reach that goal as efficiently as possible. 

On the other hand, if you were using dumbbells, your weaker side would be FORCED to do half the work because each hand alone has half the weight.

2. Dumbbell exercises are less stable, requiring more activation of stabilizer muscles (such as the core.)

These movements are less stable than using machines, for example. When you're using a machine, you usually have support for your back and the rest of your body not being used for the movement. While this helps you isolate the muscle you're exercising, it means less use of your stabilizing muscles.

When you're using weights, your stabilizer muscles have to work harder to keep you moving in the right direction.

Stabilizers are dependent on what exercise you're performing but, in general, you can usually expect to use your abs and lower back to keep your body upright.

If you want to strengthen your whole body, less stable movements are important.

3. Dumbbells are versatile and can be used anywhere. 

You have a better range of motion with dumbbells than you do with machines or a barbell. This makes dumbbells a lot more versatile and easy to work with for targeting your entire body.

It is quite easy to target any and every muscle on your body using a pair of free weights. 

Dumbbells are also versatile in the sense that you can use them anywhere. If you have a pair of weights, you can workout at home or when you're traveling quite easily.

If you have weights available at home, there's truly never a reason you can't get a workout in! If it's raining, snowing, traffic is crazy, or you just straight up don't feel like hitting the gym, you have the equipment to get it done anyway without leaving your house!

And now... onto the workout!

*Rep ranges: for all exercises that incorporate one side at a time (lunges, single arm dumbbell rows) the movement should be performed with the prescribed number of reps for EACH side. So if it's 4x15, it's 15 reps with the left side, and then 15 reps with the right right.

*Rest time: keep rest between 30-60 seconds.

*Tri sets and super sets: When performing a tri set or super set, you must perform all included movements back to back without rest in between them. Once you've completed 1 set of each included movement in the tri set or super set, you may take a short rest break. Then, repeat.

The Workout

  1. Tri Set: Dumbbell Walking Lunges, Dumbbell Front Squats, and Lying Leg Raises (4x15 each) 

  2. Plank to Push-Up (3x10 each side)

  3. Surrenders (4x10 each side)

  4. Super Set: Lateral Raise with Alternating Arm Dumbbell Row (3x15 each)

  5. Super Set: Kneeling Push Ups with Dumbbell Hammer Curls (3x15 each)

Exercise Instructions

1. Tri Set: Dumbbell Walking Lunges, Dumbbell Front Squats, and Lying Leg Raises (4x15 each) 

A) Dumbbell Walking Lunges

1. Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides. Stand up straight and step forward with your left foot.

2. Bend your back right knee towards the floor as you bend the left knee to lower the rest of your body.

3. Drive back upward and step forward with your right foot. Repeat with the right foot forward.

B) Dumbbell Front Squats

1. Stand with feet hip width apart and toes pointing forward. Rest dumbbells on your shoulders for support.

2. Bend your knees to lower your hips toward the floor as though you're going to sit in a chair.

3. When your thighs are parallel to the floor, drive through your heels and extend your hips forward to stand back up.

C) Lying Leg Raises

1. Lie on a mat with hands under your bottom. 

2. Keep legs together and raise them up and towards you, keeping them fully extended the whole time.

3. Pause, and then slowly return to the starting position without dropping your feet to the floor.

2. Plank to Push-Up (3x10 each side)

1. Get in plank position with elbows shoulder width apart.

2. Press yourself up into pushup position one arm at a time while keeping your upper and lower body in line with each other.

3. Return to the starting position the same way (one arm lowered at a time.)

3. Surrenders (4x10 each side)

1. Kneel on an exercise mat with hands behind your head.

2. Lift your right knee up by placing your right foot out in front of you. 

3. Bring your left foot forward so that you're in a squat position.

4. Lower your right leg to bring your knee back to the mat and then follow with your left leg.

5. Alternate to your left knee forward first.

4. Super Set: Lateral Raise with Alternating Arm Dumbbell Row (3x15 each)

A) Lateral Raise

1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.

2. Extend your arms out to your sides (without completely locking out your elbows). 

3. When your arms are parallel to the floor, pause, and slowly return to the starting position.

B) Alternating Arm Dumbbell Row

1. Bend at your torso and keep your back flat.

2. Pick up the dumbbells with a neutral grip (palms facing each other.)

3. Use your back muscles to pull the weight up, keeping your upper arm close to your side.

4. Hold the contraction, then slowly lower the weight back to the starting position. 

5. Repeat on the opposite side.

5. Super Set: Kneeling Push Ups with Dumbbell Hammer Curls (3x15 each)

A) Kneeling Push Ups

1. Get into a plank position from your knees. Legs should be crossed and feet raised. 

2. Lower your body until your chest is nearly touching the floor.

3. Push yourself up until your arms are straight.

4. Repeat.

B) Dumbbell Hammer Curls

1. Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand and palms facing each other. Arms should be fully extended.

2. With your upper arms stationary, curl the dumbbells up towards your shoulders.

3. When the dumbbells are at shoulder level, pause, and then slowly lower them back to the starting position.

Are you ready to build a strong feminine physique and make fitness your everyday lifestyle?

Girl, it sounds like it’s time to apply for Emily Cramer Fitness 1:1 Coaching!

My 1:1 coaching program is for you if:

✔ You want to look and feel strong physically and mentally
✔ You want to learn to lift some heavy weights and build lean, feminine muscle
✔ Wonder Woman is goals in your mind
✔ You see exercise and nutrition as self care for your mental, physical, and spiritual well being or you would like to learn to see it that way
✔ You aren’t just looking to get to the finish line or a goal number on the scale but are looking to make fitness and healthy living your lifestyle

Apply today for Emily Cramer Fitness 1:1 Coaching

Not convinced it could work for you? Take a look at my Client Success Stories.

I look forward to coaching you! 

To Your Good Health & Success,



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