Dumbbell Exercises to ‘Tone Up’

When people want to tone up, the first thing they think to do is hop straight on a treadmill and try to burn as many calories as humanly possible! This will eventually result in weight loss but there are much more interesting ways to change your body composition! Try out these dumbbell only exercises and let the results speak for themselves…

Goblet Squat

Goblet squats are a great compound movement. This means they involve the use of more than one joint and muscle group. They’re perfect for targeting almost your entire lower body in one exercise! Due to the load being held at the front of the body, they are slightly more quad focussed than glute focussed.

Personal trainers often programme goblet squats in as a substitute / adaptation to barbell back squats. Most people will find it much easier to reach full range of motion and depth when performing this exercise. They also benefit anyone with reduced mobility in their chest / shoulders as they don’t need to reach back and grip the bar. One more advantage of goblet squats is that they are great for practicing front squats ad getting used to the load being in this position. 

How to perform a goblet squat

Pick up your dumbbell and hold one end of it with both hands. Bring the weight into your chest, making sure to keep the back straight and your chest upright. Bend at the hips, knees and ankles exactly as you would when sitting on a chair. The further you can squat down, the better. Drive through the soles of your feet evenly and return to standing. This is one rep, and we would recommend starting out with 3 sets of 8-10 reps to start with! Give these a go and have 60s rest between your sets.

Woman goblet squatting

Reverse lunges

Now that you have targeted your quads successfully with the goblet squats, let’s move on to an exercise that targets another large muscle group in the lower body: the glutes. Reverse lunges are such a versatile exercise with so many advantages. They increase strength, balance, and coordination to name just a few. 

How to do reverse lunges correctly

Hold a dumbbell in each hand and let the arms hang straight down by your sides. Keep your chest yup and your back straight throughout the whole movement. From standing, step one leg back whilst bending both knees to a right angle. Once the back foot hits the floor, return to standing by pushing through the heel of your front leg and the toes of your back leg. Repeat on the other leg to complete the rep. We recommend 6-8 reps per side and a total of 3 sets with 60 seconds in-between. 

Reverse lunges

Plank row / Renegade row

Target your abs, arms, and back muscles with this super exercise! It may seem like a lot to wrap your head around at first but trust us when we say this one is worth mastering!

To perform a renegade row

Start in a high plank with your hands directly underneath your shoulders and hips low. If you are using dumbbells with a flat edge such as our hex dumbbells, you can use the dumbbells to hold on to at all times, but if you are using round dumbbells, we would recommend keeping them in-between your hands and keeping your hands flat on the floor or mat as you normally would when performing a regular plank. 

Keeping your hips square, parallel to the ground, lift one hand off the floor (grab your dumbbell if you haven’t already) and row it up to your ribs, keeping your elbows tucked in at all times. Lower your hand and the dumbbell back down to the ground and repeat on the other side. Try to do 4 sets of 8 on these!

Renegade row

Reverse fly

Create the illusion of a smaller waist by strengthening and building your back muscles! This is such an underrated exercise for strengthening back muscles. As well as helping you ‘tone up’ reverse flys will improve your posture and core strength… and who doesn’t want that!

Hold a fairly light dumbbell in each hand and bend at your hips. Your head and neck should be in line so that your back is flat all the way down! Starting with your arms hanging down towards the floor, raise them both up, keeping a slight bend in the elbow. Once the arms are parallel with the floor, slowly lower them back down. Start by doing 3 sets of 12 with a light weight at first.

reverse fly

Weighted sit up 

Sit ups are the core of any workout! Strengthen your abs and help create definition with this great exercise. To add a challenge to a basic sit up, try holding a dumbbell on your chest. Add these in to any workout to make sure you are keeping your core strong! We recommend 12+ reps and 4 sets!

Weighted sit up

Bicep curls

Who doesn’t want strong, toned arms? We certainly do and bicep curls are a great way to achieve them! Hold a dumbbell in each hand and straighten your arms by your sides. With your palms facing up, bend your elbows to raise the eight and ‘curl’ in in towards your shoulders. Lower the dumbbells back down. To spice up your workout, try implementing bicep ’21s’. This is where you do 7 reps at the bottom half of the movement, 7 reps at the top half of the movement and the 7 full range of motion reps! Your biceps will thank us!

Bicep curl

Try this whole workout and tell us how you get on! See our dumbbell only workout reel on our instagram page for a video demonstration of each exercise!

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