Total Body Dumbbell Workout

Total body workouts are a fabulous way to get your weight training done if you are a weight lifting beginner or if you only have a couple days a week to commit to working out. 

I swear by total body workouts for my clients who only have 3 days a week to train because total body training sessions allow them to hit all of their muscle groups with enough sets and recovery time to keep making progress - even with their time constraints! 

This workout is a dumbbell only workout. You only need a single pair of weights. However, if you have multiple sets available to you, I highly recommend going heavier for the lower body movements. Your legs can handle a much greater load and it's important that, to make progress, you are taking your sets close to failure with the weight sizes you have chosen.

I say this in almost every workout post but it's only because it's so important for your success: remember the 2 rep rule! You will know you have picked the right weight size when you can perform a full set with good form and feel like you have just about 2 extra reps left in the tank upon completion. 

If you end your set feeling like you could crank out another 10 reps, you need to increase reps or increase weight - preferably increase weight if heavier weights are available to you.

Exercise Terms to Know

Superset: Perform two exercises back to back without rest in between them. You may rest after you complete a full set of each. 

Until failure: Perform as many repetitions as you can with good form. Stop when you can no longer perform the exercise with good form.

The Workout

  1. Lateral to Front Raise Circle 4x10 (On the last set go until failure)
  2. Single Arm Alternating Row to Tricep Kickback 4x10
  3. 3D Lunge 4x12
  4. Iso Hold Hammer Curls 4x10
  5. Surrenders 4x12 superset with Crunch with Feet Raised 4x25

Exercise Instructions

Lateral to Front Raise Circle

  1. Stand with your back straight, feet shoulder width apart, while holding a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip. Hold your arms fully extended by your side, with your palms facing in to your body. Keep your elbows close to your sides. This is the start position.
  2. Keeping your arms fully extended and your torso stationary, lift the dumbbells out to your sides and up until the dumbbells are at shoulder level. Exhale as you do so.
  3. Then bring your arms together (still fully extended) out in front of you so that the dumbbells nearly touch each other.
  4. Lower the weights in front of you in a smooth controlled movement inhaling as you do so.
  5. Repeat.

Single Arm Alternating Row to Tricep Kickback

  1. Keep a neutral spine throughout this exercise.
  2. Grab the dumbbells and pull one of them to your stomach, retracting your shoulder blade and flexing the elbow.
  3. Push the weight that is closest to your stomach back behind you until your upper and lower arm forms a straight line. Keep the upper arm stationary as you do so.
  4. Slowly bring the weight forward and down, reversing the movement to return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat with the other arm. One rep is the performance of this movement on both sides.

3D Lunge

  1. The 3D lunge is made up of 3 separate lunges that you will perform consecutively.
  2. First, perform the forward lunge. Step forward, bending the front knee but making sure that your knee doesn’t go over top of your toes. 
  3. Return to the starting position.
  4. Second, perform the side lunge. Step out, ensuring that your foot, knee and hip are all in line. 
  5. Return to the starting position.
  6. Lastly, perform the reverse lunge. Step backward, bending the front knee. Again, make sure that your knee doesn't go over top of your toes.
  7. Return to the starting position. That's one rep.
  8. Repeat.

Iso Hold Hammer Curls

  1. Hold dumbbells in both hands with a neutral grip (palms facing inward.)
  2. Raise one forearm up until until it forms a right angle with your upper arm. Hold this position for all prescribed reps.
  3. With the other arm, curl the weight upward until it also forms a 90 degree angle.
  4. Slowly lower this arm back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for all reps, then switch arms.


  1. Stand with your hands clutching a dumbbell in front of you or with your hands behind your head and bring your right knee gently to the ground. I recommend using an exercise mat for a soft surface to land on.
  2. Bring your left knee down so you are kneeling on both knees. Keep your chest upright throughout the movement.
  3. Lift your right foot up and in front of you so you are now only kneeling on your left knee. Now, bring the left foot forward to stand up.
  4. That is one rep. For the next rep bring your left knee to the floor first. Continue switching sides each rep. 

Crunch with Feet Raised

  1. Lie on your back with your knees up at a 90-degree angle. You can cross your ankles if that's comfortable for you. Clasp your hands behind your head.
  2. Breathe out and contract your abs, as you slowly lift your shoulder blades off of the floor. Press your lower back into the floor.
  3. Pause.
  4. Breathe in and lower your body back to the start position in a slow, controlled fashion.
  5. Repeat.

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