Get a Full-Body Workout Using Only a Pair of Dumbbells

Looking to get shredded for beach season but running on limited time? Don’t stress out about not having hours on end to exercise as the weather slowly turns for the better—you can get the work you need done in the time it take to watch your favorite TV show.

Michael Piercy, C.S.C.S., creator of The Men’s Health 30-Minute Shred, has spent the past 20 years training time-strapped clients. In the process he learned how to whittle a workout down to its essentials, eliminating the need for extra long workouts every day. Here’s proof: This half-hour program will whip you into shape in record time.

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The Secrets To an Effective 30-Minute Full-Body Dumbbell Workout

There’s a reason guys go to the gym for an hour or more to get their workouts in: It’s not easy getting shredded in 30 minutes. But it is possible. You just have to be smart with every part of your workout. That’s what you’ll do in this workout — and here’s why it works.

Core Engagement: You don’t have time to focus on your abs when your training time is maxed out at a half-hour, so don’t waste time. Instead, choose movements that will force your abs, lower back muscles, and obliques to work even when you’re training other muscles. The pushup to shoulder tap in this workout is a good example of that.

Supersets and Circuits: You don’t have time to rest — so don’t. Working in supersets and circuits elevates your heart rate while also letting you hit your muscles from multiple directions. That’s why this workout is broken into two quick circuits; you’re working through six moves in a tight time period.

Multiplanar Moves: People often train in something called the “sagittal plane,” essentially the plane that you walk and run in. But your body can also move laterally, and in something called the transverse plane too (legs twisting one way, upper body twisting another). Moving in those other planes fires up other muscles for greater full-body burn, and more muscle development and stability too! The side plank with dumbbell reach and 180-degree squat jump are good examples of such moves.

Explosive Movements: Moving your body at a variety of different speeds can help speed your metabolism and, again, activate a variety of muscle fibers. You’ll do controlled motions like the pushup to shoulder tap in this workout, but the traveling dumbbell swing and 180-degree squat jump push you to move quickly.


Warm up with a 6-minute mix of jumping jacks, inchworms, and high knees. Then do exercises 1A, 1B, and 1C as a 10-minute circuit, completing as many rounds as possible (AMRAP).

Rest 1 minute; then do 2A, 2B, and 2C as an 8 minute AMRAP circuit. For the last 6 minutes, do 5 to 8 burpees (with a twist: In a pushup position, pull your right foot outside your right hand, then back, then repeat on the other side) each minute.

Do this workout twice a week.

Need a set of dumbbells to get your shred on? Check out our favorite adjustable options, which range from 5 pounds to over 100.

1A. Traveling Dumbbell Swing

Hold a dumbbell by its head at your hips. Swing it down through your legs. Now drive your hips forward and swing the weight up. Step both feet to the left and assume a shoulder-width stance; repeat the swing. Step to the right and repeat. That’s 1 rep; do 15.

1B. Pushup to Shoulder Tap

Do a pushup. Pause as you straighten your arms. Maintaining a high plank, slowly lift your left hand off the ground and tap your right shoulder. Return your left hand to the ground. Do another pushup, and then tap your left shoulder with your right hand. That’s 1 rep; do 12.

1C. Plank to Side Plank

Start in a plank position, forearms on the ground. Lift your right hand and reach for the sky, rotating your torso into a right-side plank. Hold for 1 second in the side plank; then return to the forearm plank position and repeat the move on your left side. That’s 1 rep; do 5.

2A. 180-degree Squat Jump

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hinge your hips back and bend your knees. In one motion, jump and rotate your body 180 degrees to the right, landing with knees slightly bent. Repeat, rotating 180degrees to the left. That’s 1 rep; do 15.

2B. Alternating Renegade Row

Start in a high plank position, your feet shoulder-width apart and hands gripping 15-pound dumbbells. Pull the left dumbbell up to your upper abs (elbow behind your rib cage). Return to the starting position. Repeat the sequence with the right dumb-bell. That’s 1 rep; do 6.

2C. Side Plank with Dumbbell Reach

Start in a right-side plank, your left hand holding a 5-pound dumbbell, reaching for the sky, feet either stacked or split. Rotate the plank downward, moving the weight under your torso; don’t let it hit the ground. Return to the starting position. That’s 1 rep; do 5 reps per side.

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